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Life in lockdown: Tips from a Canadian in Wuhan, China


Mark Henshaw is a Canadian man living in Wuhan, China. He and his girlfriend Maxine Liu have been on lockdown in the city for about two months. 

As Canadians get set for a second full week of being asked to stay indoors to slow the spread of COVID-19, one London, Ont., man is sharing his experience from inside the virus hot zone in China, where he's been in isolation for almost two months. 

Mark Henshaw lives in Wuhan, China, where he is teaching English as a second language. He lives with his girlfriend, who is Chinese. 

Wuhan is where the virus that has brought the world to its knees was first detected, and the city has been on lockdown every since. That is now easing, with people allowed out of their homes. 

"We left our apartment a little bit at the beginning to go grocery shopping, when it wasn't so strict, but then about a week into that they said you can't go out at all. Now we have our groceries brought to us," Henshaw said. 

It's been 62 days since people have been told to stay indoors, and Henshaw said that like in Canada, people have been getting together using social media, with entire neighbourhoods arranging for large grocery delivery orders that get dropped off at doorsteps. 

"Someone from the community will say, 'Hey, I need vegetables, does anyone else need vegetables?' and then 50 people get together, and one person contacts the grocery store and send a city bus filled with food," Henshaw said. 

"The bags get dropped off and the individuals pick up their bags and go back home." 

Henshaw has help from his girlfriend, with whom he lives, so he can order food and navigate other parts of life in China without knowing the language very well. 

He's been spending his time like many Canadians are now — reading, watching movies and television (he's partial to Schitt's Creek) and working out from home, as well as learning to make Chinese dumplings. He's also been making English-language teaching videos for his students. 


'The beginning was the most scary'

When the World Health Organization first started reporting cases of an unknown virus that emerged in Wuhan, Henshaw said he was fearful. 

"When the health officials kept saying, they don't know what this is, that was scary. In the beginning it was the most scary, but once people stopped moving and people stayed home and more tests came out, the information made things less scary," Henshaw said. 

"Honestly, if it wasn't for the World Health Organization, I would not be nearly as informed or feeling nearly as confident." 


A community volunteer informs residents to get vegetables with a loudspeaker in Wuhan, in China's central Hubei province on March 13, 2020.

He urged Londoners to listen to Middlesex-London Health Unit Medical Officer of Health Dr. Chris Mackie. 

"I've been following the news and hearing the simple advice, of staying home right now, and washing your hands, staying away from crowds. It's simple things, but it's a change of lifestyle, but it makes a really big difference." 

Wuhan is slowly starting to scale back restrictions placed on its residents, as cases numbers of COVID-19 in the city have been dropping. 

The Chinese government is staggering the return of cities that can return back to normal. 

"With fewer cases being reported here in China, and there's a wave of hope," he said. 



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