I am sick writing this. I got a cold, from my SO who also had a cold earlier this week. We’ve been sick with colds (I suspect that they are the dreaded Air Conditioner Colds, a popular theory that if you run your AC at night you will get sick) precisely twice since lockdown ended here in China.
There is a very real threat of being sick and being in public now. When I went to pick up some DayQuil (or the equivalent) at the pharmacy I had to convince the pharmacist that we had not been to any high risk areas (Bejing, Urumqi, and Dalian) so she would hand over the medicine without calling the police.
Last week I kept my hat on going through a temperature sensor and the sensor detected a heat anomaly on my head, three guards came rushing in armed with thermometer guns which was ridiculous at the time, trying to figure out where the anomaly came from, a few in the group that walked in were wearing hats so we were held back to figure out which of us hat wearers had a fever. None of us did.
If you are detected for a having a fever for any reason, you will be taken to quarantine, no questions asked. When I was sick the first time I stayed home until I was sure the fever had passed, there are temperature checkpoints at every given place, especially for transit, and so I wasn’t going to risk it. Temperature, I guess is the only indicator of the virus that we care about, and I didn’t even dare see the doctor, as your temperature is taken at the door to the hospital. I waited until it was gone.
I remember having a conversation when I had my first cold in June with one of my managers. That I didn’t want to leave the house even if I had a cough because I didn’t want to get caught by the police for exhibiting symptoms of the virus. “I will WFH until I am 100%” I had said “I don’t want to take the risk of being sick in public.”
Yesterday, at around 2:30 at work I started getting a sore throat and had to start making contingency plans. If I had a fever, I couldn’t exit the building and re-enter (temperature sensors at the door), or take the subway (temperature sensors at the turnstiles) for fear of getting sent to a mandated quarantine.
I called a car instead, and sat in traffic for well over an hour to avoid detection. Wondering why this was the new normal, or a valid concern. $20 fine for being sick in public, a cheaper fine to pay than being caught with a fever at a temperature detection point.
“I know, when I go out I try not to cough,” My SO said to me after he returned from the pharmacy “I don’t want to start trouble, or get reported.”
Don’t you think it’s strange that we have to think of these things?” I asked
I guess maybe it’s as strange as having to go to work sick in the first place.