Tuesday 21 April 2020

Personal reaction to Covid-19

It's strange how family and friends around the world are experiencing the reactions to Covid-19 and how their governments and their neighbours how people are responding.

This isn't a post about government response or how the spread is being handled, the rights or the wrongs, it's about day to day living.

Dubai closed schools on March the 8th initially for 4 weeks. Within 2 weeks social distancing started, a week later attractions and meeting places were closed down and by week 4, Emirates stopped flying and the borders were closed. A week later a curfew was in place between 8pm and 6am and now you are only allowed to leave your house for essential work and supplies., you must apply for a permit online first.

I arrived in the UK on March 24th, the day before the UK went into lockdown, around the same time as Dubai did, but in a different way.

When I left Dubai on the 24th as a citizen I had to sign a mandatory agreement to go into 14 day isolation in a medical facility upon my return. The previous week, Dubai authorities had closed the E gates. On arrival in the UK, I walked through passport control as usual, through the electronic gates and out.

There was a woman meekly asking if people wanted a leaflet, it offered advice on self isolating if you'd recently visited the countries on the list. The UK, Heathrow T5 missed a valuable opportunity to check where people had travelled from prior to their arrival from Dubai, we were a full plane of passengers in close proximity to one another for 7 hours. No one checked which countries I'd travelled from.

I practised self distancing from my friend who collected me from the airport and kept me safe over night before I made a journey using 3 trains across the country to get home. I had a carriage to myself as the staff on the platforms were advising people to do this.

The second week in March I'd spoken to my son in Australia who made the decision to stay put as he has a job in transport, a car, a flat and a girlfriend. The PM advised no one was to leave the country and some airlines announced they would no longer be flying out of Australia from March till June 14th.

My husband and our 4 boys all are key workers, husband and youngest child can work from home, the other 3 are still going out to work each day. I made the decision to return to the UK as we have a disabled child in the UK, she's not at risk from the virus health wise but she does live in a care home and we were concerned as to what would happen to her should the staffing levels drop, at least with me being here, I could have her home. She requires 24/7 care and supervision, to the extent I would have to take her to the bathroom with me and she would be a risk in the kitchen when I was cooking, but I wouldn't be able to leave her in the front room unsupervised, but I'll manage if I have to. I also came back as the weather is heating up in Dubai and it won't be long before I wouldn't even be able to sit in the garden, also my MIL was house and pet sitting and wanted to get back to her own home.

I've managed to get an online shop for my mother, my niece and her family live in the same town so have been able to pop up with additional supplies when needed, but they're not wanting to go out with 4 small children unless they have to.

I've been to the shops 3 times now for essentials, thankfully I'd stockpiled back in February before I returned to the UK, not because of the virus, but because I knew I wouldn't have a car on my return. All I needed to do was stock up with meat and fruit and veg. I'm also walking the dog on a daily basis but only for a short walk, incase we go into further lockdown like Dubai and I won't be able to take him out.

I've noticed neighbours walking their dog twice a day or taking the dog out in the car to go for a walk, people are going out everyday to pick up food for that evening, rather than just shopping in one go when needed. whilst I appreciate there maybe reasons for this, I'm seeing similar comments being made on social media and in local fb groups. I'm not intending to shame, but I don't think a lot of people have really grasped the size of this pandemic and that it's worldwide and affecting people of all ages.

There seems to be an assumption that as the stores are open people can go in them. I've heard people moan the queues are too long and they're not prepared to wait, people who have visited 3 stores in one day to get a particular brand of food, people over 70 going to the shops daily as it's 'their slot time for shopping' despite having relatives that could shop for them.

It also amazes me how many people seem to think this lock down is personal, that it is only happening like this in the UK and that other countries are managing it better, that the government is at fault for it's spread, that they SHOULD have been told earlier to stay indoors. People were acting with anger at the train station because their train was delayed or cancelled, people are acting in disbelief that this is actually happening but following the guidelines, some blatantly ignoring them, some say it's a government conspiracy.

I appreciate I am fortunate that I don't have to worry about my income, I don't have children to home school, I'm healthy, have a garden and I have more than enough things to do to keep myself occupied with renovating our family home after 9 years of tenants.

I'm following all the guidelines, washing my hands after handling the post, wiping down the bin and door handles for the refuse collectors and the people who deliver the post. I'm using only one pair of shoes and one coat when I go outside and keeping them separate. I'm washing everything that comes into the house and carry wipes, gloves and hand gel with me where ever I go and using it.

My positives:

Getting more work done than I anticipated
Saving money by not going out for coffee everyday
Learning new skills such as tackling a plumbing job and making repairs
Reconnecting with old friends
Grateful for the video online calling services that are blocked in Dubai

My negatives:
Missing my husband and no idea when we'll see each other again
Whole days go by without a real life person to talk to
No one to make me a cup of tea in the morning
No one to cuddle other than the cat and dog
The silence is deafening

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