Dylan Ebrahimian and his wife JingJing live in the town of Jinze,...

Dylan Ebrahimian and his wife JingJing live in the town of Jinze, Qingpu District, Shanghai, China under quarantine. Credit: Courtesy Dylan Ebrahimian

It is an eight-hour, 16-minute drive east to Jinze in the Qingpu District of Shanghai, from Wuhan, epicenter of the latest coronavirus outbreak in China.

But, Long Island native Dylan Ebrahimian said last week in a series of recent emails about the virus and its impact, life in Jinze, the suburban town where he lives with his Chinese-born wife, JingJing Naihan Li, is far different than the scenes being played out in the international media.

Yes, Ebrahimian, 28, and his wife, 38, live in a town under quarantine, as do a reported 60 million Chinese, according to the World Health Organization. And yes, Ebrahimian wrote, shopkeepers demand customers wear surgical masks or face masks to enter stores, and there are checkpoints dividing the area where medical personnel and sometimes local volunteers take the temperatures of travelers before certifying they are well enough to pass.

But, Ebrahimian said last week, there have been no reported cases of coronavirus in Jinze, a suburb of Shanghai. And life, with some small accommodations and reservations, is pretty much the same as always.

"Our village hasn't been touched at all," Ebrahimian wrote a reporter last week, "though I did hear (unsubstantiated as of now) that one of the cases was from the town of Zhujiajiao, which is 15 minutes drive east of us, also in Qingpu. Our location is relatively tucked away. Most of the cases in Shanghai I believe come from transportation hubs . . . Probably people who are from Shanghai but live or work in Wuhan and came back for the Chinese New Year Holiday."

A graduate of Locust Valley High School and Stony Brook University, Ebrahimian is a master violinist and composer who has had his music licensed to "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" and "Teen Mom 2."  He also was a session musician and touring musician for the Long Island band Taking Back Sunday and was a member of another local band.

He said he met his wife, a renowned design artist and architect, years ago in London. The two have homes both in Beijing and in Jinze, which has a population of about 60,000.

According to the most recent data available from WHO, there have been 51,174 confirmed cases of coronavirus in China, leading to 1,666 deaths. The virus also has been found in 25 countries, with 683  confirmed cases and three deaths reported outside China. 

The WHO reported that 38,839 of the confirmed cases in China were in Hubei Province, which is where Wuhan and the market at the center of this outbreak are located. There were just 328 confirmed cases in Shanghai, with 1,167 in Zhejiang and 617 in Jiangsu, the two provinces that also neighbor Jinze.

The Chinese government has come under intense criticism within the country for its response to the crisis and has been the target of complaints from elsewhere too, The Associated Press reported.

An acceleration in cases last week wasn't necessarily an indicator of a surge in the illness known as COVID-19, because the hardest-hit province of Hubei and its capital, Wuhan, changed the way it counted cases, the AP reported. WHO continued to report lower numbers, standing by the way cases were counted before Hubei’s shift.

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, told the AP that while he was optimistic that China’s unprecedented quarantines would help reduce transmissions, without consistent numbers, it was hard to draw any such conclusion.

Across China, media images show empty streets and empty stores, malls, buses and trains.

Hospitals have been erected almost overnight to deal with the fallout.

"There hasn't been anyone in Jinze that has contracted the virus," Ebrahimian wrote in an email Wednesday, adding: "All our friends and family, who are located throughout the country, are healthy and safe. The quarantine was instituted just a few days ago, and dictated via postings and loudspeaker. The quarantine has basically divided up the area into smaller communities with checkpoints.

"We haven't had any trouble getting around on foot, and today we got a pass from the local administration in the nearby town Zhujiajiao to be able to drive outside the village. Inside the center of the village, you can walk around, though most shops require you to wear a face mask to enter. Since it was recently Chinese New Year, most of the shops were closed, but the supermarket and the pharmacy have remained open. All of the roads in town have a medical checkpoint, where they will stop you and test your temperature before you can proceed," the email said.

He said he had March and April shows in Beijing, Taizhou, Wenzhou and Xi'an canceled as a result of the outbreak and quarantine procedures, but said otherwise he and his wife were mostly unaffected. He did say masks were at times hard to come by, given the demand.

"To be honest," he wrote, "being both artists, we're used to working from home as it is! So, I think we're both very lucky in that respect."

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