On January 31 I received a knock at the door of my Beijing apartment. It was the manager of lease renewals clutching a stack of flyers.
“Mr. Zhang, you’re feeling well?” she asked, using my Chinese surname.
“No fever yet.”
She laughed—foreigners and their comments.
“I know you don’t have the illness, but we want everyone to be safe. Here.” She handed me two copies of the flyer, one in Chinese and the other in English.
They were written by the Beijing municipal government and offered practical tips on how to protect oneself from the coronavirus. It had been eight days since the city of Wuhan had gone into full lockdown and seven since Beijing and other cities across China had declared a public health emergency. The flyers advised which government websites and social media accounts had the latest, most authoritative information and how to take basic precautions (wear a face mask, stay at home if possible), and they listed more than one hundred hospitals in greater Beijing that were designated to handle fevers. In case anything was unclear,