A quick note before we begin. This is my blog, and, obviously, not an official source. It’s very much from a personal perspective. I understand people are dying from COVID-19, and if I’m occasionally lighthearted, it’s not to intended on any level to downplay that. I moved to South Korea on my own 13 years ago, and writing about it was one of the ways I coped with the anxiety that came with the early strain of what turned out to be an incredible adventure, and helped me to process what I was doing. Obviously this won’t turn out to be an incredible adventure, but it is written in the same spirit, one of, essentially, dealing with how things are.
So what’s happening?
From 6pm Yesterday, Ireland shut down schools, cancelled all major gatherings (over 100 indoors and 500 outdoors), and told everyone who can to work from home. As a result, I’m now working from home for the foreseeable future, making today day 1 of who knows how many, as the country tries to tackle a severe outbreak.
Now, we’re not technically locked in. The instruction is more to stay away from crowds, to avoid unnecessary social scenarios. Yesterday the shops went a little bit crazy with people trying to stock up. There’s real anxiety around how life will continue as normal: the official ‘return to school’ date is March 29, but I think most people probably expect it to be longer.
Ireland had its first case of the coronavirus 12 days ago; there are now 70 cases (as of last night), and it’s expected to grow. I’m worried. Worried for the inevitable deaths. I’m worried I might have seen some people for the last time, and that it could take a very, very long time to get back to normal. Deaths elsewhere are already in the thousands. Our main focus is keeping our distance from others, and trying to make life as normal as possible for Adam, who’s six.
So here we are, sat at the kitchen table, doing a mix of school work and work from home stuff, and trying to make lists of things that can be done around the house to help with keeping an air of normality. Deep cleans will be done, walls will be painted, pictures mounted and long overdue little projects complete. We’ll also be going out, but to places, as far as possible, where we won’t be close to others.
What this has done is really highlighted how fragile normal life was before. It only took weeks for us to worry about our capacity to deliver food supplies, or industries collapsing, where paychecks will be coming from, that kind of thing. It’s a dark place that’s appeared very quickly for a lot of people. Personally, I understand that I’m relatively lucky; my family and I are young and healthy and statistically, we’re likely to cope. But the world has changed so dramatically, so fast. It’s disturbing and difficult and puts previous worries into perspective. Concepts like the delaying and limiting of peak viral spread (see the gif below) have become normal to all of us very quickly.
I have no symptoms at the moment, and no one I know has reported any, either, at least not in my earshot. I guess that will change over time. Meanwhile, it’s music, art, work and self-preservation, in the hope that this, too, will pass with as little damage as possible. I don’t know if an online diary will help, but it has before, so I’ll give it a go.