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Ben Kavanagh.

Coronavirus: What life is like under lockdown in Wuhan

Online news stories about the Covid-19 coronavirus disease are highlighting the role of citizen journalists.

News organisations often rely on the storytelling ability of ordinary citizens to cover events in places journalists can’t go, and Britain’s Channel 4 News has found an absolute gem of a citizen correspondent in Irish teacher Ben Kavanagh, who posted video diaries of life in locked-down Wuhan as the effects of the Covid-19 coronavirus disease became apparent. The channel has edited together his dispatches, culminating in a 14-day quarantine on British soil, into a 20-minute story called Coronavirus & Me. Kavanagh is at turns droll, pensive and stoic – his relief at reaching safety and seeing his mother is tempered with regret at leaving a life in Wuhan that he loved.

Wuhan diary

There are other Wuhan diaries, including a series made by Chinese cinematographer Hai Tang as he cared for his wife, an emergency-room nurse who developed pneumonia after contracting the virus. The series has been subtitled by a Western YouTube user and it’s intimate and at times very moving – in episode six, he ventures out to get flowers for their wedding anniversary. “I never really imagined it would happen to us,” Tang tells the camera in the first episode. “But now that it has happened, I need to face this head on.” 


This article was first published in the March 7, 2020 issue of the New Zealand Listener.

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