Covid letters from around the world

We are not alone in this...let's stay connected through our experience

Go to the profile of Julie Leoni
Mar 24, 2020
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I want to know

I’m a bugger for it.  I want to know how this virus really is for people living with it day to day all everywhere so I got in touch with friends and asked:

Hi,
How are things with you? How’s the virus situation over where you are? I want to write a blog based on how it actually is from people living with it in other parts of the world. Would you be able to write a bit about some or all of these things:
• How it is for you and your family specifically (daily life, habits, attitudes, how you spend your time)
• If you know people who have been ill, how is it for them?
• Do you know anyone who has had it more than once?
• How are food supplies and shopping?
• How is law and order?
• How are your health systems coping?
• What is the mood and feel of where you are?
• Is it hitting some parts of the population more than others?
• How is it changing life for you?
• What are your worries?
• Are there any positives? What are you hopeful for?
If you are up for it, maybe it is something we could do weekly or bi-weekly as a way of globally uniting people and helping us see that we this is something we are all in together, no matter geography, class or politics.
Also, it would be good to be in touch with you at this weird time. I hope you are safe and well.
Julie
xx

Here’s what they are saying (more to come).  Thank you to John in London, Axilleas in Crete, Michael in Athens, Doai in Vietnam, Janet in Norway and Aysha in Dubai.  Thank you for sharing your stories and helping create connections across the globe.

London

One of my nieces has been confirmed with the virus.  This is her descriptions of the symptoms: ‘ a sense of smell and taste isn’t so strong.  Temperature, aches and pain in back and legs from 4am on Monday morning. Headaches all Monday. Same Tuesday although by the end of the day my temp was OK. Back pain really bad.  Wednesday small cough started. I started doing stuff again (like loading the dishwasher) as had no temperature, but found I had to go and lie down after about 10 mins as felt faint/weird.  Standing for that length of time didn’t help back pain.  Thursday cough was worse, but nothing to worry about and chest heavy because of it. Standing for long periods wasn’t good…made me feel weird.  Back pains started again in the evening. Today, cough still there but I’m clearly on the mend.  Just need to get rid of the cough. Was in bed Monday and Tuesday but not so ill I couldn’t message people’.

Vietnam

I feel the situation is Vietnam is very different to the situation back in Europe… – My family started self-quarantine since the 7th of March. After Patient no-17 returned from London/Milan to Vietnam undeclared, had contact with a number of people. This put the country in chaos, her street was immediately put into quarantine and all the people she was in contact with went into government’s quarantine. I haven’t left my neighborhood since then.
Habits – we stopped going to the gym and we closed down the family’s coffee shop. Attitudes – the first days were full of anxiety but we’ve gotten used to it. My parents are cautious but relatively positive. Everyone is just trying to protect each other at this point. Time – my father still works, as he is a painter. Hand sanitizers and masks + temperature check were provided for his employees/students. We remind people with close contact to the vulnerable employees to be extra cautious on this. – I don’t know anyone who has been ill as the cases in Vietnam are only just over 80 with 0 deaths (surprising because we have shared borders with China!)
We know quite a few people who came back from abroad/most affected zones who are now in the government’s quarantine. – I have heard many cases on the news who had it, got cured then tested positive again. So I’m not quite sure how herd immunity is going to work over there… – We had a day or two of people running around a hoarding food and supplies. Then everything calmed down after 3 days. As we all live in big families with different age groups, the elderly are being taken care of by their children/grand-children, so we didn’t experience the problem of having them go to the markets alone.
No toilet paper hoarding here hahaha because asian cultures have bidets installed. – We have changed many legislations, especially regarding issuing visas for tourists. People in the worse affected regions of the world are no longer given a visa upon entry. Prior to this, those who flew in were given 2 options. 1 – book another flight ticket for somewhere/home 2- go into 14 days quarantine, all fees covered by the government and our ministry of health. A new law have also been issued for all citizens and foreigners to wear a mask in public places. Tourists are given free masks if they don’t have one. We also have laws against businesses that started discriminating against foreigners out of fear. –
As a developing country, our health system is doing the best they can. Working endlessly for the safety of all. Most people working in these areas haven’t been able to go home for a month. Their main focus now is to provide quarantine for all the suspected cases and also take care of those who tested positive. Our military bases have been evacuated to accommodate the quarantines, our soldiers are working day and night to sanitize the areas and provide food and supplies for those in quarantine. Side note – soldiers have given up their beds to camp outside during the crisis. The treatment is free for all Vietnamese citizens and foreigners as well (we don’t have a system similar to the NHS, but for the virus, the government decided to do free treatment and testing).
The streets and households in self-quarantine are also provided with 100,000VND/day/person (3pounds/day) and also food and supplies delivered everyday. – The best word the describe the situation/mood is probably ‘strange’, considering that everyone’s daily life have been interrupted. Luckily, everyone is respecting the advice given on social distancing, hygiene and masks wearing. However we see a clear divide between the expat community and the Vietnamese community, when some Viet businesses decided to not ‘serve’ foreigners out of fear that they came from infected regions. (This was also after several cases of foreigners not taking precautions and ended up passing the virus to people working in businesses that they went it, nevertheless not a justification for this kind of discrimination but the government sorted this issue out after issuing the new law).
I think everyone is experiencing a certain level of anxiety but we’re trying our best to cope… All the bars and clubs have also closed down weeks ago, as well as many restaurants and coffee shops. I feel, as a collectivist culture, we were very aware of the consequences that the virus would carry on our families, especially because most of us are living with our parents/grandparents, even after marriage.The government also closed down all schools in early February after learning about the situation in China and also started preparation of official quarantines areas; this could explain our incredibly low number of cases. – In the most part, the infected cases are students traveling from Europe back home. Many of the patients are also foreigners, around 40%. In terms of businesses, all seem to be managing for now. But we are expecting a recession soon. –
In terms of my life, after days stuck at home, I realized how much of an extrovert I was… But I am getting used to it. I am in the period of preparations of my Year 1 exams so I am keeping busy (although still unproductive). I am trying to adjust my daily routines, as I am no longer able to go to pilates, do kick boxing, go to coffee shops to work etc. – I worry the most about my parents’ health, I am scared to be in incubation period, passing them the virus and them having to deal with it at a much bigger severity than I will. Apart from that, there is also the anxiety of having to have a full lockdown of the city. There’s also many uncertainties concerning my upcoming exams as all the schools have closed down in England (I’m doing a degree with the University of London – LSE program). I am also scared of testing positive and have everyone I went into contact with go into quarantine… including the people’s families, etc. – I’ve been looking for positives for a few days.
Today we heard good news about Patient number 18 being out of the hospital so that was good! I spent a few nights watching cat videos and miracles stories on YouTube to cheer up as it was difficult to escape from the on going negativity about the virus on the media.  Please let me know about how it is in the UK at the moment! I am very curious, I’ve only been in contact with some friends in Italy and France but I haven’t heard much from the UK, apart from on the news. I hope you are safe and well too! xx

Greece – Athens

Hi Julie, I arrived in Athens (from the UK) last Saturday, coincidentally the first day of the measures taken here… everything was/is closed but supermarkets and pharmacies… people keep a distance of two metres from one another and only few of them circulate outdoors (despite the good weather)…all hotels will be closed till April 30th, so Easter is gone…
I/we spend time at home, reading, watching films, doing chores, gardening (thank God we have a house and not a flat here)… from this weekend, anyone being out for no reason (food, medication…) will be fined with 1000 euros… from Monday no flights will be released to and from the country…
I don’t know anyone from my friends having been infected but the situation is critical and Italy (which has overtaken China in terms of deaths) gives us the way we should be facing things…
UK has delayed measures and it may be fatal, in my opinion; like Italy and Spain… the health system works for now but if things get out of hand no system can cope… I am concerned (not extremely worried but hopeful) and keep patient. careful, cool… the virus hits any age but people with sensitive lungs (i.e. smokers) need to be much more careful… life goes on with a distance, inevitably… for anything else, ask me further…how about you then? hope you are getting on well… take care…

Greece – Crete

 First of all , in Greece we are still in denial and still many people go out. Me personally and my girlfriend that we live together.  It is our 7th day inside and we left the house only one time for shopping very late just before the shops close.
For us two me and R its not that bad to be honest. We do yoga every morning , watching movies , cooking, playing games and stuff.
I don’t know anyone getting sick yet neither i know someone having it second time.
Our food supplies are ending soon. And I don’t want to go out at all to buy new things,to cook and stuff but I will need to go soon 😞 The most of the Greeks run and bought most of the things already . Know one cares about their neighbors.
We don’t have any masks (we cant even find any to buy).. But we are positive.
Now about law and order haha lets laugh together. Greece and law and order are not going together. People still go out and for some strange reason the old generation. They have the biggest risk but still they don’t care. Now our president ( crap ) said yesterday that after this weekend they will decide if they will ban all transport everywhere ( with cars or by foot).  I think its scary a bit . If you are not allow by law to go out but I think its the only solution. People are stupid and I believe that. I would love to have faith on us but… Maybe they need to get scared or something.
Our health system is one of the worst in Europe and at the same time Italy’s is really good I think. But still you can see what is happening now. So I want to say that , people need to start thinking again that we are not able to treat so many people like Italy . We don’t have beds like Italy nor doctors like Italy. We are going to be in a really bad situation if we don’t act. And its coming fast.
Now for example WE don’t HAVE even tests… They announce 20 /30 die everyday and they say 400 total. But the ugly truth is that probably we have more than 10.000.
People don’t care..  We need to act like we are infected all of us. To save whatever we have.. the next 1 – 2 weeks are going to be the worst. Kastoria the town my mother leaves has population of 14.000 people and they have 25 ill people. This is really bad for a small town. And they are gonna put the town to quarantine. Because 25 ill means 250 in one week.
So the conclusion is that we have really bad hospitals and stuff. But if we make it come slower we can still treat people. 100% it will come hard but we need to make it come slow.
My mood is really good for some strange reason all this situation is a bit interesting and scary. I’m thinking all the time.. what days we leave in its crazy. I think at all this shit we can find some positives. Find time for your self, meditate make your house different, play games. Spend time with your family.
Like every one I think is hitting hard old people but you cannot risk it. Its a new virus know one knows how their body will react. Also we young are the super spreaders. we are very responsible for our old people because the most of us can have the virus but be okay , and if you don’t know that you have it and you still go out and doing things we can infect people that can kill them. The risk is high. We need to stay HOME to protect them.
It changes my life a lot. I was working everyday 9 to 10 hours and now nothing . Many things that we were used to do are gone for now. We need to be patient and the good days will come. Lets see if our lovely ( god ) … Will do anything . Or he still testing us.
My worries are for my people and all in general, but first of all my family.. My worries are that we still don’t care a lot and hard days are coming. We have only 600 beds for emergency situations in whole Greece. Also we have a huge problem with the refugees at Evros. Its a river at the borders and they are more that 10.000 people there trying to cross the borders.  Its not possible unfortunately.
For sure they are some positive news for different countries about the virus. I read yesterday that doctors at Greece saw that every patient at the 6-7th day are getting worst at a specific place of the lungs and they are gonna try a new treatment that no one else did it yet and we are waiting for the results. I wish all this will finish at least for some months at summer and we will have time to cure it for the next winter.
… I hope you are ok safe and healthy. much love from Greece

Dubai

We are doing as best as we can. I was a stay-@-home Mom until my home became an Empty nest ! After my sons left home I kept traveling- visiting family in India and both my sons in N America. My stay in Dubai was few and far between.
Now the Corona is here. My mother in law came visiting end of February. She’s 86 years old but healthy for her age.
Flights were closing down, airports & borders were being shut. The worry was increasing. Elective surgeries were being cancelled.
My younger son is doing his final year in Vancouver, BC. His campus shut down so he elected to fly to NY to be with his brother. So he took the last flight and is there with a H now.
In Dubai the situation is fluid. The number of declared Corona patients is quite low. But nobody knows !
People are all staying indoors. Going out only to buy essentials. So much uncertainty! That’s the hard part. When ? When will normal become the everyday ?
Grocery stores are well stocked. People are all buying more than usual but shelves are not empty by a long shot.
My family in India are all doing fine. But India being a huge poor country with a creaking health system is under tremendous strain. They are not testing the population. So the numbers tested positive is incredibly low !
My worry is for the future like all of us ! What will happen ! How many jobs lost, livelihoods destroyed. World economy is going to be shattered. They say 80% of the population is going to be infected. How many will survive and of those what damage is it going to do to our internal systems ????!!!!
I worry for my two boys who are stuck in an apartment in Manhattan, which is now one of the high risk cities ! How will they cope ? For how long ? When will they be allowed to safely home to us ?
I worry about what will happen if I contract the virus. How will my mother in law cope ? Will she get infected ? So on and so forth !!!!

Norway

Dear Julie, I feel like the UK has undergone some form of mass lobotomy. It terrifies me to see the blase approach to the situation – led by the govt of course. It seems for once that me and my brother are in alliance. I am terrified for my parents who  are giving me an ulcer. They keep going out – despite my pleas. Now they understand how serious it is. I have had to use the awful phrase: Do you want to see me again? These are awful times. I have some friends who are of like mind to us – some who work for NHS whom I am super worried about. The UK govt is a joke and make me want to scream. We are ok. Cannot visit Y’s mum – understandably – but Y worried he is going to lose her re Dementia. Visits were a way to keep her in reality. We have the phone. Working from home is a challenge -but means we keep our jobs and wage for now. Generally life is fine. Shops are stocked and people responsible (to a greater extent). Let me know how things are from your end. I think making teachers provide child care for key workers is bonkers. What are your thoughts? I would not want my kids with lots of other kids – and who will look after them if you get ill? There is no need for the situation in the UK. The signs were all there from China and Italy. Self isolation is the only way to beat this and stay safe. Please do it.

So there we have it.  Real people, real places, real stories..more to come.
Julie

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Go to the profile of Julie Leoni

Julie Leoni

Writer, Listener, Teacher, Dr

I am a stress and well-being coach who supports women to ask for what they want and look after their own needs so that they can hear their heart's call and live a more empowered and meaningful life. I draw on experience and training in bereavement, domestic abuse, mindfulness, meditation, yoga, Transactional Analysis and other therapeutic approaches to get you loving you. I have 2 sons who I love loads (and who sometimes drive me crazy). I'm a Barefoot Trained coach and I got a distinction for my post-grad cert in 2011. I have a PhD which led me to look at Emotional Intelligence in schools and I have a number of academic and professional qualifications in various types of therapy. I have practiced meditation since I went to India over 25 years ago and I'm currently training to be a yoga teacher. I have written a couple of books, I teach psychology and work with a large variety of coaching clients.

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