The government eventually shut down the hotel and Xiao had to return to his friend’s house.
By then, he had developed a serious cough.
His friend was also running a temperature, so they decided to head to a makeshift hospital converted from a factory.
There he was treated with an assortment of intravenous drips, antiviral drugs and traditional Chinese medicine.
On February 4, Xiao finally received confirmation of what he had long feared — he was infected with the coronavirus.
Conditions at the makeshift hospital were basic.
Xiao initially had his own room, but got a “roommate” as the hospital became more crowded.
“I didn’t bathe for more than 20 days,” he said.
“I didn’t even have towels.”
“There was a smell of disinfectant on the food that made me nauseous,” he said.
“But then I think about my friends in Wuhan, all of them struggling to get a hospital bed, and I can’t complain any more,” Xiao said.
Xiao became the subject of vicious rumors in his friend’s township.
“That I had mutated, that I had already been cremated, that my friend had invited me deliberately to infect their town, or that my parents worked at the Huanan seafood market — many different versions,” Xiao said, referring to the Wuhan market where the virus is believed to have originated.
“I was under the greatest psychological pressure when I was diagnosed… I felt sorry for my friend.”
Xiao was finally discharged on Wednesday, and transferred to a quarantine location provided by the government.
He plans to donate blood plasma for an experimental treatment using cells from coronavirus survivors.
He also wants to quit his job at a media company in Chengdu and settle down in his home province once the outbreak ends, to be closer to family.
“I no longer want to keep drifting out there,” he said.