Some thoughts on what is happening in my hometown Wuhan, China

Roy Borghouts

Usually, when people ask me what my hometown in China is, I say “Wuhan”, and normally people say that they have never heard about this city. However, at the moment my hometown is in the media all around the world. I could never imagine that Wuhan would become known to the world in such a bad way – through the news related to coronavirus.

At the moment, many countries are trying to evacuate their citizens from Wuhan, including the Netherlands. Airlines around the world are suspending flights to China. It seems that all the people in the world are trying to get out of Wuhan, Hubei Province. However, my family and friends are there. Certainly, the situation is extremely serious, here I just want to show another side of the life of the locals in the epicenter of coronavirus outbreak which you might not see in the media of the Western world.

The evening of Last Friday 24th January, 2020 was the Lunar New Year Eve. Before that I had a video call with my family. Although at that time all public transport had been suspended and the city had been placed on lockdown, people there still did not realize how serious the situation was. My father was at my grandparents’ home with my uncle and aunt. I noticed that my uncle was wearing a mask and I was told that he was having a cold. I was very scared at that time, as the family had planned to have a New Year dinner later and my mother, my brother, my sister-in-law, nephew, and two-year-old niece were going to join them. I immediately gave a call to my mother to ask them to cancel the dinner and stay at home. Also, I asked my uncle to go to a hospital to check if it was a normal cold. Glad my family members understand the situation and cancelled the dinner. My other relatives in other cities also decided not to go to Hubei for the annual family reunion.

Fortunately, my uncle just had a normal cold and is recovering from it quickly. My family members have been staying inside since the New Year Eve, so do all my friends in Hubei province. Many of them are complaining about the boring life caused by being trapped at home and they are trying not to be bored, like in the video below.

Wuhan residents chant ‘Keep it up, Wuhan’ out of their windows to boost morale

Of course, people really appreciate the work of all the doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals throughout the country. Meanwhile, they keep themselves updated with news and information via TV, and social media, especially the younger generation. Wuhan residents called for singing together out of their windows to boost morale through social media platforms.

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Photo source: Chinaplus 

Unlike 17 years ago when SARS gripped the country in fear in a media environment where social media did not exist or had not become prevalent, currently social media play a key role in information diffusion. People rely on some social media platforms (e.g. WeChat and Sina Weibo) to receive news and keep in touch with family and friends. I can imagine that in the future there will be a large number of academic articles analyzing the role of social media during this special period. At this moment, I just wish the virus can be controlled as soon as possible and people stay healthy and safe, and stay positive.

Wuhan is a beautiful city and it is well-known for its cherry blossoms. I wish that the cold winter there will be over soon and the cherry trees in Wuhan will bloom again in the beautiful spring.

Roy Borghouts


Dr. Qiong Qong recently defended her dissertation on Social Media Use, Media Credibility and Online Engagement Among Young Adults in China. Her main research interests include social media and political communication in a comparative perspective between Europe and China. She has published Chinese papers about electronic commerce and city publicity film in Chinese journals.