Six weeks before the coronavirus hit the Netherlands, Delta spoke to postdoc Dongliang Peng who was stuck in China. Back in Delft he’s serving a back to back quarantine.
(Photo: fernando zhiminaicela / Pixabay)

Six weeks before the coronavirus hit the Netherlands, Delta spoke to postdoc Dongliang Peng who was stuck in China. Back in Delft he’s serving a back to back lockdown.

On 4 February we spoke to Dongliang Peng who was celebrating the holidays with his family in Changsha, a city about 300 kilometres from Wuhan. When the Chinese government imposed a strict lockdown, Peng quickly realised that his planned flight would probably be cancelled and he would be unable to return to Delft.

“As expected, my flight on 15 February was cancelled as KLM had stopped their flights from or to China, but they did rebook me on another flight which was operated by another airline. I was then able to leave on the same day. When I arrived in Delft, I was in self-quarantine for two weeks. After that I was able to work in my office at TU Delft for another two weeks. And then, since 16 March, I have been working from home along with everyone else.”

‘Quarantine doesn’t mean you can relax too much’

Peng, who has been living in lockdown for quite some time, has adjusted to working from home quite well. “In Changsha I did not have my desktop, now I moved it from my office on campus to my flat.” Since living the quarantine lifestyle doesn’t mean he can relax too much, Peng tries to make the same progress as he would in his office. He therefore tries to meet his students and supervisors regularly online and uses the Forest app to keep away from his smartphone. To clear his head he likes to go outside to cycle or have some fun with his flatmates. “However, it would be even better if I could meet more friends and attend festivals. I had booked tickets for the BKBeats festival, which is unfortunately cancelled.”

Health boxes
When we talked to Peng in February, master student of Electrical Engineering Xiaoyao Luo also reached out to us. His parents were visiting his grandparents in Wuhan as the lockdown became effective. They were unable to return home and Luo was very worried. But, as Wuhan slowly recovers and everyday life returns, the roles are reversed. “Now they worry about me because they think the rules in the Netherlands are not strict enough to suppress the epidemic.” Luo’s parents, who live just outside Wuhan, were able to return home last month. “For them, not much has changed, but they do need to wear masks all the time,” he explains.

‘The Chinese Embassy is distributing health boxes’

Luo himself is more at ease since the last time we spoke. “The Chinese Embassy in the Netherlands is distributing ‘health boxes’ to Chinese students and scholars in the Netherlands. The box contains masks, antibacterial wipes and some immune system boosting medicine. Besides that, we can always contact the Embassy in case of emergency and the Dutch Government is trying hard to control the epidemic, so I don’t worry too much.” The one thing he does stress about is passing his exams. “I have less discipline at home.”

Luo is understanding of the Dutch Government not enforcing masks. “For now they need to ensure there are enough masks for all the medical related staff. For me, affordable masks are acceptable. I hope everyone stays safe and that we will overcome this hard time soon”
Peng, who also received a health care package, hasn’t used any of the items yet. “Even though I am worried as quite a lot of people in Delft have been infected by the virus, I just try to keep my distance from other people.”

Also read: TU Delft students in China unable to return home for the time being.