by Xinhua writers Qiang Lijing, Wang Xiaojie and Tu Ming
BEIJING, June 23 (Xinhua) -- As a rainstorm cooled down the sun-scorched road on an early summer's day in Beijing, Hu Baogang greeted every visitor to a hutong, one of the city's traditional alleys, with an electronic thermometer.
At one end of Laoqianggen Alley, Hu, along with four volunteers and community workers wearing face masks and red vests, were in charge of monitoring comers' body temperature, checking residents' passes and registering visitors' information as a new wave of COVID-19 infections has been reported in the Chinese capital.
Hu, 59, is a local of the Laoqianggen residential community in Beijing's Xicheng District. The community accommodates more than 4,000 residents mainly dwelling in old bungalows, over 700 of whom are migrants, according to Gao Hongying, director of the community.
COMMUNITY WORKERS, VOLUNTEERS
Hu has volunteered to help with the epidemic prevention and control work since March.
Having lived in the hutong for decades, Hu felt obliged to safeguard his community when the COVID-19 epidemic hit.
Hu had a grandson one month ago, but he was too busy with guarding the neighborhood around the clock to help look after the newborn.
He still remembers the spring of 2003 when Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) struck the city hard. "At that time, we got in a panic for we didn't grasp the epidemic situation as quickly and clearly as today. Now, with efficient prevention and control measures, there's no need to worry at all," he said.
Beijing on June 16 upgraded its emergency response to COVID-19 from Level III to Level II following the resurgence of domestically transmitted COVID-19 cases. From June 11 to 22, the capital city reported 249 domestically transmitted COVID-19 cases, most of which were related to the now-closed Xinfadi market in the southern part of the city.
"Thanks to these volunteers, community workers and government officials, who come to shoulder the task of guarding the entrances, we can have more time to focus on the work within the community," said Gao.
Gao's recent work includes screening the residents and their contacts in her community who had been to Xinfadi market and two other relevant markets.
So far, more than 100 residents and their families in Laoqianggen community have been put under home quarantine. "They have received nucleic acid testing for COVID-19, and all the results are negative," Gao said with relief.
Nearly 100,000 personnel like Gao have participated in screening 7,120 communities and villages in the capital since June 11.
Gao and her colleagues also visited every household in the community to learn residents' whereabouts over the past two weeks, provided daily necessities and epidemic prevention supplies to those under quarantine, collected their household waste and disinfected the environment regularly.
Normal life still continues here.
"At the very beginning, we lacked green vegetables for one or two days because the nearby stalls that used to purchase vegetables from Xinfadi were all closed. The local government knew our difficulties and allocated vegetables to us," Gao said.
"Everyone has participated in the battle against the virus," Gao said. "The nearby supermarket provided free masks and sanitizers, a neighborhood kindergarten offered electricity to the guarding station, a community hospital invited psychological counselors to help and a traditional Chinese pharmacy gave away medicine for free."
"Even those who used to be less cooperative said they would like to lend a hand if necessary," Gao said. "We have every reason to win the battle."
No more than 2 km away from Laoqianggen Alley, Yongning Hutong had one confirmed COVID-19 case reported on June 14.
At both ends of Yongning Hutong, community workers and volunteers stood in front of white barriers and a green tent -- the guarding station, which have been visible at almost every hutong entrance in Beijing since January.
Not only in downtown Beijing, all the suburban areas also remain vigilant to contain the spread of the infectious virus.
Liu Ruihua, a villager of Zhangjiafen Village in north Beijing's picturesque Miyun District, closed down her family inns Thursday along with another 70-80 farmers' hotels in her village which boasts rural tourism and attracts many holidaymakers, especially in summer.
"All of us underwent nucleic acid testing because we had received many guests from downtown over weekends," Liu said. "We won't reopen our business even though the Dragon Boat Festival is approaching."
PATIENT AND DOCTOR
Bai Feng (pseudonym), 31, who ran a stall in Xinfadi market, is being treated in Beijing Ditan Hospital after he was confirmed to have contracted COVID-19 on June 13.
Bai said he tested positive during the extensive screening. Despite feeling a bit sick, he has shown no other symptoms.
"I have been taken good care of here. And I can still place orders online and the medics bring the parcels to me," he said.
Currently, all the 249 newly confirmed COVID-19 patients are being treated at Beijing Ditan Hospital, where 100 medics from 19 other Beijing hospitals joined the treatment.
Jiang Chunguo was one of them. A respiratory doctor from Beijing Chaoyang Hospital, Jiang had finished his 65-day mission in Wuhan helping battle COVID-19.
"It's our duty to treat the COVID-19 patients. I have clinical experience in Wuhan. I'm in good health so I am suitable to go," he said.
At this moment, every medical worker wants to do their part, Jiang added.
Song Xuewen, from north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, is a deliveryman at a station of JD Logistics in Zhongguancun, the high-tech hub of Beijing.
With a population of more than 21 million, Beijing has over 7 million migrant residents, among whom, deliverymen have played an important role during the epidemic period.
Song's station handles about 2,000 parcels every day. The epidemic has made him and his colleagues even busier. From 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day over the past few months, Song said he has hardly had any time for a proper rest.
"My company offers dorms and free face masks for us. Our temperature is taken twice a day. Our logistics station is also disinfected. Such prevention measures have been taken for months," he said.
"The epidemic situation did not affect my income or life. It drives us to work more cautiously," Song said. "For example, we contact our customers in different time slots to avoid a crowd of people picking up parcels at the same time."
Song said he and his colleagues will undergo nucleic acid testing arranged by his company soon to ensure the safety of them and their customers.
As an international metropolis, Beijing has about 140,000 foreign residents and over 30,000 overseas university students.
JongMay Urbonya, 25, from the United States, felt her personal life became more secluded and quiet during the coronavirus prevention and control period.
As an on-screen teacher of an online company in Beijing that produces video content to teach non-native children English, Urbonya found how important her job is since most kids are unable to attend classes in person under epidemic control measures.
"None of the restaurants and supermarkets I know were shut down. Most restaurants allowed takeout, and every order had the chef's temperature printed on it, which suggests that restaurants were taking responsibility and working hard to make things safe," she added.
Suleeporn Suebsoroviriyakorn from Thailand said she admires the government's ability in combating the coronavirus.
The PhD graduate at the Communication University of China in Beijing said China should be regarded as one of the most successful countries in controlling the epidemic.
Lazarus Banda from Malawi, a PhD candidate at Beijing Institute of Technology, also has great confidence in how the Beijing government works.
The information published by the government was accurate and timely. Supplies such as masks and thermometers were very easy to come by. Market prices were also well regulated so that the cost of living was still affordable, said the 36-year-old.
"Avoiding crowded places, wearing masks properly, washing my hands with sanitizers, measuring my body temperature every day, following the news..." Banda can list out a string of prevention measures he learned in Beijing.
"Beijing moved in swiftly to make everyone hopeful and determined to take part in the fight. It boosted my morale that I could take part even in the smallest way to curb the pandemic," said Banda. Enditem
(Xinhua correspondents Huang Yan, Zhong Qun, Xia Ke, Wei Mengjia, Yang Na and Wang Junlu contribute to the story.)