Jan 23, 2020 08:50 AM

Reporter’s Notebook: We Stayed in Wuhan as the Last Trains Pulled Out

As quarantine shuts down Wuhan, a group of Caixin reporters decided to stay and continue covering the crisis.
As quarantine shuts down Wuhan, a group of Caixin reporters decided to stay and continue covering the crisis.

After seeing off my colleagues leaving Wuhan before dawn Thursday from the city’s main railway station, I know that I face a quarantine that may last as long as two months now that authorities have shut down the train station, airports and mass transit.

A team of Caixin reporters including me arrived in the city two days ago to report on what is happening at the epicenter of the deadly viral pneumonia outbreak. Some of us decided to stay on to continue documenting the course of the new coronavirus.

“The silent and invisible virus is scary,” said my colleague Xiao Hui. “But the duty and obligation of a journalist tell me to stay here.”

The transit ban that went into effect hours after our colleagues left has shut down this city of 11 million. During the past two days, I’ve seen increasingly emotional doctors and more suspected patients. In Hubei province, surrounding Wuhan, there were 444 confirmed cases as of Wednesday, with dozens of new infections reported every day.

As the front line in fighting the epidemic, the city faced the imminent need for a massive quarantine to contain the disease. The spread of the virus has been stunning. We’ve seen many issues that need to be clarified and covered by journalists.

The development of the coronavirus has reminded the public of the outbreak of SARS in 2003, claiming nearly 800 lives and causing months of panic. So did the spread of the African swine fever last year, which caused hefty economic losses for the country without being directly harmful to human health.

That again showed how transparency and public oversight can be undermined in such a crisis. Administrative intervention and the long-standing mindset of maintaining stability can unintentionally create conditions for disease to spread.

At this, the epicenter of the crisis, millions of Wuhan people will fight hard against the disease, and many of them may pay the ultimate price. I hope the battle and what we learn from it can contribute to positive changes for our country, so that no one should have died in vain.

As journalists, I hope we can record what is truly happening, no matter whether fortunate or not. What we can do is to strive to record the truth for the future.

Follow Caixin Global’s latest updates on the coronavirus here.

Gao Yu is the executive deputy editor of Caixin Media

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