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Expat In Post-Lockdown Wuhan: 'Things Will Never Be The Same'

Pisso Nseke left his apartment in Wuhan, China, on Wednesday — the first time since the city at the epicenter of the coronavirus crisis went under lockdown nearly three months ago.
Courtesy of Pisso Nseke
Pisso Nseke left his apartment in Wuhan, China, on Wednesday — the first time since the city at the epicenter of the coronavirus crisis went under lockdown nearly three months ago.

Originally from Cameroon, Pisso Nseke's work as a business consultant took him to Wuhan, China — where he was trapped when the city where the coronavirus first emerged sealed itself off from the world in January.

That changed on Wednesday. After 76 days, Nseke and the other residents of Wuhan are finally able to leave the city.

Nseke spoke to NPR's Mary Louise Kelly about what it felt like to set foot outside his apartment for the first time in nearly three months. Here are excerpts from that conversation:

You went out today for the first time. How did it go?

It was like a kid trying to cross the street without their parents. You know the feeling. It's like we're scared. And it was a little bit exciting, seeing a little bit of the city.

... We're not totally free. It's not like the storm is over. We still have a lot of asymptomatic cases, like silent carriers, so we have to be very vigilant. We still have to wear masks and social distancing and going out just for the essentials.

... It felt nice, but I didn't really feel that different. Because today I still walked out with my mask. So, the only time I'm going to feel completely free is when I'll be able to go out without a mask. And when it's going to be safe for us to completely talk to people, hang out with people and just go back like before, then maybe I'll feel completely free.

Did you get anything to eat?

Actually, I ordered a pizza. It's the first time I got a bite, after so long, almost three months.

... I got a Hawaiian pizza. ... Ham and pineapple, some cheese — extra cheese, always. It felt good.

I'm just grateful for being alive. I'm grateful that I was able to see this day because so many people lost hope. I know so many people that gave up and also so many people have died. So my prayers and thoughts are with those who've lost somebody due to this pandemic.

I was remembering the very first time we talked and ... you said, I'm not married yet. We were both laughing together, saying it must be hard to meet somebody under quarantine, not ideal conditions. I wonder, have you thought at all about when you might go on a date?

I am seriously thinking about that and it's made me think about certain priorities in life. I would like to settle down, have a family, have kids. So that is something that has really changed my perspective about certain things.

Listen to the full interview later today on All Things Considered. You can also listen to previous conversations with Nseke from January, February and March.

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Maureen Pao is an editor, producer and reporter on NPR's Digital News team. In her current role, she is lead digital editor and producer for All Things Considered. Her primary responsibility is coordinating, producing and editing high-impact online components for complex, multipart show projects and host field reporting.

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