10 Day Quarantine for Using a Shenzhen Toilet

By Lars James Hamer, September 7, 2022

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Yuanzi spoke to That’s using a pseudonym for privacy reasons.  

As cases started to rise in Shenzhen last week, Yuanzi decided to leave her apartment in Futian district (before lockdown measures were implemented) and stay with her friend in Shekou. Her plan was simple: stay away from Futian district, avoid being locked in her community and continue living a relatively normal life.

On Wednesday, August 31, Yuanzi and her friends went to a restaurant in Wanxiang Tiandi shopping mall, also known as The Mix C, in Nanshan district. After their meal, the three of them went to a toilet located on the third floor.

It was an uneventful evening and nothing happened that they would ever think twice about. Or so they thought. 

“I was taking a nap on Saturday afternoon at my friend's place when my phone rang,” Yuanzi tells That's over WeChat from an isolation hotel in Nanshan district. 

“It was the Nanshan Health Authorities, they told me that my friends and I had been in close contact with a positive case and we were going to be transferred to a hotel and undergo quarantine that evening.”

After hanging up the phone Yuanzi discovered that her Yuekang Code (Guangdong province’s health code) had turned red. 

The positive case they had come in contact with had visited the toilet on the third floor of Wanxiang Tiandi. However, the positive case was a man who had used the men’s toilet, on the other side of the corridor they were on. Not only did they not even use the same toilet, they never even entered the same room. 

“They said that he had also visited the bathroom on the third floor but that we hadn't crossed paths,” Yuanzi recalls. 

Yuanzi and her friends suspect they were found via health authorities who used the mall’s CCTV cameras to follow their movements. The three of them had all traveled in their friend's car and they believe pandemic prevention and control staff were able to track the driver by tracing her license plate number. 

Yuanzi was only informed that she had come into contact with the positive case four days after the event. During that time, she had conducted four nucleic acid tests, all of which came back negative. 

When in the isolation hotel, staff even conducted a nucleic acid test on her phone. 

“At first, they told me that I’d only need to quarantine in the hotel for one or two days, as the policy requires five days of isolation and I had negative nucleic acid tests every day since Wednesday."

“But the policy kept changing and they said I’d need to stay for seven days in the hotel plus three days at home, starting from the day I entered the hotel.”

As Yuanzi lives with other people, health authorities later informed her she would not be able to return home for self-quarantine and must remain in the hotel for a total of 10 days. 

When we spoke to Yuanzi she had conducted eight nucleic acid tests (plus one on her phone) since the dreaded toilet trip, all of which had come back negative. 

“When you enter the hotel, they give you a form to fill out to assess your psychological state. One of the questions is, ‘Do you understand why the government has taken these measures?’ I replied, ‘I will never be able to understand why you’ve taken these measures.’”

Earlier this year, That’s interviewed staff working in an isolation hotel in Foshan to understand the toll the job can have on one’s mental health. 

READ MORE: COVID-19 and Mental Health: Life Inside an Isolation Hotel

[Cover image via Pxhere]

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