Quarantine is more than tolerable if you’re prepared (China Daily contributor)

April 8, 2022

BEIJING – When I was approached to cover the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games, I felt honored. Having a very close friend in the United States who lives with quadriplegia and witnesses the challenges he faces every day, I am inspired by his perseverance and independence. His spirit moves me. I knew that attending the Paralympic Games would touch me too. And he did, which I’ll cover for a future column.

A month before entering the closed loop for the Games, we were informed that we had to complete the hotel quarantine before returning to the general public. Why the need for quarantine after being inside a strictly closed circuit during the events? With so many people traveling to Beijing from other countries, there had been positive cases of COVID-19. Three days after the start of the Paralympics, a positive case was discovered in my hotel. Quarantine was mandatory for seven days – or 14 days if a positive case appears in your hotel. So 14 days is.

While I wasn’t thrilled about having to self-quarantine, it didn’t dampen my enthusiasm for attending the Paralympic Winter Games. I thought the best thing to do is to start preparing immediately. For anyone, being confined to a small space for a period of time can have negative effects on their mental health. I started to analyze the elements of my house that make me feel most “at home”.

As someone who is generally prepared for any “worst-case scenario”, I started making a list of essentials: hygiene products, cleaning sprays and lavender-scented laundry soap, my bedding, streaming TV subscriptions, the list goes on. But, being too thorough myself, I went beyond a mini fridge and a travel washing machine. I plugged in the fridge three days before leaving home and stocked it with cheese, meat, yogurt and milk. When it was time to leave, everything, including my clothes, fit nicely into two extra-large suitcases.

But all did not go smoothly. When I got to my hotel room, I plugged in the fridge and made sure it was set to “cold”. I didn’t need to take anything from it because everything was brought for the quarantine period. But, on the third day, I decided to try cheese. To my horror, it was hot inside the fridge – about 40 degrees! The cheese had melted. Luckily there was a fridge in the room so I plugged it in and transferred everything. You may think all was lost. Of course I did. However, the yoghurt and meat survived and I was able to get more cheese from the Games canteen.

Once we started quarantine, all attendees (222 people) were put into group chat with staff and volunteers. After a few hours, the chat was filled with special requests and specific food orders. Aside from those who wanted to avoid food waste or have food allergies and religious dietary restrictions, it made quarantine more stressful. The chat group made me feel bad for the staff who did their best to carry out everyone’s orders and make people feel comfortable. Finally, I sent my own message, which more or less said: Hotel staff work very hard. When you make so many requests, you put more work on staff. Let’s all be grateful for what we have, which is food and a place to live. Not everyone in the world has these things. Say thank you to the staff for their hard work.

My message received support and the group went silent for about three hours. Lesson learned: add hotel staff in case you might need something urgent, then leave the group so you can enjoy your quarantine with as little hassle as possible.

On the fifth day of quarantine, I woke up with a sore throat. Beijing is pretty dry, so I shrugged it off and played some video games. On the sixth day, I could barely swallow without wincing. On the seventh day, I was dealing with a small fever. What do we do when we are in quarantine to prevent the spread of a virus? I was conflicted. I decided to wait. After all, it wasn’t a total fever and I was still functioning. I was hesitant because I was unclear on the protocol – would they take me to the hospital immediately? Should everyone do an extra seven days of quarantine because of me?

On day eight it became clear that I needed help as my fever had soared to almost 39 degrees. I thought the best thing to do was to contact my team leader, who contacted the appropriate party. The staff were more than understanding and got in touch with a doctor who was able to diagnose me with strep, who then provided me with an antibiotic. Since all of my PCR tests for COVID-19 came back negative during their time in the closed loop, there was no fanfare or concern.

People may be put off by the idea of ​​quarantining outside their homes, but if you can prepare yourself with the items you know will make you most comfortable and get the attitude that you have more than many others in the world, you’ll find that’s not as bad as it sounds.

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