Word is slowly leaking out about a cholera outbreak on the southern island province of Hainan, China. Students at the Hainan University were locked on campus after students began exhibiting signs of the disease. A couple of the cafeterias were shut down and no one could enter or exit the campus which stranded people in dorm rooms while government employees ran rampant through the school disinfecting walls and administering anti-cholera medicine. Students have suggested that the cafeterias were unhygienic and theorize that this may have allowed cholera to spread there.


What’s amazing about this is that officials in this tightly controlled country didn’t sever the internet, although they did threaten to at one point. This unprecedented move allowed one student to document days of quarantine which have been translated and made available by EastSouthWestNorth, including pictures. The depictions by the unnamed female student capture an intensely apocalyptic scene of chaos and confusion. The government’s response was confused, school administrators had no idea what to do and the trapped students were led from one senseless routine to the next without getting any information from the authorities. In fact, it is claimed, no one knew why they were on lock-down until their parents began to call them. Threats of the water being turned off, signing paperwork and taking medicine while their classmates were disappeared by doctors make for a pretty dramatic tale and I would encourage you to read the short entries.

While those of us in the states were voting the situation at Hainan University was a little more hectic:

I did not think about going down to the cafeteria at all. Perhaps I was scared off by what I saw when I walked past the cafeterias after class. There were crowds out the entrance and the university workers were yelling: “Do not enter. Please do not push. It is already full inside. Even if you get in, you won’t get any food.” There were many students dressed in camouflage uniforms trying to maintain order. They chased waves and waves of students back out. Even the temporary stands outside the cafeteria for instant noodles were mobbed. There was a notice which said that the cafeteria which re-opened yesterday is closed today because of water stoppage. The workers watched the people from the second floor. As I walked past this cafeteria, I heard a male student yell from the second floor: “I want to eat food, I want to drink water.”

When I got back to the dormitory, there were more notices downstairs. Two notices were new: water was stopped and the Internet will be down tomorrow. Everybody howled in collective agony again. I don’t think cholera is scary. But the lack of supply of the various essential things in daily life is the true terror.

I just learned that the water has been turned back on. I can make noodles.

Chinese officials have declared that the outbreak has been contained but there’s no word yet when students will be allowed to leave campus or when their families might be allowed access to see them.


Pictures and quote are all from our mystery reporter currently quarantined in Hainan University– hope she’s okay. Thanks to io9 for the head’s up.