- DEMI LYNCH -
On January 22nd everything came to a halt in the city of Chongqing in south-west China.
It was one day before the Spring Festival and Lerato was about to head to work.
The city had been busy for days as everyone was preparing for the big festival.
At 6am that morning Lerato received a text from work and was told not to come in due to the Coronavirus.
At the time she didn't know much about the virus.
She had only been living in China for a year and still had trouble understanding the native language.
Because of this she struggled staying up to date with news stories about the Coronavirus.
Lerato didn't know this at the time but this virus was about to force her into eight weeks of self quarantine.
In the early days of self-isolation Lerato relaxed and took it easy.
She had already mentally prepared herself to take time off during the Spring Festival.
And she thought she would be back at work in no time.
But after 10 days in quarantine Lerato got a text to say her work would be closed all of February.
That's when she knew things were getting serious.
"In the first week of February everything got shut down," Lerato says, "Only one person per family was allowed to go out to the grocery store and that would be twice in a week."
Lerato says most people in China live in gated communities which made things easier for government officials.
"They locked all the entrances and opened just one. So they were able to monitor who was going in and out. Visitors were not allowed at all."
Once she realised she would be in quarantine for a longer period of time than expected Lerato strived to be as active and as productive as possible.
For the first three weeks of February she devoted her time to learning a new language.
She thought by the 15th of February everything will be under control and be back to normal.
"When that didn't happen I started to feel a lot of emotions. I felt overwhelmed, stressed and tired. The most frustrating part was not knowing how long I had to be in quarantine. You can only do something for so long to keep busy. We didn't know. Nobody knew. It was just a situation that was beyond everybody and we just had to wait for it to pass. But I had to change my way of thinking otherwise I would have ended up in a deep depression."
For the remaining time of self quarantine Lerato focused on taking it one day at a time.
She watched Eckhart Tolle’s motivational videos on Youtube.
She even had a go at online dating.
She says she made great friends on the dating apps but sadly got ghosted by some idiots.
Last week the eight week quarantine ended for Lerato and the people of Chongqing.
The city hasn't reported any new cases of the virus in 28 days.
Lerato says schools and colleges are now starting to reopen.
And surprisingly she has been appreciating seeing cars stuck in traffic.
"It's important though for people to understand China got to the point it's at now because people were obedient. If people don't listen this virus is not going anywhere. People are dying. Like this is the saddest thing mankind has ever seen. And many people across the world still don't understand the seriousness of this virus. "
Lerato wants people across the world to understand the severity of this virus.
She hopes more nations go into lockdown to stop the spread of the Coronavirus.
For those about to go into self isolation, she recommends we focus on taking it one day at a time.
And not be ashamed that we may just cry, a lot.
Announcer & Producer of 'The Nasty Woman Club Podcast'
Co-Producer & Co-Announcer of Radio 4EB program 'Fair Comment'