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.
Renato Sandoval Baciagalupo
Peru, 9th of April – by T.S. Eliot judged the cruellest month – after 25 days of being locked in between 6 p.m. and 5 a.m., with 5,500 infected and 138 deceased due to the treacherous corona virus.
Thirty three million Peruvians, a cabbalistic number threatening to diminish progressively and exponentially as they are more and more seized by disorder and fear.
The crisis is worsened by the fact that here (as in many materially undeveloped countries) 30 per cent do not have access to neither water nor drainage, and therefore cannot even wash their hands in order to reduce the immense risks which are attacking their lives or, simply, their survival.
Furthermore, the health care system is miserable, already was for a long time, and it gets worse with the pandemic.
Now many people die because of lack of hospitals, restrictions on the number of emergency admissions – and in case of admission, the few available ventilators (around 300) very soon will not be sufficient for the thousands of infected who will begin to strain the capacity.
Now seeing people die in the streets for this reason and that no one dares go near them to help is truly disheartening.
I fear that soon the same thing will happen here as in the city of Guayaquil in Ecuador, not far away, where the dead, not being picked up by authorities, are being cremated in the streets.
This is no doubt a burden on the entire world without exception.
It is no longer so much because of the coexistence of different stages of development but rather because of the lack of empathy in the relation between human beings and nature, and in their relation with the environment, and, in a wider sense, with ‘the others’ who belong to the same species.
It is a hard thing to realize that the imbalance at all levels partly explains what at this moment is questioning life itself; to put it more precisely, the kind of life, which is so infinitely individualistic, and not at all solidary that we are leading.
But for the time being, if one does not want to be the next victim, one should stay at home, lean out the window from time to time, in the hope that there are no dead people on the pavement, or that you yourself, not knowing how, will stay alive in the midst of all the disgrace and sorrow.
Todos Santos, Mexico
My little multicultural paradise by the Pacific Ocean, known as Todos Santos (all saints), with only 7,000 residents has been shut down. You can only enter if you are resident, and out of the many small restaurants, there is now a handful that offers delivery or take-away. Most people here come from all over the world. They have filled up their pantries and their freezers while waiting for good news. If nothing else, the sun is shining, and the view of the Pacific inspires some comfort while we wait.
An hour’s drive away in the area known as Los Cabos, which covers Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, the authorities have gone the whole way, closing all hotels and shop except for supermarkets. It is known as an international holiday paradise visited by six million tourists every year, including the countless cruise ships that call at the bay. Yesterday the 300,000 residents were told they can only drive to work and to hospitals if it is strictly necessary. Violations will lead to fines.
50,000 people in Los Cabos earn a living from tourism. And since there is no help from the public sector, the situation is dire. We hope that these drastic measures will have an appreciable effect and end the crisis before long.
They now estimate that 26,000 people are infected in Mexico, yet many cannot be tested because of the bureaucratic and cumbersome public sector. Even though the heat appears to be keeping down the rate of infection, we fear that the number is much higher.
I am one of the lucky ones, as I am self-employed, and only one of my trips ended up being cancelled since the travel season ended in March. But a wedding event has been postponed and two trips to the US in July will most likely also be cancelled or postponed. In a country like Mexico where many live from hand to mouth and now face serious problems to feed their families, I am very, very lucky.
Corona rabbit in Chile
»Mom, does the corona virus come with tear gas?«; the seven-year-old asked when the school was closed down. His everyday life has already changed radically since unrest broke out in October. When the first reports about torture and killings trickled in, we went to our summer house. Away from the tear gas. Now we’’re here again. Privileged in country where the protests are driven by social inequality and where the support for the government is at six percent. Whose advice do you follow when everyone knows that the Minister of Health is liar who says: »Chile has the best health care system in the world.«?
We have a slight bit of the late summer left. We pretend as if we are in a European middle-class quarantine and joke on WhatsApp with other parents about the homeschooling assignments. I politely decline the offer of online mindfulness class for our two-year-old from our daycare institution. We hear on the news that the metro in Santiago once again was jam-packed during rush hour. People cannot afford to stay home. There is a buzz of uncertainty on social media. I teach my anthropology students remotely while the boy badgers me about a rabbit. Can you buy a dwarf rabbit online and have it delivered? The answer is yes.
»It’s soooo cute,« the child says in a falsetto as it now runs around in the living room. We’re having a good time. It is the quiet before ‘he perfect storm’.
I am 54 years old and I am a partner in a headhunting company, a mother of two sons aged 25 and 26 and a grandmother of a little girl, all but 14 months old.
My brother lives in Botswana where he works as a professor at a university. The first thing that happened in my corona lockdown life was my brother’s cancellation of his Easter visit to Denmark as a result of Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen closing the borders on March 11. My brother recently updated me about covid-19 cases in Botswana: Three infected, one dead – which he said translates to a mortality rate of 33 percent. Gallows humour may occur these days.
My granddaughter had just been accepted to a day-care centre in mid-March. Then she was sent home to her pregnant mother and her father who had large screens set up at the dinner table to work from home with headphones and a computer – to the great amusement of their daughter who immediately put the headphones on her head, thrilled that daddy will be working from home.
The week before last, my daughter-in-law developed a persistent cough, fever and chest pains and the little one also had a fever. A call to the doctor revealed that they most likely had been infected with covid-19. She was told to call the emergency services if her condition worsened. Later she had to contact the doctor again who believed she suffered from pneumonia and prescribed penicillin. I had trouble sleeping for a week. I was worried about the side-effects. But everything turned out okay and there were no risks involved for the unborn baby. That helped me relax a bit.
As far as work goes, we are all set up. We have telephone conferences and contact companies to learn more about their status. My first call was to a major supplier whose turnover dropped 33 per cent because the United States stopped the air traffic to and from the EU. I proposed finding new possible sales channels. We are all in the same boat. After the lockdown, we all have to start from ground zero. New markets, customers, business partners, sales channels, contacts. Most importantly: I’ve primarily been living off take-away for a month now to support restaurants in my local area in Valby. My favourite is South Indian.
March 12 is usually a very special day on the Faroe Islands. A day where we celebrate spring. Even though we usually have rough weather on this day, March 12 is also the day where we meet for events hosted by scouts, brass band music and familiar musings about the arrival of Spring, symbolized by the return of our national bird, tjaldur, also known as the oyster caster. And it DOES return. Tjaldur cannot be bothered to spend the winter together with the rest of us in hurricane weather. It chooses to spend its winters under brighter skies in Northern Africa. Quite understandably!
This year March 12 became the day when the Faroe Islands shut down. Completely. I happened to be in the eye of the storm on that day, being both the editor and host of our television news. The first days were hectic and went by fast. We focused on informing the people, finding new angles and carrying out special broadcasts. But during these late evenings when I was walking under the quiet – very quiet – and clear night sky on my way home, I was struck by a wall every time. A wall of melancholy. A wall that spelled out that this is really happening – and we are all affected by it!
It has been three – or was it four? – weeks now. During my shifts at home – since we cannot work all work together at the same time – I have tried to be there for my family. Tried not to lose my mind. Tried to avoid that the children lose their minds. Tried to clean up, wash down and do practical things. But everything is in slow motion. As in very slow. The home office has become an essential part of life and everything has been cleared off, sorted and made comfortable.
Longing … Longing and a feeling of cooped up. That is what most of us are feeling now after four weeks of this. As I write this, I am alone in my now tidy home office while thinking that I was supposed to be in Copenhagen drinking gin and tonics together with one of my best friends. Someone who has meant a lot to me. I can picture his smile and hear us laugh in my thoughts. Instead, I have been drinking a glass of wine with their neighbour using a conference system. Not so bad!
Just like tjaldur comes back on March 12 every year, allowing us to celebrate the spring, life will come back as well. We will be missing people and longing to go out for quite some time. But hopefully, we will learn to appreciate the things we normally take for granted. I appreciate the solidarity! I hope you are as well!
Henrik Obbekaer Rasmussen
Epidemic in Paris
Until the very last moment before the French shutdown at 12 o’clock Tuesday March 17, there were families on the sidewalks, loading their cars and cramming children inside while others were on their way out with friends and backpacks. It made me think of the stories about the exodus ahead of the Germans’ arrival in 1940. My children’s great-grandmother biked with her three-year-old child on the back of the bike from Paris all the way down to Fourg near the Swiss border.
Even so, we have practically been enjoying ourselves for the past three weeks – aside from developing a dry cough. The children are out of school and everyone can sleep in. The Parisians have been on their best behaviour: polite and friendly. Doctors and nurses are have almost become heroes. But the atmosphere was tense until a few days ago. Sirens from ambulances and church bells from morning to evening. The hospitals in Ile-de-France and Eastern France were so overburdened that patients had to be transported in specially converted TGV trains to other regions. You can feel that a change is happening. But what comes next? The French were discontented before the corona virus, hence the Yellow Vests movement and the constant strikes. Will the voters opt for stability or will they be seduced by radical solutions? This has been the key question in French politics since the revolution in 1789.
It was almost as if the virus came from Denmark, not China. Don’t get me wrong, but Denmark closed its borders, and then Norway followed suit. The days are long and chaotic. With home-schooling and a full-time job. But we must not complain. After all, we live in the world’s wealthiest country and are the second-happiest nation. We know that the state has plenty of money and that we are better off than most. But when the streets are empty, friends behind a screen, and grandparents have to wave from afar, it almost feels like living in some dystopian future. I think the uncertainty is the worst part. How long can we continue like this? And then what will happen? Will there be a financial crisis for many years to come, and what will that mean for me, for my town, for my country?
When I try hard, I can see the positive sides to a slower pace. The joy of being able to be at home with my family. But I also long for life. The life we live now is a waiting life. Everything is put on hold and we have nothing to look forward to. Even our national holiday, May 17, has been cancelled. Well, not the date, but the annual celebration. The only day where we shout: »Hurra!« I would so hope that everything could go back to normal by then and our children could walk in the parade and shout together.
Sara Maritta Brasse
Here in Nuuk, the capital of Greenland, we are lucky to have only a few cases of corona virus. The cases in Greenland are all in Nuuk, and the city is now quarantined. I have been in home quarantine for 17 days now with my two daughters aged ten and four. I have never spent so much time with my children as I do now. I see the details of their personalities, the freckles on their noses, how they have grown. I truly see them. We are TOGETHER even though we are at work, in school, and in kindergarten. It is great!
Life and the planet are so fragile and many people only realize now just how fragile everything is. The corona crisis affects people in many different ways. It is tragic, but it also means that we have to slow down and reflect on the human condition, on what gives our life and our daily existence meaning. And the climate. It is doing better than it has for many years. I think it is inspiring and thought-provoking how a crisis such as this affects us as humans, the world, and our society. In fact, we can change the world for the better if we keep sticking together and helping each other as we do now.
When I look out my window, the world seems unchanged. The trees are just starting to blossom. It is springtime. There is a plum tree outside my window. I can tell from the trunk that it is sick, but not dead yet. It still bears fruit every year. Plums that are inedible because they are invaded by leaf rollers. Tiny black pests that dig into the flesh and procreate.
Outside my window, the tree is gathering strength for another season of hosting parasites. From inside, I am looking at the tree. Thinking about the world. About the forests that burn and the oceans that are filled with plastic. I am thinking about humankind.
Humankind that is now threatened by a virus. Suddenly, we do not just talk. We are actually able to act. People are working very hard to get this virus under control. But what will the rescue of humankind be worth if the host, i.e. the planet, is sick? The planet must always come first. It is essential to our lives.
We have been like greedy parasites for too long. Mother Earth is tired. This year she is taking a well-deserved break. I hope that when we resume our normal lives, we won’t just continue where we left off.
Life. Paused. Go faster; harder; calmer; more careful; Tele-Projection. I am an epidemiologist by training, and filmmaker by choice. The past year I have helped to run a yoga studio for multi-level and varied bodies. The studio, as is, is dead; it’s future “may” be online. I, like most of the west, did not pay close enough attention in January, and was on a working vacation in February. When I saw the early growing numbers in my region, thinking about what China had to do, I knew it was too late and that all would shut and life would be permanently altered. This is due to the widespread nature of the disease and the need to develop new measures, and basically protocols for ‘everyday life’. Life as we knew it was over, or at least in a damaging coma, maybe it would or should die.
Regardless of whether people awoke or accepted it, the decision has already been made. I am sad for the world, and so many people I know in many countries. So much pain. I am trying to reconnect and share as much care and love as I can. I am personally invigorated because I feel I am in a position to help and do good in this crisis and the world to come.
Mexico City, Mexico
Before Covid19 disrupted us, each morning I used to hurry going for a nice one hour walk through some tree lined streets and parks near home. But then the bad news started to grow very present on local stories and that made me wonder if the stroll was still a good idea anymore or rather get careful about contagion.
A few days later, Mexico’s government anounced stage 2 scenario, with local transmission and lockdown started. Now days begin one hour later, with the only hurry to prepare the morning coffee and some fruit plate.
As I live by myself these days, all the chat and videoconferencing tools have become central to stay in touch with my twentysomething daughters that live with their mother, and to socialize for work or else.
I’ve become a frequent user of e-commerce and delivery services cause I’ve found the time to get better at my mexican cooking, a long time delayed yearning and a great way to mitigate some of the anxiety about the present and the future… Getting better at something! With some e-learning on work subjects too…
Much strength for those in need. Here I hope the virus don’t hit us hard or stays for long… as the dishes are getting better I want to share them with my people, my pants have to keep fitting me and I really miss my walks!
By the beginning of March my country was dealing with active cases of corona rising up. A trial lockdown was run throughout the country on 22nd, and a lockdown was imposed from 24th.
I live in a small 2 room flat in Kolkata along with my brother and two ailing grandmothers, both in their late eighties. As a freelance photographer I do a considerable part of my work from home. It gives me the freedom to live my life. I cook my own meals and, on some days, depend upon home delivery meals. The troubling part of the lockdown is to get medicine for my grandmothers. Both of them are in critical health condition and need medicine regularly. Also, I now have to be more careful while taking care of them. I have to go out on certain days for essentials and my biggest worry is that I might infect my grandmothers. As the economy is slumping, I fear that it will take a toll on my finances and savings. I have to generate my own work and, dread that it might be difficult to find work after this situation and my savings will soon run off.
When I wake up in the morning I’m not doing what I used to do before. I am confined with my cat at home, keeping myself busy with books and movies while waiting for the number of my first online documentary viewers to increase. In the meantime, I hear some unpleasant news about my country which is even worse off with Covid_19.
We have had hard days and years before Pandemic: Sanctions, protests against the government over the sudden increase of gas price, suppression of the protesters, internet ban for a week, assassination of Qasem Suleimani (Major general of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps), tensions between Iran-U.S. and the most horrible one, downing of a passengers plane owing to a mistake by our military forces.
Covid_19 silenced those events to an incredible extent. We are locked in our houses without any precise statistics on what is going on in hospitals. But I see my people do their best to cope with the situation in order to pass through this period.
Now my days are passed waiting in silence and I cannot imagine what’s next.
To me, Covid_19 has killed Kronos, the God of time. No prediction for when this quarantine will finish.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
My name is Emilia Pena, I’m 20 years old and I live in La Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina. The first case of COVID-19 was detected the 3rd of march. Since the 20th of march (when we had 200 confirmed positive cases and 3 deaths), we were put into obligatory quarantine. That means that we are only allowed to exit our houses to go to the nearest supermarket, the pharmacy or the bank. At home my father continues working from his computer. My brother has classes every day with his teachers through videocall, and he has to send his assignments to them. I do also have classes in university through video conferences. I’m very glad that my university sends us a lot of material so that we can continue studying and learning. The teachers are free to answer our questions through email or video call. For now the quarantine is obligatory and is to be continued until the 23rd of april (even though it ill probably be extended), and the truth is that I really miss my friends and family. I appreciate that I have a house where I can stay and take care of myself and my family, and that I have technological devices to be able to continue studying.
Everyone reading this: Stay strong so we can get back to normal life as soon as possible.
City Bell, Argentina
My name is Julieta Bolino I’m 20 years old and I´m from Argentina. I live in City Bell, a small city near Buenos Aires, Argentina. I study Bachelor of Sociology in the National University of La Plata. Classes and modalities have been modified, now we are connected by internet, clases are virtual (by Zoom). The profesors send us material to study and they organize meetings where all the students have to be conected at the same time.
I also work from my home, luckly I have so many things to do!. I work in the area of human resurces in a software factory. But I´m priviliged to be able to work because here in Argentina not everybody can go out and work as almost evertyhing is closed (except supermarkets & pharmacies). The situation in Argentina is diferent, many jobs here are informal and there are people who live of what they earn on the day. These kinds of situations seriously affect the economy.
Every second week the president speaks and extends the quarentine, luckly we don´t have so many deaths and infected people yet. I hope we can stay like this, numerous sanitary measures have been taking during these days but I am also aware that we are an underdeveloped country and we do not have a big budget.
I live in a really fantastic time. During my life there were some events, which you think never could happened. Like USSR collapse or war between Russia and Ukraine. So, I get used, that these kind of things might happen. And you can’t do anything with this, except to accept them as new experiences and time to think over about, what it means for you personally.
My everyday life is not too affected by coronavirus. Most of my time I do my work from home. So, now I have much more things to do and use this time to get new knowledges and work on my ideas, which I postponed earlier.
I do not believe that after death, there is nothing. So, for me life kind of computer game and you will be reloaded indefinitely. That’s why I’m not in panic.
As somebody said, to rich new level, you have to get out from comfort zone. Now, we all out there. This situation is very good opportunity to stop our rush and to listen ourself and change our life. Breath, think, talk with yourself, go ahead with wildest ideas, be kind to the world – that’s main points for now for everybody.
Coronovirus made us all stay home and do our job remotely. For me, a young artist, this situation provides a great amount of opportunities – galleries and curators moved online, people from different walks of life can now meet each other online in Zoom. Besides, coronavirus theme gave birth to various art projects, which quickly became famous. Since this tricky situation has started, I had an opportunity to meet with a few art scene celebrities and take part in several art projects, all online.
To be honest, I have no free time at all – every day I create artworks for different projects. One of my projects is capturing reality through sketches on newspapers, combining fresh news with my vision of the situation, as a daily chronicle of the pandemia. This contribution is a part of a group project on Instagram @artvirus2020 . The one thing I regret is that I can’t do bigger volume artworks - the workshop is closed now.
Brenda Brewer Moore
My name is Brenda Brewer Moore, and I am director of an organization that promotes literacy, equality and economic livelihood across Liberia. Our work is largely connected with schools and interacting with people in rural Liberia
The shutdown of schools has meant we have had to curtail most of our work. Children who rely on our rooms being the only available space to access resources can no longer do so as the libraries have all had to be closed. Even the community based trainings have had to be cancelled for now.
The virus is affecting the children we work with in several ways. The disruption of the school year means those who were to sit the regional exams cannot. Also, many of the kids in public schools who are part of the school feeding programs look forward to the daily meals the school offers. So for many, they will lose out on a meal a day.
The economic impact will hit parents. Many have lost their jobs. This means even less enrollment. Which was already a big issue here for this school year, as there was a drop in enrollment due to the slight increase in registration fee at public schools.
Gold Coast, Australia
When the coronavirus really started having an impact in the daily life around Oceania, I was on a trip to New Zealand. I had been living in Australia for five months on a Working Holiday visa. While I was in New Zealand, Australia decided to close the boarders for non perminant residents. That left me with two options, lock down in New Zealand or go back to Denmark and lock down with my family. No matter what I would have to abandon my job, friends, apartment and belongings in Australia. Getting back to Denmark wasn’t easy, I had multiple trips cancelled due to consistant changes and additional restrictions. Eventually I did manage go get to Denmark where I’m currently in the two week quarantine. I’d like to get a job when my quarantine ends, but that’s probably going to be difficult for a while. This pandemic has turned my life upside down, but I’m grateful that I get to be with my family instead of sitting alone across the globe.
Paraíso, Costa Rica
María Consuelo García Bonilla
Our daily life-style have changed a lot due to covid-19, we used to be the country of ’Pura Vida’ (pure life) a country recognize by the nature and touristic attractive, now all the beautiful mountains and beaches are completely empty. The borders are close and we are affronting economic problems due to the main money entrance for the country is generated by tourism. All the families are staying inside their homes but we still having people that don’t understand the seriousness of the situation and keep going outside. We have 502 and 3 deaths for covid-19, everyone in working together for reduce that number. The government decided to close everything except super markets and pharmacies, we have new regulations in transportations and also economic aid for needful families.
San Pedro, Costa Rica
Miguel Jara Rodríguez
I have a heart condition and that makes me a high risk person and the most challenging part is being apart for every human I know. Also trying to keep the mental health its not easy at all. I’ve started to do things I did not use to, like working out, studying a 3rd language or yoga . It’s hard to face how fragile we are are humans and keeping the mind busy and stable it’s a hard task. Here in Costa Rica the amount of infected people is raising and the quarantine is far from end. I live alone and talk to my family thru internet Apps. My mom lives next to me but it’s hard I can’t even visit her, she is also a high risk person. The first week I felt anxiety, fear and extremely loneliness (I’m a social person) but as the days passes by I learned how to be happy alone. Definitely, this experience will leave a deep mark on me, I’ll appreciate the most simple things of regular days like meeting someone, missing someone or tell people how you appreciate them. I hope to become a better person once all this nightmare ends.
Tetovo, North Macedonia
I am Rihan, father of two wonderfull kids. I am a math teacher, working nowadays online with my students, because of the case of COVID19. I am experiencing a new way of teaching and exploring many softwares, so that teaching becomes more and more easy from us but also more and more easy for student to understand us in our online methods. We are facing a lot of difficulties, because we are not used in online teaching. We are physicaly far from our student, but trying to put hope and strength in them, so they pass this crisis with less psychic weightiness.
I am also a beekeper, but fortunatelly my hives are not far from my house. I can go and work with them by ease. They are the best thing to keep doing in theese days. You forget everything about crisis and stress that media put in us with news about this pandemic.
My country is not a place where people could have save money, so the crisis is becoming deep. The situation has made a lot of people loose their jobs and stay at home without working something to earn for their families. A lot of peope have problem for the lease of their dwelling place.
I am also a president of an Association for development and education, which works in my country. We work with youth in educational sphere which includes eco activitations. But in this case, we can not work with youth because the laws do not allow us to gather for such activities, so we are all concetrated in helping old people that cannot get out, sending them food and medical treatments. Also we distribute food materials to people in need who lost their jobs and have nothing to live with.
After all, its not all black and white, because of this situation we know now the value of many things in our live. We understand the value of working live with kids, loving them, touching their hair, watching their smiles. We understand how much time we spend in not so many important things in everyday live. We value the importance of nature.
I hope after all this, we will make world better place to live.
Mexico City, Mexico
To be honest being at home is not that hard for me after 10 years living with Lupus. However, this doesn’t make me ignore what is happening around. In fact, the situation in the country is chaotic. First, my work has been totally affected by the Coronavirus, I teach expats at a University and transnational companies and 98% of my students went back to their countries Second, my heart is in constantly suffer because some members of my family are doctors and I am really worried about the situation they are living at the hospitals. The current president is not supporting the health system in order to protect doctors and nurses lives. They live in constant danger because the lack of equipment.
Third, due to irresponsible comments, people have bought hydroxychloroquine that is vital for the lupus treatment. In consequence, my and others health are at risk.
Third and last, stay at home is a privilege in our country. Unfortunately, thousands of people in Mexico are street vendors (cash business) what they sell is how they feed their families. For them, stay home is not an option, but survive.
In my country the government decided to suggest social distancing 10 days ago, but in Colima (the state) the government shut down all non essential activities as per March 19th. This means that my kids (17 and 8) have been home for 23 days. I have not been able to teach in our studio, only online classes.
Still we had zero cases here.. but tourists arrived.and now we have two cases. The national guard is currently on the beaches and streets, to prevent tourists from going out. This is a small town that lives from the port and the tourism. Sadly, many people are know are struggling. Restaurants, hotels, shopping centers are closed.
I just leave my house once a week for grocery shopping. Only one person per family is allowed to enter. It is heartbreaking to know many families are hungry. They live from selling their produce or handmade items to tourists. I am lucky, it is indeed very difficult not to kiss, hug, visit my mother and see my friends, but I have a home and can stay safe with my kids.
Ann Eileen Lennert
These chaotic times has made one stop up and think, appreciate and miss.
I appreciate the time that we have as a family and that we live in Norway where the nature gives us the feeling of freedom and peace of mind in times of restrictions and regulations. I miss my parents and family in Denmark and Greenland. The distance to them feels even further away, if something happens one cannot just travel and be there for them. It has made me think of how these times will affect my work and the industry I work within, but also who this crises has positively pushed us to think and rethink the future, our objectives and the beauty of engaging, understanding and including each other across borders and cultures.
I look forward to meet, kiss and hug again.
I’m Rocío Berardo, from Argentina. I live in the city of Rosario, one of the largest cities of the country, and I write to tell you about how is the Coronavirus situation here.
So far, we have almost 1800 infected people (that’s the number we’ve got yesterday) and 60 deaths. That’s not too much, and you’d probably think we’re lucky we prevented it soon enough. But the truth is that not many people is tested here, so the numbers are probably not certain for sure.
The quarantine here is total. We’re allowed to go to the supermarket, pharmacy and go for a walk with our dogs. Some workers of course have a permission to go out, if their job is needed (doctors, employees of the food sector, and so on). However, so many people went out anyway, that there’s a lot of people arrested for that, or they must pay a fee that’s truly expensive.
We’re doing fine, of course we’re tired of being inside, but my family, relatives and friends are doing the quarantine in order, and we don’t have to work (some of them only must work online), as well as all universities and schools are teaching online. So we’re having our routines, but inside our houses.
As far as I am concerned, the quarantine will perdure until, at least, the first days of May. And it started the 15 of March.
We want to go out... but we know that the only way to kill the virus is to stay at home.
Talking about Corona virus I have to start a bit earlier than in spring 2020. I’m a doctor on the neonatal ICU in a small town near Hamburg. Working in neonatology can be quite challenging from time to time, but luckily it’s a rewarding work, since there is a happy ending in most cases. Of course there are times when the complicated cases accumulate - then you don’t know where to start. In early 2020 the number and frequency of courses with severe complications was impressive. Working in these crazy times I was looking forward to my vacation more and more. Knowing that I’d be travelling to South America in the beginning of March was my sheet anchor, my aim to achieve.
So I flew to Bolivia to meet some good friends to travel with them together. After one week we arrived in Cusco and started to hike on the four day Cachicata Trek to see Machu Picchu. On the third day in the morning we were informed that the Peruvian government basically closed the whole country: no more international flights, no more regional transport, a curfew starting the following day, etc. So our company organised a bus bringing us to Cusco at the last minute. Our hostel was definitely a piece of luck - a private room with a bath, the landlord made breakfast and a delicious dinner every day and helped us as much as he could. Of course the days suffered a tiring monotony and the attempts of the German government to organize flights to Germany were in vain for weeks thanks to the creativity of the Peruvian authorities to pass new laws to hinder people from moving anywhere. The news from Germany during these days were ambivalent: the mortality rate was quite low still, but the preparations augur bad times to come. Also in my hospital were several measures taken to increase the number of doctors and nurses on the ICU - and I was stuck in Cusco doing nothing reasonable at all.
Eventually, after 17 days of “aislamento social”we made it: via Santiago de Chile we came to Frankfurt and after 36 hours of travelling we were finally back home. When I called my chief physician that I’d be able to work again, this marathon of waiting seemed to come to an end - but the following day the responsible federal state government passed a new law banning people who were abroad in the last 14 days to enter a hospital. So it is again time of waiting: my colleagues at work are waiting for the storm to come, and me to finally be allowed to work again, to help again - just hoping that the situation in the hospital is not escalating until then.
Dear colleagues in Denmark. I read your worldwide post and wonder if you are interested in a total different corona story - a lucky one.
Being a television journalist all my professional life and still working from time to time for my local newspaper I wanted the one big last travel experience at the age of 70 going to Vietnam and see Angkor Wat. Vietnam War and Pol Pot were the topics of my early professional life and I wanted to see the life there 50 years later. Not many Corona cases so no big worries.
Traveling in this Corona Time (Mid February - Mid March) through Vietnam and Cambodia was unbelievable interesting and beautiful. It was a dream. No overcrowded sightseeing like in normal times. Time to see, time to listen to the guide without being pushed through culture and history. We entered a country with closed borders to neighbour China and Millions of guest were missing. Big hotels completely empty, restaurants hoping desperately for guests. Sometimes we were the only eight people around. Imagine Halong Bay without other boats. Angkor Wat Sunrise with a handful of people instead of tens of thousands other spectators. It was the perfect time and a unique opportunity. We were so lucky and bring back unique memories. And we were at home before shut down.
London, United Kingdom
Life in time of Covid-19 is best expressed through the life of one of my great-grand-mothers, Leontine, who was born in 1884, in a small town in Normandie, France by the river Seine.
She lived ‘without borders’ at a time of nationalism and wars. Her first husband, Jules, (my great-grand-father) died in 1914. With her second husband, Victor, and my grand-father, Andre, aged 6, she embarked in travels around Europe as the war raged. How she did it, it is still a mystery! She settled in 1920 in Bruges, Belgium, with her family.
She was a ‘counterpoint’ for her time; born as a protestant, she married into a local influential catholic family. She started work at 16 in a local wool factory and whilst married, she continued with her factory work. She had the start of a ‘career’. Unusual then in provincial France.
She brought death and hope to our family; having escaped the deadly ‘Spanish Flu’ pandemic of 1918, she died in 1923 from Tuberculosis, another great killer of the time. She is buried in Bruges. Victor re-married and had a daughter, Marie, who found me years ago and I am close to: she is my ‘gift’ of a grand-mother from Belgium. A wonderful present in these difficult times.
»Relax! This is just one Flu. Plus, it only affects old people. We are fine«, my flatmate said to me. In the first week of the ‘Corona’ outbreak in Denmark, she spent days going in and out of our dormitory to party. She didn’t care about getting infected or even spreading to others. According to her, nothing was stopping her to enjoy the ’break’ she miraculously got.
I tried to talk her out of it, ask her to be more careful, respect those who could be harmed if exposed to the virus. She got mad. »Why do you care?« she asked me. Then I said it. I explained I’m part of the risk group. Because of an immune system deficiency, my body doesn’t have what it takes to fight diseases like this one. »If I get contaminated… I don’t stand a chance«, I honestly said. She stood there, looking at me, quietly thinking about what I just announced.
Hours later I received a message. »Sorry«, she wrote. Two weeks went by and no sights of her. »She moved to her friend’s house across town«, one of my roommates told me. »She didn’t change«, I thought to myself. Or maybe that was her way of helping. Leaving.
I am afraid. I am so afraid that it hurts my soul. The date is 17th March. My mother has already been in hospital for about a week and my sister – who lives in Denmark like our mother – writes that she has taken a turn for the worse. At this point, Singapore had already started closing its borders and advising against all travel. Nonetheless, I look for plane tickets, but there are very few flights. I think about whether there is any point in going to Denmark as I am not even allowed to visit my mother in hospital. We wait and see.
There is a message from my sister when I wake the next morning. There is no improvement. My mother is unconscious. We ask ourselves: Will she survive? Singapore now feels further away than ever before. The mental distance has grown, because I can no longer hop on a plane and go to Denmark. I dare not leave my husband and child. What if I cannot get back to Singapore? The next day Singapore announced that you will not be allowed back in, if you leave.
My nerves are raw. I am frustrated and cannot do anything. I am powerless.
My mother got through it and is now back home. Time will tell when I will be able to give her a hug.
Thomas Bo Pedersen
The virus turned up as a small cloud in our holiday sky all the way back in January. We were on a jungle trek in eastern Borneo looking for the legendary proboscis monkey with the enormous noses and the red penises that seem to be constantly on heat. One morning our guide suddenly brought facemasks and asked us to wear them.
»There is a new killer-virus from China, and there are many Chinese tourists here,« he said. Luckily, the masks did not scare off the monkeys. My camera got some great shots of both their noses and their proud, pointing red members.
On our way back to Hanoi on planes and through airports, there were more and more of us that did, as we were told. In the course of a few days, we became an army of walking masks throughout Southeast Asia.
It has been like that since then. Wherever we go now, it is mandatory to wear masks. In this country, civilians will intervene if there is no police present. They will courteously confront the disobedient.
On Danish television, I now see that Austria has also made masks mandatory. Even some Danish experts say that they may stop contagious spit. The Army of the Masks is unstoppable.
My name is Heshw Kawa. I work as a police officer for the Ministry of Social and Internal Affairs in the department for honour-related crime. I also study journalism and digital media in my spare time. I am 29 years old, a widow, and a single mother to my 6-year-old daughter. On Friday 3rd April, the authorities in Sulaymaniyah and Erbil set a curfew for 48 hours in an attempt to limit the corona outbreak. The number of infected persons in Iraq rose above 100, including 10 deaths and 24 recovering.
The authorities in Sulaymaniyah quickly used strong measures to prevent contagion. They encouraged us to keep a distance and stay at home. The problem was that people did not take it seriously. They ignored the message. It was around the time of Nawroz (the first day of spring and the beginning of the Iraqi/Kurdish year). So, people continued to celebrate the holiday with their family and friends as always. Kurds spend a lot of time together. For instance, my siblings and I visit our mother daily. We go by our parent’s house every day after work, and usually stay for dinner and only go home in the evening. So, it is very difficult for us to change our lives and our cultural routines. The older generation can also not understand why we cannot visit them. They feel that now is the time to stick together because we need each other. The authorities had to take action. For instance, anyone who returns home from abroad is quarantined for two weeks outside town. They have also closed the day-care centres, schools, universities etc. They have closed down all activity.
We are allowed to go to the nearest shopping area to buy food, and we need to hand sanitize before we go in and put on gloves. All other shops and businesses are closed, which is very tough for the self-employed and the poor, as we do not have a welfare state in Iraq. Therefore, several wealthy Kurds have set up private aid organizations where the poor and self-employed can call to get financial help, and the elderly who do not have a pension can get food and groceries delivered to their doorstep twice a week.
I am sad that my employer, the police, has sent home all the women, because there is no day-care for children. The male officers now have to do double shifts. I worry about what gender equality will look like after the corona crisis. We Kurdish women have worked hard to get this far.
I can still access data about honour-related crime and killings from home. I am happy to report that there have been no killings or suicides since the corona outbreak. That makes me very happy.
Cape Town, South Africa
The only constant thing in this life is change. Panicking about the things we cannot change or control is a losing battel. We can only prepare ourselves to be strong enough to adapt when change is needed.
South Africa is under a 21-day lockdown, we are not even allowed to take our dogs for a walk or go for a run. My life has changed drastically! As a tourist guide, I used to be on the road traveling for approximately 3 weeks a month constantly surrounded by people. Now, I’m locked in my house with no future income (very scary!).
On the bright side I have time! Time to relax, exercise, bond with my dogs, time to finish that list of things to do that was always left for tomorrow and time to connect with my loved ones (thank you internet).
Likewise, I have had time to reflect on the unhealthy consumer and rat race culture we’ve been manipulated into and teaching me to value “stillness” while also pushing me to make changes where I have been procrastinating.
Will normality return after this is over? Are we sure we’d welcome every aspect? We will have to wait and see.
Constança Soares Seborro
As of 15th March I started my self isolation after returning from a trip, thinking that after 14 days I would normally return to the routine. Needless to say that this did not happen and for the last weeks I have remained in my apartment, alternating between my personal and work laptops, depending on the time of the day we consider.
My daily routine hasn’t changed much, the only difference being that now I don’t have to commute. The rush between home-work-university was part of my life, now I just have to change laptops to be in a different environment. Going to the supermarket now became my weekly stroll.
The days pass surprisingly fast and although I haven’t become as productive as I hoped I would, going through this alone has definitely given time to think about everything going on and imagine what life will be in the next few months, for me and others. I realized that I’m lucky knowing that this situation had no major impact on my job so far, I haven’t lost access to education, even if online is not the ideal way for me to learn, and mostly, my whole family is safe.
I’m an Iranian filmmaker and I live in Paris. For the past 5 years, I devoted my full time on the making of two feature documentaries in Iran. For which, I had a good excuse to travel to Iran every few months to make my films but also spend time with my mother. My film completed on January and soon got accepted to have its World Premiere in a renown film festival. What a reward, after years of working and what a celebration for the birth of my baby first feature film. Yes, you’ve guessed it right. The pandemic affected the festival like millions of other events around the world and therefore, the organisers decided to hold in online. I probably cried for 5 days? To overcome, I decided to make radical changes within the small space I live in, within the possibilities I have in confinement. My best change is that I now sleep at 11 p.m. and wake up at 6 a.m. I decided not to lose the opportunity of seeing sunrise every day and listening to nightingales that sing around in my empty neighbourhood in Paris.
The photo shows the view from my window in the morning.
At the edge of the mountain and the fjord, where the inland ice meets the sea, you will find Ilulissat – this is where I live. We have no corona in Ilulissat, but we feel how the world around us is affected by this pandemic. Life continues quietly as it does in a town of 4.500 inhabitants. While the rest of the world fights Covid-19, the fishermen still go fishing, the dog sleighs run their regular routes, and the skis get an outing while the sun is shining from a cloudless sky, and the days get longer. While the rest of the world is affected, we are not affected yet, but we clearly feel what is happening around us, on the other side of the mountain and the ice.
Mushfiq Mahbub Turjo
I was sharing my house with Iben and Emil, two Danish exchange students from DMJX at Pathshala. When the pandemic struck, they had to leave Dhaka. I was suddenly alone. On 26th march a lockdown was declared. Two of my cousins came to stay with me. Thousands of people left the capital by buses, train, truck and ferries with a high risk of contamination. We bought all our essentials and decided not to leave the house. We have limited our food consumption as we don’t know how long we have to sustain. There is a price hike everywhere, as people are trying to profit from this crisis.
Just by my window, in a mango tree there are nests of crows. The chaos and noise of the city usually supress their voices. My wife says that now they are crying out loudly and flying madly for food. The lockdown has affected the stray animals in the city, who used to depend upon the leftovers of the dwellers and restaurants. birds used to entertain us and we used to throw some food for them. We cannot provide them food anymore. Now, we shy away from looking outside to see how they are surviving.
After my studies abroad in Copenhagen were terminated abruptly mid-March, I have returned back to my family’s home in the United States to complete the remainder of my semester courses remotely online. It’s a strange feeling being back in my childhood bedroom, surrounded by all the stuffed animals I grew up with in my parent’s house. I almost feel like a little kid again. My dad has taken up playing piano again--everyday he practices two hours at the same piano bench I used sit at over ten years ago, filling the house with infuriatingly choppy Beethoven or clumsy attempts at jazz pieces. I spend most of my days at my computer, cooking up new recipes, and walking outside in the neighborhood when the weather is nice. I found out that my summer internship was cancelled last week and am now left with no plans for the upcoming months. I don’t know whether or not to start looking for a new job--most places aren’t exactly looking to hire right now, and it seems like many people might have to spend this summer at home...I wonder when things will return to normal, or if ’normal’ will be forever different after this.
Los Angeles, California
Self-quarantine and working from home became my new normal 16 months ago after contracting Lyme disease so when Governor Newsom issued a stay at home order for my state, I didn’t think my life would change dramatically.
Boy, was I wrong.
I have two active viral lung infections from Lyme. I rely on a mask and gloves like never before. I was fired from my job of over seven years. And I’m homeschooling my 8-year-old son with learning disabilities.
But nothing compares to watching my son grow up overnight.
His piercing blue eyes reveal a maturity, a knowing, that both breaks my heart and gives me hope. I’m guiding him only two steps ahead into the unknown.
My beautiful son is growing up during a pandemic.
I am his guide, the world his teacher. Our learning is so much greater than subtracting hundreds.
I face my mortality – he learns bravery.
I put on my mask – he learns self-care.
I love him through it all and he learns what it is to be human.
Unlike the painful isolation of Lyme, I’m no longer divided by my pain. This is happening to all of us. And we will learn, persevere and grow.
Monday the thirteenth of January 2020, I got on a train. Then I got on another one and another one and a last and fourth one, and then I found myself in France. This was the day I started my exchange semester; a semester that held so many unknown adventures, friendships and possibilities. Or so I thought. It didn’t last as long as planned or contain as many experiences and memories as I’d hoped for, because two months later, I was on my way home.
That Wednesday, when the Danish Prime Minister held her memorable press conference, I was on a small trip to the south of France. Blissfully unaware of the circumstances at home, my phone started binging with breaking news and messages from friends. Denmark was shutting down. The next day, the French president gave the same news.
72 hours later I landed in Copenhagen Airport. 16 hours earlier I hugged my friends goodbye. Friends, I wasn’t sure if or when I would see again.
I feel robbed of an experience that was supposed to give me so much, but at the same time I feel more grateful than I probably ever would’ve if it wasn’t for covid-19. Grateful for the two months I had and the people I met.
I’m taking the photo, two Brazilians on each side and a German in the middle. My international crew <3
This unusual situation has forced me to think more about the everyday things I take for granted. Being able to ride the bus to school, eat lunch with my friends, go to practice, interact with other people and so on. It didn’t occur to me that I would ever miss going to school every day so much. Now I spend my time attending online classes and keeping the normal, yet not so normal, schedule. I am not going to lie, it has been frustrating, but I have to focus on the bright sides. In other countries and for other families in Iceland the situation is a lot worse. I cannot complain about having to stay at home, it’s unfair to those who have it far worse than me. I don’t want to be the reason for someone else getting sick, so I do my part by staying at home. I’m not the only one who has to deal with the pandemic so I will have to be patient and do everything I can do to help. We are all in this together and every action has to be taken seriously.
Corona came sneaking, like a shadow in the dark.
First a harmless news, then as a curiosity.
The thought soon turned into a pity and after several weeks, into a concern for one’s sweetheart, friends and colleagues, and suddenly, finally, the shadow came creeping over one’s own life too.
That sjit can even risk hitting myself.
A unsober calculation followed.
It was like a new layer on top of the layers of government and endless cruel media news.
Age, surroundings and neighbors. Jobs, Colleagues and Supermarkets Competitors. EVERYTHING turned into a floating backdrop of trapped anxiety, bodies, muscles and thoughts ...
Well, honestly, only the first week of the ’shutdown’.
The second week was astonishment over the global battlefield. Almost everyone attended, only the usual bunch hesitated a little too long.
The third week saw the beginning hope, the dream of unity, and understanding of our common struggles and tasks.
And now, in week four, we’re back in the shadow of the darkness.
Fuk the virus.
Now I want my everyday normality life back.
Go to work, out and eat, visit the theater, the cinema, out for a concert, touch and feel life.
Real reality is better than the alternative.
Being a bit of a hermit, a writer and (pre-coronavirus) a part-time travel guide, I am used to isolation. But usually the rest of the world ‘goes on’ around me, outside, which is comforting. Outside my window now, not much goes on. I will not be travelling any time soon.
Our neighbours had COVID-19. They isolated themselves and are fine now. We were merely onlookers. We follow the news from Denmark and from around the world, obsessively. I spend hours every day reading The Guardian, watching Danish news programmes, reading what my friend in Italy has posted on Facebook. It is a privileged position, exacerbating my isolation. Connected, yet totally distanced from it all.
My children are not hermits. They miss their friends, even school. My oldest daughter’s physics course, now online, has become even more difficult. She moved out only a few months ago, lives alone. We talk every day. My youngest daughter’s online existence has become her lifeline. She chats almost daily to Bruno in Brazil or Dominick in Germany, Courtney in England, her Danish friends. I hope this will leave no permanent damage on our children’s minds. I hope they continue to feel connected to the world and not full of fear.
On my daily walk to ensure my sanity, I pass these lovely cows. They know nothing about the corona virus
Against the current
Normally I live in Nicaragua, and I have been living there for the last 25 years. I left Nicaragua on the 4. Of March, to give some lectures about the situation in Nicaragua, and at the same time pay some visits to family and friends living in Denmark. Everything was ok, until Denmark began their prevention of covid-19. I went to Samsø to visit an old friend, that I have not seen for 30 years. My lectures were cancelled and I ended up with some good old friends in Odense, we try to live respecting the health authorities, my flights home to Nicaragua were all cancelled.
I miss my family in Nicaragua, and we are in daily contact on skype and whatsapp. After covid-19 the world will not be the same. Nicaragua has suffered for two years a political, social and economic crisis, the population want new elections, and the president has answered by killing several hundred protesters and many have been put in jail without respecting their human and legal rights. We have been living under a “state of emergency” for two years. Now the covid-19 has come to Nicaragua, I hope the Nicaraguan people will keep on struggling for health and democracy.
I am a journalist from Germany and have recently started an own podcast format. The project is called „Digga Fake“ (@diggafake on Instagram) and provides educational work against fake news and disinformation. More than ever I feel that my project is an essential contribution for society. Not only does the new corona-virus cause a pandemic, but also the work of fake news producers does the same. Even for me who is observing the scene for some time past, it is surprising how many fake news circulate on social media and through messenger services. Most of all, teenagers and young people are in jeopardy – they usually get their knowledge from dubious youtube videos. I also notice that more and more media outlets are sensitized to the issue and start reporting on the danger of fake news on a larger scale. That’s a good thing for all those fact checkers already out there. Hate speech, panic and conspiracy threaten our community-related bonds that hold society together.