The city is empty. The recommendation, with a tone of order, is that people do not leave except what is strictly necessary.

The Tica (Costa Rican) María Belisa Torres Pérez at the Great Wall of China

The subway is paralyzed, buses do not operate and taxis remain parked.

That is the panorama in Wuhan, the Chinese city quarantined by the coronavirus.

Three Ticas (Costa Ricans) are there, in the city where airports and train stations are closed, where few enter (anyway, who wants to go to the cradle of this evil that can cause death) and less leave.

One of them is the 31-year-old Nicoyane María Belisa Torres Pérez, who spends hours in her apartment.

She is pursuing a Master’s degree in Economics with an emphasis in International Trade at the Huazhong University of Science and Technology (HUST), a career that ends in July 2021.

María Belisa Torres Pérez is a native of Liberia, but for four years she lives in China, where she is studying Economics

She has lived in Wuhan for three years, although she arrived in China four years ago.

On Thursday and Friday of last week, and Monday of this week, she had to leave the security of her stay for a while. There was no other option.

On a bicycle, along with some friends, María Belisa undertook the task of looking for food, water and, above all, masks.

She had to pedal for half an hour. Although many supermarket shelves are empty, she was able to get some products and has provisions for about 15 days. The problem is the masks, because the recommended ones are sold out and some pharmacies are still closed.

She says that people were frightened to learn that Wuhan entered quarantine for an indefinite period, so she went out trying to fill the pantry.

María Belisa Torres says she found the supermarket shelves empty. Photo María Belisa Torres

Sometimes she is lucky,  manages to buy some products, but sometimes not.

“I try to keep calm, which is the most prudent, I follow the instructions given in the university, the government and the authorities of the province. I try to stock up on food and water because it can get a little complicated to have access to some things in the next few days; some are in short supply, and there are people who, seeing that they closed the city, began hoarding,” said María Belisa.

This Costa Rican tries to leave the apartments she moved to a month ago as little as possible, to avoid getting the coronavirus.

She affirms that the Costa Rican Embassy in China has been in contact with the Costa Ricans there, to know how they are and what they need, although entering or leaving Wuhan has become impossible.

“I talk with my family every day; they are calm because the contact has not been lost ”.

María Belisa has not had much luck to get the recommended masks, because there aren’t any. At the end of last week, she visited several pharmacies on her bicycle, but he did not succeed. This Monday she tried again, but they were closed.

The supermarket shelves in Wuhan empty out very quickly. Photo: María Belisa Torres

“There are the surgical masks that doctors wear, but the ones they recommend are of another type and they are out. We have been to pharmacies, but we did not find any. I use some recommended by a friend, but you have to change filters and it has been complicated,” she said.

She says that to enter any place they take your temperature and it is required to wear a mask.

Since she doesn’t have many, she goes out as little as possible.

“There are almost no people in the streets. As there is no public transport, people have no way to get around, except if it is in their own car. This Monday I went to buy things at a supermarket, we shopped around three supermarkets because in the first one the vegetables ran out; people go very early and buy large quantities,” she said.

Another Costa Rican in Wuhan is Paola Reyes Pérez. She is also a student and although she and María Belisa know each other, they do not live nearby.

Paola has had more difficulty finding supplies because the supermarkets near her home are empty.

For now, she manages to render the food as much as possible.

Translated from the La Nacion article “Tica en China sale en bicicleta a buscar agua, comida y mascarillas en ciudad en cuarentena”. Read the original (in Spanish) here.