The world has just begun its journey of understanding and dealing with the COVID-19. However, NBL women’s basketball player Devanny King has been experiencing it from ground zero – China. She has been living over there with plans to return to Australia for her fourth professional season. 

All of those plans changed when what was supposed to be a brief stop in China for wrapping up a year there became a locked down country fighting the new illness. She shares her timeline through this whole process and gives insight into what it has been like since landing in China in January.

Jan. 5 – Returned to Beijing after time in the US during the holidays. Planned on staying in Beijing for one month to train before heading to Adelaide, Australia for my 2020 season with the West Adelaide Bearcats.

Jan. 7 – Chinese authorities confirm that they have identified the virus as a novel coronavirus, initially named 2019-nCoV by the WHO (World Health Organization).

Jan. 11 – Decided to stay in Beijing and not travel for the Chinese New Year Spring Festival which spans from Jan. 24 – Feb. 3.

Jan. 20 – China reports 139 new cases of the sickness, including a third death. They state they are in the process of making a vaccine. Confirmed that Coronaviruses are common and spread through being in proximity to an infected person and inhaling droplets generated when they cough or sneeze, or touching a surface where these droplets land and then touching one’s face or nose. We learn it can spread through human-to-human transmission. We begin to think about how many millions of people are traveling for the Lunar New Year and pray that it doesn’t spread massively throughout the world.

Jan. 23 – The Beijing Culture and Tourism Bureau cancels all large-scale Lunar New Year celebrations in an effort to contain the growing spread of Wuhan coronavirus. On the same day, Chinese authorities enforce a partial lockdown of transport in and out of Wuhan. Authorities in the nearby cities of Huanggang and Ezhou Huanggang announce a series of similar measures. Initially, we stayed inside due to the fact that a majority of shops were closed for the Chinese New Year. We also wanted to avoid the crowds from the celebrations at the public landmarks. This is only time of the year you will see mass shops closed to celebrate the holiday with their families.

Jan. 26 – We begin to hear of tours being suspended, public landmarks and highways public closed, transportation not advised, etc. Beijing said a section of the Great Wall and other famous landmarks would also be closed. Usually the day after the New Year is when Beijing is back to its buzzing self, this year though, it remained a ghost town. This was the beginning of self-quarantine. The China Association of Travel Services reports that all tours, including international ones, will be suspended.

Jan. 28 – Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom in Beijing. At the meeting, Xi and the WHO agree to send a team of international experts, including US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention staff, to China to investigate the coronavirus outbreak. We begin preparing exposure preventatives such as masks, gloves and no skin exposure when out in public. Originally, we only had masks that we would wear on high pollution days and winterized gloves. We start learning of the symptoms. We ordered the recommended masks and doctor’s gloves but supplies would take over a week to be deliver with logistics being highly effected by the virus.

Jan. 30 – We went to get groceries. Hardly anyone was on the streets, and we live in one of the busiest roads in the entire city. Most shops in the malls were closed as we entered a nearby mall to get groceries from the market on the ground floor. Before entering the grocery store, we had to get our temperatures taken from our wrists and foreheads and use hand sanitizer. On the same day, the WHO determines that the outbreak constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).

Jan. 31 –  We begin to learn about countries who are denying entry to foreign nationals who have traveled in China in the last 14 days. US is among them. With visa expirations, it was important to be cautious of not overstaying the visa and having a plan for how we would leave the country if necessary. Masks are sold out.

Feb. 1 – Beijing’s cases were growing daily. An app was created to see who was infected in your local area. Australia implements travel ban of non-foreign citizens who have been in or traveled through China in the last 14 days. This hurt my Australian visa process and extended its processing time.

Feb. 2 – Our apartment compound is now gated up, leaving a few entry/exit points. All gates require taking temperature through forehead or wrist before entering.

Feb. 3 – I began mapping out possible routes to take in order to get to Australia for my season. It would be required I spend 14 days outside of China before entering Australia. With the news of South Korea, Thailand and other Asian countries and their increased confirmed case count, I decided it was best not to travel with so many unknowns about the virus and length of time needed for my visa to go into effect.

Feb. 5 – More flights evacuating US citizens, returned from Wuhan and the WHO reaffirmed there was “no known effective treatment” for the coronavirus. No evaluations happened from Beijing, only Wuhan.

Feb. 6 – Registered at local police station, gloves, masks, temperatures taken and record next to name/passport info.

Feb. 8 – The US Embassy in Beijing confirms that a 60-year-old US national died in Wuhan on February 6, marking the first confirmed death of a foreigner.

Feb. 10 – Learning which airport I can fly to in the US so I can be tested as I am returning from China. Researching the necessary steps I would have to take in order for quarantine or self-quarantine if I decide to return back to the US. Limited flight options and very expensive one-way flights. On the same day, a team of international experts from WHO arrives in China to assist with containing the coronavirus outbreak.

Feb. 11 – The WHO names the coronavirus COVID-19.

Feb. 13 – Medical exam required for my Australian visa. I went to local hospital, and they would not allow anyone who did not have an appointment to accompany me. I had to verify that I have not traveled to Wuhan or had traveled on public transportation for two or more hours. Gloves and mask on at all times. Temperature taken before entering.

Feb. 18 – Learned an extension of public and private schools would be closed indefinitely.

Feb 19 – Limited shops, restaurants open, some begin to open back up slowly with caution.

Feb. 21 – The CDC changes criteria for counting confirmed cases of novel coronavirus.

Feb. 22 – Now monitoring my Australian visa application, gym is closed so all training happens in my living room. Opening game for my season is March 14th.

March 9 – Mandatory cards are needed to enter our apartment compound as residents. No visitors.

March 13 – The day before NBL1 Central’s opening day, the league announces a postponement until April 18. Still waiting for the travel ban to be lifted and visa approved.

For a while, I would wake up each day and check the reports. After three weeks of doing this daily, I stopped. It got to be consuming and also China’s numbers were decreasing which was promising. We have been inside on self-quarantine now for seven weeks. It has its hardships, but it was necessary to slow down the rapid rate at which the virus was spreading.

I found days where I felt defeated that I was not already in Australia pursuing my dream and into my fourth season playing overseas. Training for the upcoming season without access to a gym, a hoop or adequate equipment was challenging. My daily regime was bodyweight and HIT exercises in my living room on a yoga mat. But, every day I would remind myself that I am healthy and that I am in a better position than those who have the virus, have a loved one with the virus, or are putting themselves at risk every day because they have no other choice.

Most recently, I have been talking to friends and family abroad in US, Italy, Australia and in Mexico. Encouraging them through this season of unknown and unfamiliarity. Sharing with them the steps that we had to take in China when the virus was at its infancy and peak stages here, and the precautions that we still have in place.

I also used this time to strategize and market the non-profit, YOU ARE, for which I serve as a volunteer director. An organization dedicated to spreading positive self-belief through holistic health to developing youth across the globe.

If there is one piece of advice I could give to anyone during this time of concern, it would be this: Uncommon times call for uncommon measures. Everyone has a role in getting back to normality. That could be practicing self-quarantine like we have and social-distancing to not just get the virus yourself but to avoid passing it onto more at risk individuals. Or it could be using your resources to help those that do not have the same luxury. I believe that this pandemic has demonstrated the need to act with good behaviors in health not just for me but for the people around me. Individual behaviors make such a significant difference. How I behave impacts your health and how you behave impacts my health. Stay positive, stay smart and keep washing your hands.

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