Lavender Au is a writer from London currently based in Beijing. (February 2020)

Follow Lavender Au on Twitter: @lavender_au.


Stuck in Central China on Coronavirus Lockdown

A street-cleaner working in a virtually deserted shopping precinct during the coronavirus lockdown of Wuhan, Hubei province, China, February 3, 2020

There is the online reality, the reality portrayed by state media, and the reality I’m living in Shiyan, in the same province as Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak. We may be seven hours’ drive away from Wuhan, but this city, too, is on lockdown. On the seventh day after the quarantine began, a university classmate called my friend Ningning, with whose family I’m staying, and told her about another version of reality: hospitals do not have enough beds for the infected in Wuhan, she said. They go home, they die, they never enter the official count as they were not diagnosed.