The whole world is now affected by coronavirus.
Physically, we need to stay separate and apart as never before in modern times. Mentally, however, the situation brings us together in a common effort to handle and control the contamination.
Here are 200 words from around the world.
We have received texts from the countries marked with red. Further testimonies will be added continuously.
There have been three waves. First came disappointment and anxiety as I have to cancel all my plans and projects for upcoming months. People in art understand what it is for someone to prepare, to think through and to anticipate a project read magic to happen. And suddenly, you have to postpone everything because something bigger and unknown is about to happen.
Then came fear. As I’ve got plenty of time and vivid curiosity I’ve started to read, I am very accurate with my sources, and it made things darker. Aggressive virus, no vaccine, overwhelmed health-care systems around the globe. I was thinking about my loved ones, grandmother, parents. This is a kind of anxiety that usually parents have for their kids: outside world is big and scary and a kid is too little or has no power to stand up for himself.
Thirdly, came acceptance and reflection. I cannot do much, I should just live it through. Wash hands, stay at home, read and write. There is something bigger than our plans and our expectations like global pandemic, but also like our human spirit, love we have for each other, care and protection we want to share with the most vulnerable, human connections that became more important than ever. It’s a time for reflection of what is normal and what is important for us like a coffee and ice cream with close ones in a crowded café in a beautiful day.
A poem for our times
We flit like shadows through empty streets
Lost souls condemned to wander;
Your face is lined in sheets of grey.
I quickly turn my gaze away, afraid to look
And see my sad indifference reflected in
The mirrored fear that fills this stranger’s eyes.
And still, the world spins on, trees grow,
Clouds form, and now the breeze
Brings mocking gusts to taunt my solitude
And carry with each lonely nudge my ghostly sound.
Empty echoes fill the air with silence.
Perhaps we were not ever really here.
My name is Joshua Pollock. I am a single forty-six-year-old man living in Portland, Oregon (USA). I had two jobs prior to the escalation of the Coronavirus. I worked at a consignment shop and teach history online for a community college. My boss temporarily closed down the consignment shop to keep everyone safe.
Most people I know are social distancing properly. But many friends are dealing with loneliness and depression. We Portlanders love cafes, bars, and nature excursions. Our lifestyle is put on hold and we feel it.Yet Portland does have many unhoused people. I live several blocks away from a street with several tents set up. This issue was critical before the pandemic. Current conditions makes it more so.
I’m luckier than many. So, I’m trying to keep positive. The uncertainty of everything is overwhelming. I miss seeing my twenty-one-year-old daughter, my cousins, and friends. My daughter lives in an apartment with her friend in St. Johns. We talk often on the phone and I send her money. She is struggling financially due to loss of income. Times are hard but there is hope. Like many in the world now, hope is all I can hold onto.
New York, USA
Christian Svanes Kolding
Every hour of every day is filled with the sound of ambulance sirens. Every time I step outside, I see things I don’t expect to see: an ambulance parked on a neighboring street, paramedics in hazmat gear attending to yet another patient on a stretcher; a truck outside a hospital that’s being loaded with bodies, which have been placed inside white industrial bags; empty shelves in a supermarket that never seems to be restocked; medical supplies we can’t get.
I’m from Denmark. I live in Brooklyn with my American wife. We’re healthy-ish. We’ve had some symptoms. “We’re both monitoring” is a common thing we say these days. Outside, I wear a strange juxtaposition of running clothes and protective gear that includes a homemade face mask and latex gloves but we stay mostly inside our apartment, where many hours of each day are spent managing clients on video calls. That too is a strange paradox. We try to stay focused.
At night, we lie in bed and listen to the sirens beyond our window. It is nonstop. There’s no other traffic, no other activity outside. Just the sirens, long into the evening. We’re not safe. No one is safe right now.
Sara Riis Hasselskog
I have possibly been infected with corona virus and voluntarily quarantined for the past three weeks. I’ve had an overwhelming shortness of breath that has been my constant companion during these weeks.
I am a single mother of a 3,5 year old girl. Her father lives abroad. Since I have been sick, my daughter has been at home with me. Preschools are still open in Sweden, but I don’t want to risk infecting others while dropping her off. Life of a single mother is never easy, but it’s been a real challenge entertaining a small healthy child while I myself have literally been gasping for breath for all this time.
We share our apartment with a friend and my flatmate is not infected so far and has provided me and my daughter with food and things we need from the outside world. We have had everything we could ever wish for.
The first week I didn’t work, because I was too sick and my daughter was sick too. But after that I have been working on my laptop when my daughter is sleeping. I am a journalist. I get up really early in the morning, three hours before my daughter awakes. And I work up to three hours after she goes to sleep in the night. It’s hard, but I am grateful of my situation anyway. I still feel a shortness of breath, but I am alive. I still have a job, and my daughter keeps me motivated. I can take care of my daughter during the days and provide for us by working when she sleeps.
For all of us, it will take grit and determination to get through this. When I am better I will help sick people and go buy food for them. Because I have already had corona and I’m not scared.
Few weeks ago I was planning how I am returning to work after having two kids. i was planning on working from home for a few years, blogging, being a freelancer. I was looking for opportunities. Asking around.
Now I am considering cancelling our vacations, plan nothing but the meals for the week and worrying about when I can see my 60+ parents and 80+ grandma again. My husband conveniently broke his ankle just before the virus spreaded in Hungary, so we are together at home for weeks now. No kindergarten for three weeks, so we are truly really all the time together, the four of us. We talk on the phone to the next door neighbor. We see the faces of each other only, fighting toddlers not wanting to sleep and trying to get everything on our table while between 9-12 i cannot go to pharmacies, drogeries or food shops as these times are reserves for 65+ years old people.
I feel like we just float in the void. Our lives on hold. Our relationships with others on hold. We worry about older family members, about our income. We cannot see the end of this. Uncertainty is the reality we live now in. We wish for harder measure to be taken by the government, hope for lockdown, and it does not come. The worst is not knowing how long this lasts. We are put on hold, literally.
The Corona virus emergence made me realise that I have never truly lived but rather rushed through my 45 years of existence. My life came to a standstill before most Namibians’ because my production inputs are predominantly imported from China, where business closed in December. I had to find local expensive substitutes, thus hurting my finances.
My family’s health could have been in danger too, because I recently had consecutive excursions with American based friends; been to various offices, malls, banks and hugged many friends, in addition to cash transactions with Portuguese and Chinese tenants occupying my Airbnb. I can’t remember having been careful at any of those points.
My kids’ NO school related anxieties added to my stress. While social media and international TV channels have made me a globetrotter, physically, I haven’t been outside our yard since the country’s lock-down. The only places I have been confined to are my kitchen-city, lounge-les, bedroom-ville, saint-bathroom and balcony-bay; staring without touching my nuclear family, and appreciating the spectacular landscape, clear sky and colourful birds and insects I never noticed existed. It had to take a virus for me to realise the things I truly need are here within my reach.
When COVID 19 became more heightened, I was on a trip. It was extremely scary travelling home through an airport and knowing that I was standing shoulder to shoulder with people from all over the world in the customs area. I was very afraid that I had encountered the virus and brought it to my family. I self-quarantined before it became ‘the norm’ but I’m glad I did. That was 21 days ago, and I feel OK.
My biggest concern and fear is my mother’s health will fail during the quarantine. I’m worried that I won’t be able to hug her. I’m worried that if her health fails that she will die without the comfort of her family around her. My Mom has Alzheimer’s and she is filled with anxiety and fear.
My son has had a LOT of screen time and is doing a lot of video gaming. I’m worried that he will feel alone. I’m worried about how much screen time he is doing. I’m worried what isolation will do to him in the long run.
I try to distract myself with work, podcasts and tv. I try to avoid watching the news or TV because it just makes me more anxious. I try to have my family be my priority and focus on comfort and care.
I’m going to write a letter to my Mom and be sure to mail it today.
St. Louis, USA
The bad: I own a DJ/entertainment business called Porta Party DJs, and we currently have no income due to all weddings, corporate/private events being canceled and bars/nightclubs being shut down. Some events were rescheduled for later in 2020, but many were canceled. The MLB season has been postponed, so the St. Louis Cardinals have no home games until it resumes. That is a huge hit for me since I work 3 jobs (before, during and after) for every game. I hope and pray we are somewhat back to normal by July so I can start earning money again. Otherwise, I’m not sure what I’m going to do for income or work. I’m currently researching unemployment options and assistance from the US government stimulus package and hope that is enough to get us through this.
The good: my wife and 3 teenage kids (17, 16 and 14) and I have been able to spend a lot of time together and become closer as a family. We are trying to make the best of it by making family TikTok videos and doing projects around the house. They are managing doing their online schooling very well so far.
In Peru, as we understood the initial rising numbers of COVID-19 patients across the Atlantic, we hoped the initial epidemic wouldn’t be as severe, like when it happened with the H1N1 virus. Now it is clear for most of us that this pandemic cannot be confronted individually anymore. Our government is quickly learning and adjusting its actions to the changing crisis, taking in consideration not only public health but also economic and social measures. This is bringing hope for the current weeks but we are worried for the upcoming months.
As for myself, I came back to Peru after studying and working 20 years abroad, including Scandinavia. I currently work as a Public Health Manager for one of the main country hospitals dealing with COVID-19 patients. Our hospital is constantly under restructuring as hospitalization beds needs are increasing and healthcare professionals are dropping off for being on risk groups. People feel very sensible in the middle of this crisis but at the same time feel closer and empowered as a team. It is sometimes difficult keeping up the energy on long shifts and then being specially careful at home in order to avoid cross-contamination. It is specially tough not being able to hug and being close to my parents when I am back from service shifts.
My kitchen is now my office and my living room sofa is my studio. Zoom is my new reality of face-to-face interviews. The radio keeps airing, but at times, the lack of direct human contact can be painfully audible. This crisis has fast-forwarded our use of technologies to mitigate the change in sound. We have asked people to record their own audio diaries to document their life in self-isolation, and sometimes they turn out to be surprisingly emotional. It seems that people are particularly drawn to these human-interest stories as they look for ways to share their overwhelming emotions.
Last night, I went for a walk in a nearby forest and noticed how people tried to avoid each other on the trails. I came home and realized that the digital world suddenly makes me feel safer than the world outside. I poured myself a glass of red wine and dived into the comfort of a Zoom concert, where my first-grader nieces performed on piano and violin in their rooms, all dressed up and excited. In a world of technology that tends to divide us, I am curious to see how it can bring us together in a time of crisis.
I am lucky. Before the lock down (decided on March 7), I left my hometown, Brescia (Lombardy, Italy), for a little village in the mountains. During the month I have spent here, my hometown became the epicenter of the epidemic. Here I don’t hear the ambulances and the bells ringing for the dead. Here time is suspended. There is full of snow and it is so quiet. I still receive the phone calls though, like this morning, announcing the dead of my friend’s father.
Even though I know I am lucky, all this is hard. We are in the 5th week of confinement and schools are closed. That means I have to do all the things that I normally don’t: cook 3 times a day and homeschool my kids. And if I don’t it’s because I hate this. I am also supposed to work which is really hard and it’s frustrating not to be able to do my job correctly (I am an academic). I have very few moments for myself, if none. The harder thing it’s not knowing when all this is going to end. Is my University going to reopen? And my kid’s schools? When will I be able to leave? (the last decree forbid people to leave the municipality where they are). My husband is in Brescia and I don’t know when we are going to be reunite. As time goes by, the end of containment seems to be slipping away.
I sit more by the window than I used to do. Now I start in the morning with a coffee by hand. Not that there is much to look at. There is not a single parking place left and no cars except a few vans come trough the street. My wife and I hardly go out except for a ride outside town to nature, that seems completely untouched by the situation. We are old people and can deal with being locked up alone.We have worked together for 55 years and it takes more than this to make us explode...
We have daily routines like playing Rummy at 2 o´clock and at 4 I read a chapter from a book. At the moment Elliot Pauls ’ My Paris’. We had long ago ordered a trip to Paris in the midlle of april. Now we are waiting for the money to be payed back...Sometimes when the sun is shining, we sit by the open window and pretend we are at the beach. We keep in touch with family and friends, we eat and drink well and we will go to Paris...
Hi, this is Katharina Schwarzer, a self-employed 52-year-old woman from Vienna, Austria “locked” with my husband and the youngest of my four kids.
As we were asked to stay at home, we prepared a bit. I took care that all my children are safe and could stay healthy, especially mentally. Two of them have jobs “outside” (one at a primary school, the other at a post office), so they are still contacting others, one lives with us, but the girl, an artist, is living alone. So as others were busy buying toilet paper, we went out for shopping a huge amount of arts and crafts materials.Good idea, as it turned out – it is nearly 3 weeks now, and no sign that this will come to an end.
My household is happy: our IT skills are needed, we can work from home as well as our office next door, my teenage son stays in his room, on his computer, leaving it for meals.
But: around us, I see many people suffering a lot from this situation. In Austria, at the moment law is made for “standard people”, seen from a conservative view. So all fine, if you are a couple with father in home-office, mother taking care of two kids, who follow lessons on their tablets. If not? No one cares. I’m scared.
Modica, Sicily, Italy
Some days we are sad, even desperate, other days we are calm. We have relatives that are ill with coronavirus, and we cannot go and see them. We see no one but the masked clerks at the grocery store once a week, before we scurry back home. Even then, we can only go out one at a time.
Our garden is our solace that soothes us while our beloved wounded country struggles to survive. We’ve been home for 23 days now, and watch nature thrive in spite of our sadness and worries. The air is fragrant with lemon blossoms, new fuzzy almonds appear on a tree, a joyous carpet of bright wildflowers is underfoot. We eat fresh artichokes and juicy oranges; a farmer leaves us 4 eggs in our mailbox. We pick fresh flowers to adorn our lunch table and they bring us joy as we eat. We are two people, we are safe, we know we are the lucky ones.
Someday we will emerge into a world that will not be the same as the one we left. We hope it will be a better one, but we are unsure. We hope and wait, and wait some more.
New York, USA
They say you must journal during this time. They say you must keep a record because placing yourself inside of history is important. They say writing will give you some form of clarity. But each word, each sentence, each simile is making me angry. I’m angry at our politicians, our failed health care system, and our selfishness.
I’m angry at us.
I’m angry at myself for not doing more.
We are in a period of mass undoing. This pandemic is stripping away all the surface, and it’s leaving us undone. It’s leaving us naked, down to our last skin.
This pandemic has put a dent in our trust of the future, and many of us are in a hurry to forget its existence. But if we let it slip from our memory, we will neglect the lessons this global epidemic is teaching us as individuals, and as citizens. So far, I have learned that my community is everything, and I have to continuously add my love, my wisdom, my support, and my common sense to its resource bank. I have also learned that I cannot be docile in the political process.
This is not the new normal. This is the normal created by poor leadership, lack of public health care, lack of education, and profit before people. We should not use these words to inadvertently benefit a flawed and an unjust system. During wartime, life goes on.
This idea is deafening to our consciousness. But yes, during wartime, life goes on. The people work, cry at the demise of their land, and cry at other things, they laugh, they breathe, they expand, and they live for another day. It’s not the new normal, they have just adjusted because humans adjust. We then make it standardized, and then we adjust again.
Wellington, New Zealand
At the beginning of March, few Kiwis could envision that in less than a month, their country would so drastically change. Athough the virus had hit other parts of the globe hard - life was fairly normal here. There was a naivete from some folk that somehow Covid-19 wouldn’t impact us.
After years of saving, my partner and I were fortunate enough to buy a house to start our family in. The move in date was set for 17 April.
Skip to early April and we live in a new reality. We are a week into a month-long lockdown. Our government has shown strong leadership but the economic costs are nonetheless devastating. NZ’s biggest industry, tourism, has essentially disappeared. Many Kiwis have lost their jobs. Businesses and media are failing. My partner and I are working remotely and thankfully our jobs are safe. We stay with friends and don’t know when we can move into our house. We are lucky. So far, NZ has around 700 cases and one death. I feel for everyone impacted but particularly medical workers and at-risk communities. We all wonder what the future holds but nobody has any idea what the post-Covid world will look like.
We are approaching fourth week since the deadly coronavirus threw my life into disarray. what has changed since then is a question which eventually haunts, I am cautious but equally afraid too to go out: to meet friends, to visit hospitals to meet frontline warriors, to restaurants and shopping places and withdraw money from ATM’s.
All concerts, sporting events, major conferences stand cancelled and conventions for every industry which i can think of.
I have now more become a homebody. My only routine is to read books most of the time and keep surfing Twitter and Facebook to know the latest covid-19 global updates.
Life has become a bit boring and spontaneity has gone out of my life.I plan every move carefully not at the cost of life.i am not fine with it but when you are faced with a global pandemic, compromise is the last option with you.
I do write some freelance pieces because my profession demands it. I don’t know if I am unlucky to miss a $5000 Documentary project which demands to shoot inside quarantine units and talk to Doctors while they are working. i have regrets but given the outdated health sector we have to handle covid-19 patients, i have to take every possible step to protect myself.
Afraid of the situation prevailing globally, the preferential discussion of the family where all other programmes including attempts to look for a girl to whom I should marry and renovate existing house is let all take precautions and follow guidelines to survive through covid-19 crises.
I’m an actor in London. Until three weeks ago, I was performing in a new translation by Tony Kushner of
Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s The Visit, starring Lesley Manville at the National theatre. I also played in Kushner’s Angels in America, about the outbreak of the Aids virus in the early nineties. The National theatre is now closed. I have since work shopped a new play, After Life on Zoom for the National, although we don’t know when the theatre will re-open.
I’m divorced and FaceTime my daughter and ex-wife, who are in the states. My close friends and relatives speak by phone. Since I am a senior citizen, I get preference at my local supermarket. I eat well and drink a glass or two of red wine with supper. My health is generally good. I have a very mild form of asthma, requiring the occasional use of an inhaler. I’m diligent about hand washing and using anti-bacterial sanitizers.
When I have been in a long run of a play, I usually set myself the task of reading books. Since this virus looks like the equivalent to a long run of a play, I have decided to re-read Proust. It is the most recent English translation, published by Penguin, and it is like visiting an old friend in whose company, I relish. It is dense and full of riches, and it is a slow read. I hope when I finish Proust’s In Search of Time Lost, we will be over the worst.
I don’t even know what day it is today.
We are 250 kilometres away from the nearest city in the middle of a national park, and we can still feel the impacts of this global affliction. There’s now tape on the floor in the supermarket, dictating how far apart you have to stand from other people. In the petrol station. In the post office.
The Crocodile Hotel is empty. The local swimming pool, the visitors’ centre. Even out here, in the middle of nowhere, in our little town of 1000 people, the world seems to have stopped.
My daughter calls to me from the dining table asking for more coloured paper to decorate another toilet roll monster, while my son tugs on the leg of my pyjama pants as I try to prepare some breakfast for the three of us. I hope they don’t get too bored of each other today.
I wonder what kind of a day my husband is having at work.
It’s a beautiful day outside.
I can’t write. The imaginative part of my brain is shut down and all activity concentrates on practical tasks. It’s a kind of standby function of creativity; survival instinct can concentrate on necessary work.
Today a carrier comes with a blueprint of my new novel ’The Last Humanist’. I wouldn’t be able to write it now. My brain is paralyzed and dangles like a soft bullet in Faraday’s cage. Surrounded by a vibrant field of tension - a closed grid woven of media stories about casualties, privations, dyspnoea, chaos, military trucks, skating rinks, refrigerated containers, fears and lonely death.
When the screen goes off and I go on to feed the sheep, chickens, ducks, goats, geese end whatever needs to be fed at the farm, the voltage drops. Sunshine makes my frontal lobes unfold from fetal position and the down-to-earth work seems the only way forward. In a little while a carrier will come with the novel in print. The story is pure fiction, but during the years I’ve written on the manuscript reality has overtaken inside the crawler lane. The novel is about humanity and a pandemic. I wouldn’t be able to write it now.
My corona-life? On hold. Chaotic. Family-oriented. Hopeful.
Before I was often on the road. My last work trip to US was in the beginning of march. The virus still seemed abstract at that point. Even so close to the breakdown nobody could image its scope.
As a freelance film journalist, I am used to working remotely. Writing on an airplane, café, park bench. But a three-year-old jumping on you makes it more challenging, no doubt.
My outlets have limited external commissions, but I still work – a privilege. My fiancée’s work is intact. The budget’s tighter, but we’re managing. Although some expenses are hard to accept - like paying for a closed kindergarten. The government’s propositions are populist and won’t help much.
After the lockdown, we moved to my parents. We stacked on provisions, try to stay in. Sharing duties, keeping each other company, trying not to kill each other. We read the news, talk, but try not to panic. A garden and nearby forest are soothing to a psyche so suddenly entrapped. I think about the world after, how different it will be, because it will. I just want us all to be there to witness it.
On 23th of March Greek government declared a strict restriction on movement for the whole of the country, allowing people only to leave the house for going to work and do necessary shopping trips.
Due to harsher restrictions of movement in Greece and the fear of catching the virus people are trapped intubier squads.
NNK visits six spots on a regular bases.
Big factory: 150 (usually 100-130)
Small factory: 50 (30-40)
Port factory: 11 (8)
Port squad: 7 (new)
At the moment the team of No Name kitchen in Patras consist of one member who will stay until the beginning of June. Currently it is not recommended for Other volunteers to join the operation since they would have to put themself in quarantine for two weeks and an after the risk of getting infected by SARS-CoV-2 and bringing the virus into the squads rise with every number of people working on the ground.
While being in the squads high cautions of corona preventions are in place, wearing masks and gloves all the time changing them regularly, also when changing the spot. Keeping distance of two meters to everyone else is standard, just as the prevention of touching ones face.
Next to the regular distribution of food and NFI and the report of police violence, the education of corona prevention, on basis of who guidelines is done in the squads. At the same time the number of distributed soap units has been increased starting with 233 units in the time between the 16.03 – 22.03, 460 units between the 23.03 – 29.03 and keeping these numbers up.
On the 2nd of April the corona task force was founded consisting of different former volunteers or volunteers still on the ground in the operations of nnk with different work background from medical to organizational and langue based skills.
Goal of this task force is to center the knowledge on how to deal with this crisis for people on the ground, volunteers and people in the squads.
In this time of crisis the local partner KINISIS is more than a Great help. The leaders of KINISIS help distribute food to the big factory, enable the volunteer to contact a doctor in any case of questions and organizes the support of the local community of Patras.
Paris is very quiet these days : Almost no traffic, nor anybody in the streets; long , socially-distanced lines in front of grocery stores – hushed conversations from afar.
When you walk around (as you are allowed to, less than one hour a day, less than a kilometer from your place) it’s as if you moved within a bubble, pushing around people you meet, who feel you/they are too close… A friend remarked on this new conscience of other people’s presence...
The general mood is subdued, the city is silent as never before in my experience.Being both retired, my wife and I settled rather easily in the confined routine: Seldom shopping, short walks, ample time for cooking, long phone conversations with friends, video meetings with our sons (one in Germany) - and a DVD in the evening.
Shopping is constrained: Admittance is function of outgoing customers, etc.Joking a lot («The vaccine Pasteur institute tested on mice is promising: The tested mice stopped hoarding noodles and toilet paper»…).
We live in a comfortable place, it feels rather like a vacation so far, actually – but for the news from my NGO: Mothers and children constrained in hostels, inability to receive people in need.The ongoing thinking is what next? [How] will it end? What could be «back to normal» ? Lots of uncertainty.
The social networks are abuzz with discussions, fake news, hoaxes… all of a sudden, sixty million amateur virologists have an opinion on anything and everything Covid-related, the government policies – too soon, too late -, China’s role in spreading the virus & Russia’s in trolling the web, Trump and Cuomo.As of now, I feel no fear – yet. Lots of anger about the past policies towards hospitals and the health system.
What strikes me is the relative paucity of conversations about the economy and the – coming? Already there? - crisis. You read «worse than 1929», and it is met by resounding silence. Staggering figures are shot to and fro: 2000 billion this, 40 million that, curves are shooting up or down, and it’s hard to make sense of it all.
A few voices try and launch a conversation about «OK this shows what a sham our global system is/was… what now?».
People are dreaming of having a beer with pals...
Puerta Plata, Dominican Republic
It is quiet, too quiet. We are privileged. We have our house, our pool and part of our children and grandchildren around us. The beaches are closed to avoid crowds gathering there. The nature around us is even more beautiful now, because it looks so pristine without all the people. We can still go out during the day, but we have a curfew from 5 pm to 6 am. Many locals have lost their jobs in the turist Industry. Being a developing country, the government is doing a good job with different help programmes, and the banks have offered everyone a 3 months pause on their loans. But it still does not change the fact that many families are left without income from one day to the other. If society will not start up again, it will have devastating consequences. We are trying to help the ones closest to us, but that is just a drop in the ocean. It makes me sad to feel so helpless....
Francis Kevin Clarke
We are currently existing in a time that no one could believe would be possible outside of Hollywood blockbuster . What feels like a world wide house arrest , has denied people of their regular routines . From people being fortunate to be able to work from home ,to thousands of people losing employment and even their own business .
Fortunate for myself I’m in guaranteed employment and my income has not decreased as I am in the British army , but even our daily routine has completely changed and our upcoming training exercises have been cancelled .
I haven’t seen my girlfriend since the government introduced travel restriction . I can no longer arrange plans to visit my parents or siblings back home in Dublin (Ireland ) Fortunately we live in age where the technology we posses allows us to keep in contact with the important people in our lives .
I am always one to search for a positive in every situation , unfortunately this time I am struggling to find one . However I feel that such a world epidemic puts things in to perspective . It allows us the appreciate the important things in life.
At first I thought Corona wouldn’t affect our lives in Finland too much. Well it started to do so in the second week of March. My husband returned from a skiing holiday in Tyrol and two days after that the area was named one of the high-risk areas. He’s been working from home ever since.
I am a language teacher at a primary school and remember watching on March 16th proudly how our government’s lady leaders told that schools will be closed on the 18th.
Our own children in the 1st and 5th grade have been distance learning at home and me distance teaching English and Swedish to 189 pupils. On some days I work at school since 1st-3rd grade pupils are allowed to come to school. There have been about 20 pupils (out of 430).
The first week I thought that if Corona won’t hit us, some sort of mental illness will... There was so much work teaching our own kids how to do their tasks (webpages, Teams) and figuring out how to organise my teaching and being the cook/caretaker at home at the same time. And worrying too much, of course.
This week I think we will manage this. Schools will be closed at least until the 13th of May. Summer holidays start on the 30th. We all have been in good health and can still go out and the kids still have their piano and guitar lessons. Distance learning by video calls to their teachers.
I’m glad to see that we stick together in this, stay home and try to keep the humour alive, no matter how difficult times we are experiencing.
The Hague, The Netherlands
Intelligent lock down
The streets in The Hague are quiet, apart from chirp of the birds, which seems louder than before. It is the quiet of a Sunday morning, before the cafés open and you can enjoy a coffee outside. But they won’t open, at least not for four more weeks.
On weekdays you’d normally hear the sound of bicycle bells and scooters, and near the deer park civil servants will eat their sandwiches in the first rays of sun. But we are inside, advised only to go out for the essential shop or a breath of fresh air. Schools are closed and most people work from home, balancing their own job with home schooling.
Life seems on hold. There will be no spring fairs this year, no King’s Day celebrations. Even the final exams have been cancelled. The new normal is videoconferencing, and drinks with the neighbours from the safe distance of your own balcony.
The prime minister calls it ,,an intelligent lock down”. We are not forbidden to leave the house, but we do need to keep 1,5 metres distance and be with no more than two (unless you are a family). The fine is 400 euros. It is enough to keep most of us in check. Four more weeks. At least.
Wellington, New Zealand
Our country how has a lockdown, sometimes called a rāhui here (protection order). So the family is all at home. We split our day between pretending to be teachers, and working on-line – lots of zoom meetings. Our school’s on-line teaching isn’t sophisticated– three apps.
In some ways life is simpler: baking bread (maths and science!), building giant marble runs through our sloping gardens and listening to audiobooks. Granny skypes every morning to read a story. But life is also more complicated - how to have a difficult conversation with a colleague? How to focus when everything has changed? Will we have jobs in a year?
We go out for a daily walk to the beach. We are lucky, our suburb is not very populated. Now the streets are quiet for scootering, and we can hear the native birdsong. We often stop to sing happy birthday over a neighbour’s fence – for a child. Birthdays must still be special!
But we know it is a privilege to have a safe, warm home with a friendly family. We know that democracy is at its heart about caring for vulnerable people, and this is what we are doing now – this is our main job.
I work as usual , to help people find a car, and that is a really good job. I also study online, to become a social and health assistent. I take my bicycle to the grocery store, and I meet one of my friends at the time, but not as often as ”normal”.
I live with a good friend, I am never alone, if I do not want to be alone. I am happy to live in Denmark, and I have sent this mail to people in Sweden. I do not think that Covid has changed my life in very many ways. I miss going to the library, but I have friends that lend me books, so I will survive. I feel that the Danish government has everything under control, I do not have to worry about anything. I am calm, happy and looking forward to meeting friends at bars, where you can smoke:)
I caretake my nearly 89 year-old-father. Biggest impact on his activity is the lack of live sports on TV. As an executive coach with focus on corporate-sponsored career transition programs, work has rarely been busier. Receiving increased referrals for folks who have just been released from their employers. At the same time, people are being hired quickly, the process is accomplished virtually (interview, onboarding, then work-from-home). My brother is nicely recovering at home from a mild case of rona. ’Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ is Sanskrit for ’the world is my family’... feeling slow hope that humanity will make it and come out the other end more compassionate, more sensitive and with strong new priorities benefitting us all. Wishing everyone ’enough’... enough of what you need to manage through. As Monty Python says: Always look on the bright side of life... xo
Corris, Wales, UK
I had been remote camping for weeks and arrived in Adelaide to discover Australia was under lock down. I had to decide whether to be in Australia or the UK. In Australia I was homeless. Staying with friends was not an option. I had to go to where my home is - to where I have been living since 2004. I flew to Sydney for a flight to Birmingham. At Sydney, I was told I couldn’t leave as I was an Australian citizen and the border had closed at midday. But they allowed me to leave. The plane was fill of broken dreams – lost jobs, holidays and family events cancelled too soon, others like me not knowing where they should be, which country. Visits to the toilets were full of women obsessively washing hands and dispensers with no soap. In queues, everyone gave each other more personal space than we could ever desire. Cafes and bars were closed. The train to Wales was empty. I am now in isolation writing my PhD thesis, with friends leaving food outside my door. My partner is still in Australia working as a doctor. I don’t know when we will see each other again.
I’m a musician as well as an assistant for a woman with autism and epilepsy. Me and my colleagues are very worried about our patients getting sick, not certain they’d make it. My partner, a musician as well, lost all his jobs for now, we’ll see what happens this summer. It’s all very uncertain. I avoid people as much as I can, worrying about my parents getting sick. So far, Sweden is all right. I listen to the authorities and follow the instructions, and at the same time, try to enjoy springtime and all the joy it brings. I spend a lot of time outdoors, just me and my son, trying to think about something else than the virus, cause it’s all around you. In your thoughts, in your dreams at night. Hopefully we’ll get a little bit smarter and humble after this.
San Francisco, USA
First, Thank you so much for doing this. It is an important reminder that there are vastly different stories world-wide, and even among close neighbors. I am one of the lucky ones who has a comfortable home, good local government leadership, plenty of options to organize food and supplies. My daily walks include visits to the Golden Gate Bridge nearby, which has become my sentinel in all sorts of weather. I have enjoyed the newfound quiet that sheltering in place brings. The birds are chirping, frogs are croaking, spring buds are bursting into bloom, which are made all the more special as markers of life renewing itself in these difficult times. I also enjoy watching people create their own choreography as they navigate around one another trying to leave two meters of distance between them :)
I am 70 years old and my husband is 74, so we have been instructed to stay home more than others who are younger. I fought this emotionally for awhile, but have now made the adjustment for the most part. We volunteer by sending in small donations to a variety of causes via the internet.
Since I have never enjoyed crowds, staying away has been a joy rather than a bother, but I do miss travel. Our daughters and their families live in NYC and Los Angeles respectively, where I frequently visited. My son-in-law is an ENT doctor in Los Angeles who is currently on the front lines of this pandemic. We have become good at ZOOM video-calls with all of us present, but, as you know, the internet will never replace warm hugs. I also miss being able to travel abroad. I worry we will all become more myopic about our own countries, and I miss the personal exchange that only immersion into different cultures bring.
A lesson in humility
My name is Doris Kraus, I am 59 years old, a journalist and not prone to pessimism. But living in Vienna (Austria) these days, I have the sense of a paradigm shift. Not so much because of empty streets, working from home and cooking all day for bored and hungry teenagers.
Rather, there is a loss of the invincibility which the developed world has been taking for granted. The pest is history, pandemics are for poor countries, we - eventually at least - have answers for every crisis and if we don’t, it probably isn’t that important for our lives after all.
Today, however, people are suffering and dying in shocking numbers from an illness about which our omnipotent science seems to be able to determine surprisingly little; Austria’s unemployment figures have rocketed to the highest level since 1946; the economy is crumbling; children suddenly depend on how many computers there are in their household to keep up with their class-mates; digital Big Brother currently is a godsend, but at the same time seizing the opportunity for yet a bit more control over his analog subjects.
But as I said, pessimism’s not for me. This lesson in humility has set free the good in so many people. We seem never to have been closer than in times of social distancing. People are helpful, friendly and kind. Just like the current crisis, this may - or rather will - not last. But a whiff will stay behind. A reminder that we may be lesser mortals but at the same time can be better people. That thought gives me courage.
Luisa Gonzalez Boa
I travelled across the world to be with my loved one. I was an intern at the Danish Embassy in Buenos Aires, but when the crisis started and countries began to close borders, Argentina first restricted the entrance of Chinese citizens. The plan was for my partner, whose citizenship is Hong Kong, to move to Buenos Aires with me. However, we called the foreign ministry in Argentina, and none of the five people we talked to could tell us if “Hong Kong” was considered as “China” or not for immigration purposes. It was then that we decided to change his flight ticket into one with my name in the reverse direction, and 48 hours later I had my life upside down: an internship temporarily suspended and everything packed in two suitcases, and a very restless waiting time at the airport, incessantly checking whether Thailand was closing borders. I made it into the country two days before they restricted entrance to all foreigners. Now we are sitting in our old apartment in Bangkok, drinking wine and reading, contemplating a future full of uncertainties, but despite the anxiety I feel about the unknown and the sleepless nights, we are healthy and together.
I’m still fine. Working from home, like everyone in my daily newspaper. No social contact, no traveling around, no heavy suitcases, I finally sleep in my bed, I started cooking. Sounds like a quiet vacation.
For now, Serbian medical experts and our government still keeping things under control, but Serbs are like Serbs: disobedient, sociable, they like to walk, talk, hug and kiss each other, even in this dangerous situation. That’s why we have a curfew from 5 p.m. to 5 a.m., with hints of an additional increase in the coming days.
Does the situation with COVID 19 concern me? Yes, there are too many dead all around the globe. How do I handle the situation? It will sound paradoxical, but I’m used to. In the last 3 decades, we in Serbia have had war, economic sanctions, NATO bombing, severe economic crisis, major floods and now we have “just one more thing” – a terrible epidemic. It’s really too much unwanted experience for one life. But, what to do.
I just hope that we will all pass this difficult test alive and that we will all be smarter after all. We are fiercely warned. It’s time for our changes.
Hi I’m Emily, I work in the retail industry in a clothing/shoe store and in homewares store, whilst I complete a bachelor of primary education at university. I live in the blue mountains in Sydney, Australia.
I have been stood down from both my jobs because of covid19, and I am a casual which means I do not get paid during this time. As a result I now have no source of income and struggling financially.
My university has moved my classes online, and now every Monday I sit down in front of a screen for four hours and participate in online learning.
I haven’t left the house to socialise, to work, to do most everyday activities in two weeks and it’s hard.
It’s hard waking up each morning knowing you will be confined at home doing university work or nothing. Whilst I know I’m keeping myself safe and others who may be vulnerable, my mental health and others who are in the same position as me is degrading and suffering.
Although we are flattening the curve and there will be light at the end of this, it’s still difficult trying to get to the end of it.
It is good to have the routine and important to keep to it. This will be a long haul and the damage could be immense. I discovered a large volume of short stories by William Trevor. I am starting with the shorter ones and enjoying his writing. Very observant and with a simple style that suits the subject matter.
I have started ringing around, particularly the elderly - trying to sound cheerful. I can hear the darkness from some of the people I speak to. Already 2 weeks into isolation and for the over 70’s in particular the fear of where it may end. Really tough for some people particularly those on their own.
I heard a piece by a former captain of a RN submarine and his top advise was to establish a routine, cleanliness, defuse any ‘situations’ that may be developing, take time out for relaxation and communicate with others. Wise words. He also pointed out that on a submarine you can be in isolation for months....
We have fresh food and fresh air .... it can always be worse.
I miss my commute to work the most. Normally I bike into the office, now I walk from my bed to a desk that I set up in my kitchen. Going for walks has become really important. Overall though, I didn’t lose my job, I have a spacious home, my job is easy to do online, and I am in good health, so I am not personally feeling the weight of this as much as I know others are. I have been obsessively reading the news, and that is my connection to the tragedy of it all. I have also been obsessively watching the Bon Appetit YouTube channel, and that has inspired some new favorite recipes. At first I felt nervous about groceries running out, but I have pretty much conquered that anxiety by signing up to have local produce delivered every week. My partner is a firefighter, so he is also going to work as usual. I assume I will get it, and every now and then I spiral into panic that I will be the 1% in the 20-40 demographic that dies, even though I know I am in good health. Mostly I feel restless.
Co-vid 19 has forced David’s movie he was working on to shut down. All films large, small and independent ground to a halt within a week. Films crews are normally 150-250 minimum on a set, how will this affect us if we are told to social distance in the future ? It’s worrying.
David and I do not qualify for any government grant as we are both Limited Companies so no financial support for loss of wages at this time. Our Cotswold holiday home, our 2nd business, bookings / income for March, April, May 2020 cancelled, some rearranged for 2021. We have no idea when our bookings will be allowed again and our business to resume. We have been granted small business rate relief and we have taken mortgage holidays on both our houses.
My fiancé and I cannot forward plan a wedding we had hoped for 2020. We both stay home, walk our dog once a day, watch Netflix, cook and use our Peloton bike to keep us fit. We never thought we would live through something like this, it’s like being characters in our own movie.
Vibeke Zacho Bektas
There are things that really make us react, and other things that we tend too easily put aside.
When there is an immidiate risk for our body, we react, we listen, we abide. Like now when the covid19 virus is threatening everyone’s body.
But for many years there has been, and still is, another much vaster threat. This threat is approaching more and more, due to our continuous selfishness and continuous belief that we can act in whatever way we like towards nature, towards our Mother Earth.
I sometimes think that the Covid-19 is just a foresign to the really devastating threat, when nature and Mother Earth is not helpfull to us anymore, when we have exploited her over her capacity, to the point of destruction.
As for now we have already arrived at the point of no return. No matter our way of acting in the name of the lives of our children, no matter how much we regret our exploitation. I feel a sorrow in my heart for that.
But life must go on, and I just hope that more and more people continuously will be kinder and more loving.
Criccieth, Wales, UK
As a young teacher I was inspired by the Psychologist Maslow. He devised a theory comprising a hierarchy of inter-related human needs:
COVID19 has taken me on a downward journey through Maslow’s hierarchy.
A few weeks ago I existed almost entirely in a transcendental form. My family, although scattered, were secure.
COVID19 arrived in my sub-conscience. During a news programme, I became vaguely aware of something happening far away. It was followed by the weather report, then the call to supper.
COVID19 grew in its scale and intensity and its ability to transcend borders. My alertness increased, along with a growing feeling of alarm.
3) Social Belonging
LOCKDOWN began with vague ministerial statements. Experts appeared, next, full lockdown. Friendships, intimacy and family disappeared. Behaviour changed. The need of love now denied. My scattered family and friends may as well be on the Moon.
COVID19 is a monster. The safety of our village evaporates as the disease draws closer.
My daughter recognised the need to protect herself and family from infection. Her partner was well but he succumbed to CV19. She is caring for him and schooling three kids at home, and all of them confronting CV19 in their house.
1) Physiological Needs
My hierarchical descent is complete. I am isolated from everyone. Now I focus on food and supplies. Supermarket home deliveries are booked for months ahead and we are forced to go ‘out there’ to forage.
If the INTERNET fails, our demise is almost complete.
Brussels, your sky has never been so blue and your streets never so quiet.
Bruxelles ma belle. The city that never sleeps.
You are now covered in sorrow and loss. For the first time, we can hear ourselves think and breathe.
Your soul is quiet. The ever so busy road, the most congested in Europe, are empty. We almost miss the horning and the engine noise.
Brussels, you have birds. Birds that sing for the first time ever. Or have they always been there, without us noticing. Busy running from one meeting to the next?
20 pm. We all meet in our windows to clap and wave. People, who you have lived next to for a decade, but never offered more than half a smile and a silent “bonjour”, are now your only daily contacts.
Belgium. A country that has suffered so many losses.
United we stand together. When will we be able to see our loved ones again?
So alone. Denmark and our dearest friends and family 1000 kilometres away. Miles and miles of empty space in between us. The telephone can’t take the place of the smiles. But one day.
One day soon, Brussels will again be full of life and sound and light. But these days are so dark and so silent, that we hear the birds and see the stars above us. One day everything will be back to normal. And it will be like it was before, and we will hug our loved ones. Or will we? The questions are open, while the world is closed.
Per Frank Povlsen
When Corona started we stayed in our Old farm in Småland, Sweden. The Danish Prime minister closed Denmark. We could travel home, but decided to stay in Sweden.
The closest neighbor is 200 m away. Very safe!
From Denmark we are strongly urged to travel home, but we stay. We feel a little like not following the “law”, but common sense makes us stay.
Daily life is more or less like as always. But it’s not when listening to all the news on radio/TV. Denmark is ruled very strictly. Sweden is more advising its people to take care.
It works over here. We feel safe:)
The story is; we have sold the old farm. In a month the new owners will take over – if they can enter Sweden. We are busy cleaning up and deciding which things are staying and which we are bringing home to Denmark.
The plan was that our children were going to come over here at Easter and pick the things they wanted. That is not going to happen :(. If they come, and that is impossible, they will have to spend 14 days in quarantine when they return to Denmark:(
When Coronavirus came to the USA, it made landfall in my neighborhood. I work on an ambulance, and for weeks I walked the halls of homes and hospitals without understanding how easily this virus spreads. By the time we realized how dangerous this was, it was too late. Bodies were piling up and our masks were already in short supply. I tried my hardest to diligently conserve my supplies. Then I became sick.
I was put into quarantine at home for 14 days and monitored. In that time my health improved, but my shifts at work haven’t gone back to normal. With people staying in and staying away from hospitals at all costs, demand for EMS workers has actually decreased. I now spend my days walking my dogs and trying to dodge runners and other citizens. They come so close; they stand near me in the supermarket. Yesterday a man poked my shoulder to ask a question. I don’t think he would do that if he knew I work on an ambulance, or if he knew I’d recently been sick. I wear a mask, but I wish I could wear a sign.
Derry, Northern Ireland
F. Stuart Ross
International crisis/international family …
I’m an American, married to a Spaniard and living in Northern Ireland. While the seriousness of the coronavirus hit here just before what were to be the local St. Patricks Day festivities, we already had an eye on Spain where many friends and family live. The government in the Republic of Ireland was quick to move on the issue and many in the North wanted the either the British government or the regional assembly to follow suit.
And while we are glued to Spanish news (and my wife is in constant contact with people there), I now find myself checking in with friends and family in the United States far more often than I usually would … initially I simply warned people of the severity if it all but the United States has quickly surpassed any other country in terms of its active cases (which makes me worry because there is no universal health care.
I also worry because I have asthma … my wife worries every time she does the shopping … my boys (who are 9 and 11) know a bit about this but don’t understand it. Their 4-year-old sister has no clue. But we’re all in the same boat.
My father was Danish but I’m from Pescara (Italy). I’ve run a thrift shop for 27 years and now, because of the Covid-19 emergency, it’s closed, while my family and I are at home since March 8th. Italy is one of the most damaged Countries and the situation is dramatic: except for supermarkets and pharmacies, every kind of activity is currently closed, there are a lot of deaths every day and the number of the infected ones grows day by day. In the hospitals and all the medical centers, there aren’t enough beds, equipment and drugs for sick people; moreover, there is the possibility to admit few patients to the intensive care unit, so lots of sick people are obliged to stay at home. The economy is seriously damaged and it’s going to be very difficult go through this terrible situation. I’m a cheerful man and I try, as I can, to think positive by sharing my smile through social networks; but the truth is that I don’t know how long the quarantine will last and if I’ll be able to go through this moment, since my shop is closed and I have got no profits.
In The Netherlands we are experiencing since medio March an ‘intelligent lockdown’, meaning that schools shut down, most people work from house, restaurants and bars are closed, so is the gym and gatherings with more than three people on the streets are banned.
As a single mum, a journalist, this has a huge impact on my daily existence. It is tough to make my deadlines ánd coach my children through their digital lessons. We decided as a family that for now they stay during weekdays at their father’s house. He had to close his hotel, so has the time. I’m worried about my job since my travelreportages won’t be published in the near future. My readers are going nowhere soon and the advertisers ran away. I try to tell myself I’m so lucky: none of my loved ones is ill and financially this crisis has not hit me. Yet. But only now I realise how much of my personal life takes place outdoors. My world got so small: I miss my friends who don’t live nearby deeply. My datinglife is non-existing. In these bizar times sometimes funny things occur. My daughter (16) just texted me: shall we do a 1000 pieces puzzle this weekend? Gezellig! Even though Sunday will be the first day this year the mercury is rising above 20 degrees.
In July 2019 I turned 70 and I started living as a senior citizen.
In August I moved most of my earthly belongings to Copenhagen. I started a new life with an old school mate, and we are now sharing his smaller apartment in Vanloese and a summerhouse in Asserbo.
I spent 32 years in the south of Jutland, where I built network: friends and colleagues, different jobs and a successful life as a freelancer: jazz musician, conductor, composer, writer and teacher.
I moved back because my two daughters, two grandchildren, my two siblings and their families are living here, as well as good old friends from the first half part of my life. And the last love of my life.
I was looking forward to spend time especially with my grandchildren age 2 and 11. I looked forward to revive my partnership with my favorite pianist, enjoy coffee-meetings, dinners and especially the weekly swim with my sister, the chitchats afterwards and planning upcoming project in our family-cabin in Sweden.
I can’t complain quarantining the last three weeks gardening in the nature that surrounds me. But I certainly miss all that, what made me make the move. Little do we know about our future.
We are not supposed to go to stores. We can’t visit friends or family. It is going to be a month or two before we can, maybe, feel it is safe to mix with the public. But right now, how do we choose who is going to make the emergency trips to get the items we feel are our true necessities? My daughter says, ’Dad, stay home. I’ll get them.’ I understand, my wife and I are old. But, my daughter has had several surgeries relating to cancer and organs that were malfunctioning. I feel we are a lesser risk. At 76 and 77 years of age, we have lived our lives while she still has one child at home. Who is right?
Being confined is a challenge. My wife, who has Pick’s disease, asks me for some cookies. I tell her we are out of cookies. She will tell me, ’Oh, okay.’ I go to the pantry and get her a couple of cookies. I give them to her. Her face lights up. I love watching her being happy. She won’t remember that I told her we didn’t have the cookies. The future? We’ll see.
Early autumn is normally the best time of the year to be in Melbourne with warm days, cool nights and lots of activities to keep visitors and locals entertained. The corona virus has changed this and an uneasy calm has settled over the city. The streets are eerily quiet, restaurants, cafes and most of the retail businesses are closed with people only venturing out for the essentials of food, medicines and exercise. As seniors we miss the regular physical contact of family, especially our 11 month old grand-daughter, friends and the opportunity to enjoy regular musical concerts. Due to the Government ban on overseas travel we have had to abandon our planned trip to the UK and the Faroe Islands in May and June. These changes to our daily lives are trivial when compared with those of the millions of people who have lost their employment and loved ones. We have been disheartened by the behaviour of some people who have stripped many shelves in our supermarkets bare and selfishly ignored our Government’s rule to ‘stay at home’. We remain confident, however, that medical science will provide a vaccine to the virus soon.
I am a teacher of English and Religion in a Danish high school. My identity is still very much being a teacher even though the world is different and smaller now. I can reach out to my students virtually and relate to them. I love that SoMe and online platforms make it possible for me to teach and interact with my students. I would feel so lonely without that contact. I love my job, but it also takes its toll on me relating and interacting with so many people on a daily basis. But sitting behind the screen protects me from spending all my energy at work. My Corona surplus energy is spent on cooking and baking, which I never have the same energy for in my everyday life. I often go out to cultural events and soak up inspiration and cultural energy through that, but now my attention is turned inwards instead. Feeding my family is showing them love! We need to take care of each other and show our love in new ways. Having online meetings with friends and colleagues is meaningful and fulfilling all of a sudden. Send some love to those who are alone….
When we go outside with masks, people still stare. Their own, bare faces give no clue as to their status, but they react with fear at the sight of the blue covering.
There is no community testing in London. Tests are for celebrities, who call the newspapers to publicise the results, or politicians. The people on the street don’t know their own sta