A month of self-isolation during a deadly pandemic

When 2020 began, I doubt anyone imagined that the world would shut down like it has. It’s so surreal to think that we’ve been in quarantine from a deadly virus that has now killed more than a hundred thousand people all over the world. It’s difficult to fathom this new reality that we’re all living in right now. It seems so unreal to me.

Just a month ago, I thought my life was set in motion. I started a new job and got a lot more productive each day. I liked that life very much. Even though the news of the coronavirus loomed in the distance, here in Sri Lanka, everybody was going about their normal routines with not a care or worry in the world.

It was only when the first Sri Lankan patient was diagnosed that the whole country went into lockdown. Pharmacies, shops, and offices closed. The government imposed a curfew and asked people to practice social distancing in order to reduce the spread of the virus. Except for essential services, the entire country was in lockdown. They asked people to step forward and get tested if they had been travelling during the first two weeks of March. The numbers spiked and kept increasing every single day. Everybody was anxious.

The first few weeks of the lockdown was tolerable. I installed ‘Watchdog’ to keep up with the confirmed cases in Sri Lanka. I worried about my family as well as my family back home in the Maldives, so I enabled notifications from the Maldivian Health Protection Agency’s Twitter page. I did not feel anxious at first, though I watched the news with my dad every night to check what was happening around the world. The worst cases were in Europe and the United States. The cases were increasing dramatically every day and I was at disbelief that people were dying at such a rapid rate.

The pandemic is being compared to SARS that happened just a decade ago. I don’t remember it very much but from what I read, the fatality was as bad as any pandemic. The coronavirus has proven its deadliness. I couldn’t believe that the virus had spread so fast in such a short amount of time and that people were being treated without ventilators at hospitals. Hospitals were maxing their capacity as they were not able to admit all the diagnosed patients due to the limited availability of medical equipment. Many countries faced shortages of masks for the doctors to protect themselves from the affected patients. Such problems were experienced all around the world. I cannot imagine functioning in that environment, wherein countries like Italy, they had to resort to triage which is the process of determining which patients to save first because of limited supplies.

The doctors and nurses are truly the heroes of the world right now. They’ve sacrificed time with their families. Some have lost their lives while trying to save patients from this pandemic. A minute of solidarity and support for healthcare professionals is truly magnificent to watch. But is it enough? It’s great reading stories by those who have appreciated the support, but is it all that we can give them? I am not saying that we should not be clapping, of course, we should! While clapping and singing ‘Imagine’ is a beautiful gesture, it will not help them with the actual care and support they really need.

It was also disheartening to see some countries’ leaders (whom we shall not name) denying that the virus was dangerous. In the United States when the first set of patients were diagnosed, the president lied in front of everyone saying there was nothing to worry about. It was not until late last month that the president finally admitted that the virus was dangerous and urged citizens to practice social distancing. This move was so ignorant and selfish from a leader whose job is to protect the people.

As the weeks went by, the news started to get worse. The death toll in Italy increased. Still, I watched the news every day hoping that the number of cases would finally start to drop, but that remained a faraway possibility. I spent my days working and writing, I disabled all notifications and kept myself distracted from the news as much as possible. Truth be told, it was making me anxious, at this point everybody was. We thought that it would last for a few weeks, yet every day the numbers increased. There was no end in sight.

Every single time, my family would announce when a new patient was diagnosed. When the first Maldivian was diagnosed, I was so scared. When the first patient in Sri Lanka died, the same fear arose. The virus kept getting closer. I did not know what to do. I tried to keep myself sane by talking to my friends every day. They too were anxious about the pandemic and being able to share our feelings helped with the situation.

It has been a month and I have not stepped outside. I am too scared to go outside or even walk around in the garden. I know that if I wear a mask, everything will be fine. But I cannot shake the feeling of fear. Initially, there were reports that young people such as myself wouldn’t be affected by the virus but as the days and weeks went by, I read that many young people who were not immunocompromised were still diagnosed and did not recover.

Hopefully, this pandemic will be over soon and the world will get back to normal. However, I doubt we will ever be the same again. It is in these times that more is required from us, especially to be more compassionate towards others. There are people who still take their surroundings for granted.

Let’s all be more compassionate and caring towards each other during this difficult time. Let us not prioritize our needs above anybody else. We are all human and we need to show people more love right now. There is no need to be racist, xenophobic and call it the ‘Chinese Virus’. Don’t encourage others to do this. Call them out and make them understand that by not staying at home they are being selfish and putting everybody’s lives in danger.

Please stay safe and be kind to others.

For more information about COVID-19, visit: https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses

Film/TV Writer & Critic | Video Editor | https://linktr.ee/nuhahassan