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Locked-down Didi driver reunites with girlfriend



Didi driver Peng Hui rushed to hug his girlfriend Xiao Lei after his 14-day quarantine ended early on Saturday.

His enforced isolation was a matter of bad luck. Just minutes after he dropped off a passenger at the Mingtianhuacheng residential complex, it was declared shutdown after the discovery of COVID-19 cases.

Xiao worked overtime on Friday night but she managed to arrive hotfoot to the complex in Pudong’s Zhoupu Town from downtown at 11:50pm, 10 minutes before the community lockdown was lifted, to pick up her boyfriend.

When they met, she couldn’t help bursting into tears, and Peng’s eyes were also filled with tears.

She had been allowed to greet Peng from a distance outside the cordon line when she brought him sweaters and jackets to brace for drops in temperatures during his quarantine. This time, they could finally feel each other for real.

“What I want to do most right now is to hug him,” she said. “We rarely stay apart for so many days, and I want to spend the weekend with him.”

Peng seemed not to have suffered from the quarantine as he looked a little bit fatter than before, which according to Xiao, gave her reassurance.

“We chatted late every night after he finished his work,” she said. “I am really grateful for the help and care he received here, which sheds a light on humanity.”

Peng said: “I was kind of nervous at the very start when I was put under quarantine, but my girlfriend has been encouraging me all the time. Without her, I wouldn’t have been able to put myself together so quickly.”

Due to the community lockdown, they failed to celebrate their sixth anniversary. So, he prepared a hand-written love letter for her, with signatures of volunteers and residential committee workers as blessings.

Peng said they plan to marry next year, and unexpectedly, their love has grown stronger after 14-day separation.

The 35-year-old Peng, from Xinghua City in Jiangsu Province, has been working in Shanghai for more than 10 years. He became a driver with Didi Chuxing, China’s leading online ride-sharing platform, in July after he lost his job due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

He drove a passenger to the complex about 9:30pm on November 20. Two to three minutes later when he was about to leave, the complex shut its doors. He was completely bewildered.

Soon, two buses of medical workers arrived. Everyone in the complex, including Peng, was told to take nucleic acid tests. It took about five hours to test more than 6,000 people.

That night, he ate snacks he had on hand and spent night in his car. He had thought he would be permitted to leave once the result came negative. However, the next morning, he got to know that the complex was listed as a medium-risk region and he had to receive two more tests. He then realized that he was really stranded in the complex.

The residents’ committee workers vacated part of their office as his temporary shelter.