- Manufacturing in China & UK
20th Mar '20
Covid-19 is bringing much more than a global pandemic to our shores. We are facing a level of social and potentially economic disruption that few of us have ever contemplated. Fear of the unknown, as well as fear of the known health implications, are naturally impacting behaviour, sometimes changing our responses in ways that are not always logical or helpful.
With the UK facing evermore stringent ‘lockdown’ measures, we asked King Yin, our Head of Engineering in Shenzhen, to tell us how he and his family coped with the crisis in China. King’s words and heartwarming story have helped us to make a little more sense of what’s happening. Have a read, we hope it will help you too…
At first, it was fear that filled our hearts. There were no people in the streets. All places where people love to socialise were shut – no bars, restaurants, cinemas or parks for the children.
The news of the outbreak, as everyone knows, hit China as Chinese New Year’s Day (25th January) was fast approaching. This is such an important time of year for us – much like Christmas for the UK. Everybody is excited and looking forward to having a rest from work. And, more importantly, spending time with our family and friends. This is our chance to see important people in our lives that maybe we won’t get the chance to see for a whole year. It is a time for a lot of travelling and, normally, a time of great happiness.
Wuhan, the capital of the Hubei Province, was sealed off on 23rd January and everything changed. All the provinces quickly followed with the first level epidemic response – a wide-reaching “lockdown”.
Hard on the heels of fear, and so much disappointment, there was the inconvenience of not being able to do what we wanted, when we wanted. We all registered in the area we live to obtain a pass. This allowed us to get out and collect food, and any medical support we needed. Once in place, the process worked well. However, it wasn’t the normal daily life that we know and love.
There were also medical shortages at the start in Wuhan and Hubei. From equipment to medical staff. The Government worked quickly to get the situation under control.
Fortunately, there was an openness to the news reporting, which helped us. We felt well-informed and we could see that everything was being done to keep all our key services going – power, water, gas and food supplies etc. We had feared shortages of food, but there was plenty. As my colleagues in the UK know, food plays an important role in Chinese culture. So, they were happy to hear this.
The management of the situation really helped to calm our nerves.
I hear the phrase, ‘the new normal’ which I think makes sense. As an engineer, I could still work, supporting customers from home. It wasn’t quite business as usual, as I am normally visiting our factories, but many of them stayed closed for a few more weeks than normal, affecting a lot of Chinese people.
I managed to work on most days, supporting the UK team and keeping supply chains open, quoting on drawings, resolving engineering queries and planning for future manufacturing projects.
It really helped me to be able to work. I was very scared at the outset – fear is understandable, but can be difficult to cope with. But my UK colleagues kept my spirits up, probably more than they realise. I had a lot of concerns and the team reassured me. They made me laugh and even sent me face masks, which made me feel better too.
We need to support each other, be kind and life will get back to normal.
On the positive side, the crisis gave me a gift I will never forget. Precious time with my family, especially my one and only daughter – Yin Zirou (殷杍渘). She is nearly seven years old and lots of fun.
My daughter and I have never had so many talks. I will cherish these happy hours for the rest of my life. She still had to do all her schoolwork online and homework too. I normally work very long hours with travelling, but now we had time. Time is such a gift.
This week, Zirou drew me a picture as part of her schoolwork. It may not be the best picture in the world, but I love it. The picture says everything my colleagues in the UK need to know about the situation.
“It is not the virus that is terrible, but the fear. We know we can beat the virus.”
I understand the virus is now in many countries and each country has its own way of tackling the problem. Be happy that life will return to normal soon, if you follow advice. I wish for everyone to stay safe and also enjoy the precious gift of time.