Change in three’s – a RIF, a Death, and Wuhan Flu.

It has been near a year since the last update. Since last summer, the cat and I have packed up and moved to Shanghai in pursuit of career growth. And growth we have gotten – in spades.

Change 1: my first active participation in a reduction in force (RIF).

Change 2: representing the company at the funeral for one of my team.

Change 3: being on the periphery of what is likely the most massive organized response to a contagion in human history.

The I suspect the first will not be my last, I hope the second is my last, and the third – who knows – maybe it will be the last for all of us 😂.

I suspect most are here because of #3.

Shanghai has become a virtual ghost town since the commencement of Spring Festival compounded with the Wuhan situation. The initial announcement was that businesses were to extend the break until February 3, soon followed by February 10. I highly suspect this will extend even further as a way to discourage the city’s migrant population from returning for the time being. Restrictions placed on interprovincial travel will likely add friction, discouraging all but the most intent from coming back.

The cancellation by airlines has compounded this effect even further for my apartment building in particular, as it caters heavily to expats. There is almost no one here aside from the odd individual who decided to remain in country or got back before the end of the original break (like myself from Taipei). I gather most of the remainder either decided to just get out of dodge from the onset or are simply unable to return.

As to the flu proper, I suspect the real mortality rate will ultimately be far lower than present numbers (200-ish dead / 10,000-ish confirmed) – if for no other reason than a daily limit on how many can be verified via lab test as having the actual virus, not to mention those who will remain asymptomatic or have only minor symptoms. That said, the city has put in place a layering of checks – pretty much every building complex/mall is now temperature checking all people entering and not allowing delivery people past the lobby. Door to door checks in my complex were done last Thursday by building management. If the situation worsens, I suspect door to door checks might become a more regular occurrence.

Interestingly enough, behaviours are starting to change – the few that are venturing outside are keeping a large distance between themselves and others – often walking out in the middle of roads now completely devoid of traffic. This is a far cry from the Shanghai norm where running into people is considered as common as breathing. I can only hope people also start to adopt the habit of regularly hand washing by the time this situation resolves.

The local authority has decreed that despite the extended break, all those part of an essential service are to return to work. This includes power, water, gas, telecom, and food (along with some gov’t services). Store shelves are not quite as well stocked with fresh meat and vegetables as before the break – but otherwise goods are still easy to find. That said, I am not taking any chances – in a city of 30 million, it would only take a small panic to empty stores of everything.

The worst enemy at this point appears to be boredom. Discussions online are turning more often to complaints of cabin fever as people shelter in place and limit trips out as much as possible. I do wonder if we will see a short blip upwards in divorces when this is all said and done coupled with an opposing spike in birth rate this Fall.

In the mean time, the Playstation is getting a good work out and the cat is loving the attention.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s