The release process started last Tuesday when I got a WeChat message that indicated that I’ll get my COVID test on Friday morning 5:30am and that I had to be ready for it. So mentally that started the count down process for me and Friday couldn’t come fast enough.
On Friday 5:30am I was showered, dressed and ready to do this. At 6:15am they still hadn’t shown up so I WeChatted the medical team and they simply told me to wait. Around 6:30am they showed up. As usual, in full PPE and a cart full of glass viles. They were going door by door. By the time they got to me they first took a throat swap. They swapped both sides of my throat and my tonsils. The kicker came with the nasal swap. They stuffed that probe so far up my nostril that I almost felt it in my throat. This was made more uncomfortable by the twisting and turning for what felt like minutes but probably wasn’t more than 15 seconds. I’ve had quite a few COVID test these last few days, but none stuffed that probe so far back in my nostril.
Once the team left it was back to the same monotony where I got onto my morning US calls. Around 8:20am I got another WeChat message explaining the release process the next day. Provided the COVID test came back negative, I would be released at 3pm the next day (Saturday). I had to wait until I heard a knock on my door and then take all my belongings with me downstairs to the reception and settle my bill there. That’s also where I would get my health certificate. They were very explicit that I should not go to the upper floors and go straight down. They probably had some kind of packing order in the hotel because it looked like everyone on my floor (as far as I could tell) would be released on Saturday.
Around 2:45pm I heard the long-anticipated knock on my door. I quickly packed some final things (charger and notepad) and I was on my way. It looked like everyone else on my floor was released at the same time. There was a small queue forming at the elevator because a family who had quarantined with kids and 7 large shipping boxes had to load those into the elevator by hand and it didn’t fit all at once.
When I arrived on the first floor it became clear that the Chinese government had taken over the entire hotel. It wasn’t just a couple of floors. Everyone downstairs was wearing full PPE, even though it was the end of our quarantine. I was a bit confused about how to pay for the hotel, I got the impression from all the other folks that the only way to pay for it is by WeChat. That would have been problematic because I didn’t have 7000元 on my Chinese bank account. I texted a friend if he could transfer the money to me in case I needed it, but that wasn’t necessary. I showed them my corporate AMEX card, and they accepted that without any problem. That was a pleasant surprise because not all hotels do in China. See my previous blog.
Once that hurdle was taken, I went on to the next desk, and there they gave me an official certificate that I had successfully completed the mandatory 2-week quarantine. I then walked out of the hotel, a free man, waiting for a friend of mine and his driver to show up to take me to my hotel in Shanghai.