A Chinese author chronicled her life in Wuhan, where the first coronavirus cases were detected
- An author in Wuhan, China - where the first coronavirus cases were detected - kept an online diary describing life in lockdown in the city.
- Going by her pen name, Fang Fang, instead of her real name Wang Fang, she chronicled various days during the 76-day lockdown.
- The New York Times translated excerpts of Wang's accounts, from the first few days of the entire city going under quarantine to the day the lockdown was lifted.
- "If authors have any responsibilities in the face of disaster, the greatest of them is to bear witness," she said in an interview with The Times. "I've always cared about how the weak survive great upheavals. The individuals who are left out - they've always been my chief concern."
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An author in Wuhan, China - where the first coronavirus cases were detected - kept an online diary describing life in lockdown in the city.
Her controversial diary was widely relied upon by tens of millions of Chinese readers looking for in-person updates as the coronavirus first began to unfold in the country, The New York Times reported.
Going by her pen name, Fang Fang, instead of her real name Wang Fang, she chronicled various days during the 76-day lockdown. The Times translated excerpts of Wang's accounts, from the first few days of the entire city going under quarantine to the day the lockdown was lifted.
"If authors have any responsibilities in the face of disaster, the greatest of them is to bear witness," she said in an interview with The Times. "I've always cared about how the weak survive great upheavals. The individuals who are left out - they've always been my chief concern."
On January 26, Wang began her 'diary of a closed city.'
"The people of Wuhan are still at a critical time," she wrote, according to The Times' translation. "They have moved past their initial terror, helplessness, anxiety and stress, and are much calmer and steadier. But still they need to be comforted and cheered on by everyone."
Wang then relayed a story she heard from her daughter about her friend's father, who had liver cancer and died from a "suspected case of infection." After he was hospitalied, there was no available medical staff to treat him and he died in three hours, Wang wrote.
She described the quiet atmosphere in the city as people remained indoors to contain the spread of the then mysterious virus. At the end of January, she described how hard it was to find staple groceries like eggs when she went on an errand run.
Wang commended the employees in supermarkets and street cleaners who were still diligently working amid the outbreak, adding they gave her a sense of calm by carrying on with their lives.
"True, they have to go on living and so do we, that's the way it is," she wrote. "I often admire these working people. Sometimes a brief chat with them leaves me feeling mysteriously calmed."
- On February 7, Wang wrote she was 'distraught' to find out whistleblower doctor Li Wenliang had died from the coronavirus.
Li Wenliang was labeled a martyr after the doctor, who was silenced by Chinese officials when he initially sounded the alarm on the coronavirus late last year, died from the coronavirus. People in China were up at arms following Li's death, with posts continually flooding the internet despite Chinese censors. People also took the streets in an uproar.
"The flood of tears became a mighty wave on the internet!" Wang wrote. "That night, Li Wenliang was ferried into another world on all the tears shed for him."
"At midday shouts went out in Wuhan: We'll be the ones to care for Li Wenliang's family and children."
Following Chinese officials' announcement that they would soon lift the lockdown, Wang also concluded her diary on March 24.
The unprecedented lockdown on Wuhan's nearly 11 million residents was lifted on April 7 - 76 days after it was initially put into place.
"Many people have left messages saying that no officials will be held accountable, that there's no hope in sight for that," she wrote in her final entry. "As for whether they will ultimately be held responsible, I don't know."
She wrote that the people of Wuhan, as "witnesses to the tragic times of this city," have a "responsibility and duty to seek justice for those who died wrongfully." Wang wrote she will do her part by continuing to chronicle this historic time during a pandemic.
"If anyone imagines that I'll lightly set aside my pen, that will never happen," she wrote. "One word after another, I will inscribe them onto history's pillar of infamy."
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