Woman walks down busy street in Shanghai

Photo via Facebook

By Stephanie Swensrude

Kellee Kryba, an English teacher from Edmonton, has been indoors for the greater part of two months in her apartment in Shanghai. This is after recommendations from the Chinese government to remain indoors to slow the spread of COVID-19. She lives with her boyfriend Ashley Brosnan and her corgi Frankie.

“This virus is serious. We need to act just as serious,” Kryba said.

Kryba has been living in China since 2017. She teaches English to Chinese children. It has been a challenge to teach children via online classes. The students are aged 6 to 10 years old.

“How can you expect [them] to search for the materials, complete them, then upload them to a server?”

Kryba doesn’t believe Edmontonians would stay indoors if advised by the government. She explained that though Canadians have a lot of freedom, with that freedom comes a sense of entitlement. She emphasized that cancellations of concerts and sporting events are for everyone’s benefit.

Kryba explained that staying inside was difficult at first.

“I had a mini-breakdown about three weeks ago. I just felt trapped,” Kryba said.

She worked through this by staying in contact with her English-speaking friends via FaceTime, as well as venturing outside to walk her dog through the empty streets.

“It’s annoying. But it’s working. The cases in China are lowering every day and hopefully soon we will be cleared to return to work.”

When asked what her day-to-day life looked like, Kryba explained that she isn’t actually on strict lockdown. It has been suggested to remain indoors by the Chinese government to limit the spread of the virus and most people have listened to this recommendation.

Kryba says if citizens choose to go out, their temperature is checked upon entering a public space. If they have a fever, they won’t be allowed in.

“I went out last weekend and the police closed down the bar because there were ‘too many people’. There isn’t a certain magic number, but they are limiting the number of people in each establishment.”

She explained that at coffee shops, customers are not allowed to sit at the same table as anyone else.

“You still have to wear your mask… have you ever tried drinking coffee with a mask on?”

Kryba has spent her time cooking things like bread, pizza dough and cookies from scratch, as well as catching up on cleaning jobs around the house.

Kryba acknowledged that many people are bound to be upset by events being cancelled.

“It’s a tough time for everyone, not just those who have had events cancelled or classes postponed … if we all agree to keep each other in our efforts, it is possible for this to pass and to keep each other safe.”

Kryba expressed frustration at the jokes she sees about the virus. She stressed the importance of not treating this like the common cold or flu.

“The virus has reminded us all that things can be taken away in an instant.”