Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

A Tongan in Wuhan: living in the Corona virus quarantine.

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Alice Lolohea | Reporter/Director/Videographer

Almost a month since the announcement of the quarantine, China continues to fight the Corona virus within its borders, and many living within the centre of the epidemic are still at the mercy of the lockdown, including Pacific islander Joseph Fatai.

The Wuhan resident from Tonga says the city has become unnervingly noiseless, “it’s so quiet you can hear the birds singing outside when you stand by the window. It’s quite a rare experience because it’s a big city and its usually very noisy with cars beeping and with the sound of the engine accelerating, nearby schools playing loud music on their speakers and sometimes local women in groups dancing in the park.”

When the lockdown was announced, Joseph and his wife Caroline struggled to keep their stress in check as they prepared to confine themselves within their apartment, “Thankfully I have it under control now but in the beginning, it was tough” he says.

“There was a sense of fight or flight mode. So many unanswered questions raised fear. Are we being left out? Will we get help? Did I get infected? What about food supplies and other necessities like water, gas, etc…? At one point I knew these thoughts weren’t helpful. I knew if my wife and I were to survive, we needed to stay positive.”

Fatai, a computer science technology manager in Wuhan, says they are immensely relieved to be in good health and haven’t exhibited any of the symptoms, “that’s a big deal!” Joseph exclaims. “[It] means inside our apartment is safe. We don’t know [when] this lockdown is going to end but we need to prepare for the worst-case scenario. Now we [have] a mission. We need to get as much supplies that we can carry with us in just one trip. Things that can help us sustain life inside our apartment the longest was first priority.”

At the suggestion of a friend, Joseph and Caroline began vlogging their lockdown experiences, detailing the extreme lengths they undergo to make sure they’re safe from the virus. Disinfecting gloves, goggles and face masks, Joseph says it’s taxing but necessary, “Safety precautions [are] mandatory. This virus is new, we barely know much of its behavior so I’m not taking any risks. Even if I look funny with blue swimming goggles in public lol.”

Besides vlogging, the couple have a multitude of activities to keep them entertained and preoccupied, “I’m constantly learning more about songwriting, mixing and mastering as a sound engineer. Caroline is learning more about videography, photography and art painting. Lately I’ve been volunteering to help some local government agents find medical supplies from overseas to help the hospitals here.”

As the world continues to comment about the China’s situation on social media, the couple are unnerved at the amount of misinformation and racial slander spreading online, “We needed facts to help understand the situation better. There were so many rumors going around that made the situation worst. That’s the thing with this virus. It doesn’t just attack people’s physical health. It also attacks you mentally. Fear divides people and make things more complicated. Panic is even worse. Being rational goes out the window. We can’t afford to have that mentality.”

Joseph feels international media outlets have been heavily focused on the worst aspects of the outbreak and hopes the efforts of the Chinese people are seen and appreciated “China has been doing an amazing job and trying their best to fight this epidemic. An epidemic is a battle against humanity. And just like any other battle, help from overseas can guarantee a win. Not just morally but also supplies that can help defeat the virus. If you can help defeat the virus here, you don’t have to worry about it reaching there.”

 

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