Home alone – a pandemic diary (day eight -18.03.20)

I opened the window and looked out. My son Afonso was getting in the car and his friend was putting the helmet and they both took the road. Pedro had already left. I was worried about their motorcycles being in the parking downstairs. Although it’s inside the building, there have been some thefts and with the State of Emergency about to be declared who knows what might happen. They decided to come and get them but left straight away. No hugs, no kisses. Only their worried look that I’m staying behind. They wanted me to come to my beach apartment, but I’ve told them it’s not possible yet, with the recent painting works. What a timing, my God! I cannot think of a worse one, but then, things have precipitated themselves in such a way… only two weeks ago we were still leading our normal lives.

 

A heavy heart

I see them go with a heavy heart. I try to be positive, but in these times our place is with our family, our loved ones. My loved ones are 40 kilometres away, for their own sake, but all this uncertainty, or rather the certainty that it will all get worse before it gets any better is driving us all crazy.

 

From tomorrow onwards we will be in a State of Emergency – it has been decided in Parliament today. The President of the Republic – who went into quarantine himself after having received a group of students that included one infected with the coronavirus, but is now back and in great shape, after two weeks’ isolation – will address the country tonight at 8 pm. It remains to be seen what measures will be taken and what liberties will be limited. It is true that some people have not yet understood what this is all about. Maybe none of us have. Today I had to go to a pharmacy in Saldanha Square and there were people sitting outside  on the terraces, drinking coffee as if it were an ordinary day. Which it wasn’t.

 

Scary talks

I am now prepared to stay indoors for quite a few days, having food and remedies and everything I need. Information is getting more and more worrying, even if some sources may not be completely reliable. Some friends tell me when you come from the street you should leave your shoes outside and wash all the clothes you have been out with. Something a bit difficult, especially with winter coats… First, I heard the virus survived for three days on clothes and objects, now I hear a new version of nine days… Even if you take many precautions nothing is 100% safe, there will always be something, a little detail that will escape you, and if you start thinking about that you’ll become insane, which is not advisable at this time.

 

I usually call my friends to chat for a while, and to hear a human voice on the other side, but today the phone calls did not leave me with a positive feeling, on the contrary, I am anxious about all this terrible information. More: a friend’s stepdaughter, who is a nurse, announced that 80% of the population will get the virus, even in many will have only light symptoms. It’s a scary number.

 

The Conspiracy theory 

Last but not least, there are those who uphold the Conspiracy theory: they argue this is a manmade virus, sent from the US to China, with the malevolent purpose to disseminate it all over the world, so that after the shock an economic boom may happen, like after the World Wars. After all, they say, wars today are fought in different ways, such as cyber and pandemics… and by the way, add these knowledgeable people, the pandemic will eliminate a great part of the older population, thus reducing high social security costs. As you may see, all sorts of horrific stories are emerging, but they cannot mask the stark truth that countries, and citizens, are facing a daunting challenge, fighting a true battle no one knows exactly what the outcome will be. Someone said a few days ago “we are at war”, and it never looked more like it.

 

Today, the number of infected people went up to 642, with another death. I read somewhere our Prime Minister says the peak will be reached in late April, with cases reducing in May. If only I could believe it, it would be a tiny ray of hope in the darkness that surrounds us.

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