Coronavirus outbreak worries students with families in Wuhan
Jingjing Wu can’t stop checking her newsfeed.
The marketing doctoral student’s mood fluctuates with the hourly updates on the coronavirus outbreak because her family lives in Wuhan, the capital of the Hubei province in China and an area that has been on lockdown since Jan. 23 due to the outbreak.
“Every morning when I wake up, besides getting my phone and checking the messages, I want to check the news,” Wu said. “Normally, I don’t read the news first thing in the morning, but now I’ve been checking on the numbers of people diagnosed, suspected and died of (coronavirus).”
Wu is just one student with family in the affected area that faces a need to always be properly informed about new outbreak updates. For students from Wuhan and other affected areas in China, the effects of the coronavirus, officially named COVID-19, are personal.
Over winter break, Wu was one of the many people around the world going back to China to visit their families for the Lunar New Year. At first, everything on her trip was fine, but then rumors about the outbreak started to spread.
“There’s a very direct and strong influence of everyone’s daily life,” Wu said about the outbreak’s effects on Wuhan. “Especially because it happened in a very special time, which is the Lunar New Year.”
When she arrived back in the U.S., Wu found some of her fellow peers had misconceptions about the coronavirus, and they had assumed she was at risk for having it.
Wu told them her exact travel dates and that the proper amount of time had passed for herself and the people around her to show any symptoms, but for some this was not enough.
Wu felt she had said everything she could and did not want to waste any more time making the situation worse. However, she was saddened that someone she thought was a friend could distrust her.
Compared to other more drastic results of people having misconceptions about coronavirus, such as businesses in Houston’s Chinatown suffering because of false rumors about the outbreak, Wu said her experience could have been a lot worse.
“That’s the thing that I have been through, but I don’t feel it’s as severe as the other persons that have been abused,” Wu said.
Before the outbreak, Wu said she talked to her parents weekly. Now, every day she checks on her family to see how they’re doing.
“I think they’re fine, but I would definitely say that I think getting the food supplies is an issue,” Wu said. “But, the central government was sending fresh fruits and vegetables to the neighborhood.”
Raising awareness on the state of the coronavirus, how to prevent it and doing what they can to help affected areas is important to Wu and her fellow member Sunny Wang of UH’s Chinese Students and Scholars Association.
The moment Wang was aware of the coronavirus outbreak, she sent information to her family about how to prevent its spread. She also asked them to purchase masks — a necessity that has since faced a dangerous scarcity.
“When I realized how heavy the virus was being, I was so afraid,” Wang said. “I am very worried for my family.”
CSSA has made efforts to raise money for masks to send to affected areas in China facing a wipeout of these products.
“The news can be shocking or heartbreaking, or very encouraging,” Wu said about her efforts to stay informed about the outbreak. “Reading their stories can make me very moved or very encouraged. We are determined to fight this virus.”