COVID-19: Quarantine stories

Shabana (Cape Town, South Africa)

South Africa has been in lock down since the 27th of March, so it’s been 8 days now.  We have about 1500 confirmed corona cases at present and 9 deaths. Lockdown for us means that you are not allowed to leave the house for anything except grocery shopping or for performing an essential service for which you have a permit. I work a corporate job using a laptop which enables us to work remotely. We use Microsoft Teams for our meetings and other communications, and this has been quite successful thus far. This gives me some sort of structure and purpose to my week days.

I think the biggest challenge is that I am restricted from going for a walk or exercising outdoors, which makes me feel pretty cooped up. But I’m staying at home with my family, being my parents and my sister and this helps so much. It’s been great spending this time with them, playing games, cooking meals, doing YouTube workouts and watching movies together. It’s time we’ve never really had because we all lead such busy lives. I am also focusing on other projects I have planned for lockdown. These being paintings, a veg garden and some spring cleaning. So far I’ve been keeping myself quite busy and that’s distracted me from the fact that I can’t leave home. I also try not to watch too much news to avoid increasing my anxiety. I schedule calls with friends and family to stay connected and help pass the time.

Nicolas (Malaysia)

The overall situation in Malaysia is rather serious. I’m pretty much completely isolated. That’s also because of the political circumstances.  The government has ordered an MCO – meaning complete lockdown of the state. You’re not allowed to go outside apart from getting groceries. Most of the companies, if they are not life essential, are ordered to instruct their employees to work from home. If these employees are found to not work from home they might face prison for six months. Also, in general if you’re being caught jogging, walking your dog or anything not involving getting groceries they will arrest you, you may face up to two months of prison or a fine of 1,000 Malaysian … . It all started to get critical when there was a gathering of a thousand Muslims where 400 people got infected about two weeks ago. The virus has been spreading in Malaysia ever since. That’s also why we have this lockdown. 

My normal day during the week: I work from 9am to 7pm. Afterwards, talking to my friends and family usually. During the week I need to go buy some groceries twice a week where we get hand sanitizer and gloves before entering the store. Other than that, on the weekends I’m still allowed to meet my friends living in the same condo building so we play games, drink some alcohol and have a good time.

I’m coping alright with it so far. This lockdown will continue at least until April 14. So it’s good that we have social media and the internet during these times in order to stay connected with friends and family. It helps a lot. It keeps you sane. Other than that it’s nice to still be able to hang out with your friends in the condo. Of course, you’re not allowed to overdo it. But as long as you keep it small you can still have a good time. That’s usually also helping me to stay sane. Then of course, usual forms of entertainment like books, online series and movies. I have not really grown from this experience. I’m not liking this whole home office thing. I just hope it goes over soon. It’s quite annoying having to stay in your apartment all the time but of course it is much needed in order to prevent the whole situation becoming even worse.

Asif (India)

India is currently under lockdown for 21 days (until mid-April). So far around 1100 people have been affected and 50 have died. The situation is not grim here until now though there are possibilities that it will deteriorate in the coming days. Regarding the lockdown everything is banned except for essential services. Life has become tough for normal citizens, especially poor people who are facing food shortages. The government is taking drastic measures to ensure that the lockdown won’t be extended after 21 days. The crux of the lockdown is to isolate the corona positive cases and isolate them and let the country run normally. Moreover lockdown also ensures that the government will be able to buy extra time for health preparedness. Lockdown hasn’t really affected me much primarily because I am used to it and we are in dire need of time. To be honest there is no other way to contain this virus except social distancing. This commentary describes the current situation in India well.

Vikas (Belgium)

Well due to this pandemic, things have changed a bit. I have been in quarantine with my parents for the past two weeks. My daily life consists of teleworking, sports, reading and TV. The current situation in Belgium is quite grave since the country is in total lockdown with the exception of taking a walk near your home. As we are heading to the peak of infections for the moment, the situation is going to be more intense. By the time of this writing there are more than 15 000 infected persons and more than 1000 deaths. The situation in the Belgian healthcare system is still stable due to the fact that half of the capacity of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds has not been utilised yet. I hope it stays that way. I am coping quite okay with social distancing as I have been keeping myself busy with my work and workouts. I keep in touch with my friends via social media. This situation is also helping me to do some self-reflection.

Tijmen (The Netherlands)

Since the announcements from the government two weeks ago I’ve been staying inside as much as possible. I only leave my apartment every two to three days to go grocery shopping or go for a walk, as I do think exercise and fresh air are important to keep one’s mind clear. My university was actually already quite well-adjusted to teaching online, so that has continued almost normally. I follow six online lectures a week and besides that I work a lot on my assignments (building architectural models is a lot harder without the proper tools).

The government has ordered us to stay inside as much as possible. Restaurants, bars and cafes have all been closed (delivery or pick-up still possible). Gatherings are forbidden: You could even get a fine up to €400. If you can work from home, they advise to do so.

As I live alone I am not in contact with a lot of other people. This is quite difficult as I prefer to be around friends most of the time. I try to call family and friends on a daily basis to maintain contact with the people around me. Due to the measures I can’t play football either. Therefore, I bought some fitness equipment so I can still exercise. I workout for about 30 minutes a day and feel like this really helps keep a positive mindset as I feel more energized and it makes me feel good about myself. I think I’m working out even more than before the quarantine, so that’s a benefit. I do struggle as it seems it’s the same thing all over again each day. I try to keep things interesting by reading books on subjects I am unfamiliar with or, when I do go outside, discover a new part of Rotterdam.

Despina (Greece)

Covid-19 pandemic has changed my everyday life a lot. I have a Master of Science in Biology with specialization in Immunology. During the last months, I was in France through an Erasmus+ Internship when suddenly the pandemic broke out. Due to this unprecedented situation I had to return to my home country Greece and to discontinue the internship. For 14 days I was self-isolating in my room, not touching any member of my family or any common objects for precautionary reasons. During this time I didn’t display any symptoms, so I was either healthy or an asymptomatic patient (couldn’t know since I wasn’t tested when I returned to Greece). Either way I kept my distance from everybody to be sure that I will not risk anybody’s life. Hopefully, my 14-day quarantine ended without anyone getting sick, but the general quarantine in the whole country is still ongoing. I still stay at home, and only go outside for supermarket needs. I keep in touch with the supervisors of the laboratory of my internship in France and try to work from home. Although, as you can imagine, it is not easy for biology scientists to work away from the laboratories since we have to do experiments to move forward.

In Greece the government took action early enough, while we were watching our neighbours in Italy confront this sad situation and being unable to contain the spread of the virus. At first, the schools and all the educational institutions closed. After that, a lot of jobs were “freezed”, and cafeterias and shops were closed. By now we are advised to stay at home and move only for very important reasons near the neighborhood with a document certifying the reason for going out accompanied by our ID. There is constant police control which supervises the legitimate reason of movement of civilians. These measures are really appreciated from Greek civilians who want to stay at their home to remain safe and healthy.

Social distancing is a very difficult situation to cope with. Most people have to stay away from their grandparents and their friends to protect them. It is hard not being able to meet with your beloved ones as you were used to. On the other hand, you get to spend a lot of time with your family and gain the time that you lost previously due to work and other responsibilities. We have to remain positive, be patient and be cautious not only for us as individuals, but for everybody around us. We have to act responsibly and cooperate all together as a whole in order to contain the spread and give time to the health care system to be able to handle the patients. We should look after our mental health and gain the most of the time with our families out of these times!

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