Home alone – a pandemic diary (day seven – 17.03.20)

Yesterday I concluded I had a flat tire. My car had been issuing warnings about low pressure on tires and it was always the same one so I had promised myself the next time I would have to fix it. It was yesterday! Not really a good time to have a problem in your car so I had to fix it straight away. Fortunately, I was told to go to a place where they repaired it in half an hour, but it felt quite uncomfortable to be there. All the personnel were wearing protection masks and I heard one on the phone saying “Better come today, we are not sure we’ll be here tomorrow. Maybe we’ll have to close down”. I left, as soon as I could, happy to have solved the problem, disinfecting hands and car key and everything I could, and feeling the now usual heaviness in my chest whenever we think of this new reality we are going through.


Then  – as I was on the street – I passed by the grocery store to buy some fresh fruit and vegetables. It is a small shop and only two people could be inside at the same time, so I patiently waited for my turn, shivering in the most unpleasant cold wind.



Home, at last,  I washed my hands, disinfected my cell phone, the car key again as well as my home keys, and with some fury also wiped doorknobs and kitchen cabinet handles with disinfectant towels. Then, slightly reassured, I sat down to work.


When I work at home I usually work in my room, where I have a working corner with a desk and a bookcase. It’s a pleasant spot as it faces a window. However, in the morning my living room is very sunny, so I decided to take all the papers and the laptop (from work) there and work on the dining table. I opened the blinds and could see the river in the distance. Nearer, the rugby field, but as recent memories are not too good, I prefer to look beyond.


Working from home

So, I worked. And saw the news about what is happening around the world. I could not help noticing one piece of news about a Florida law firm that is seeking a class action status with the purpose of holding China responsible for the coronavirus sweeping America. Who would imagine? Another piece informed that hackers are sending phishing messages pretending to be from US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. No wonder ways will be found to take illicit advantage of insecure and scared people…



Most news is bad, such as the one about the Portuguese municipality of Ovar, in the centre of the country, that has had such an increase in the existing cases that it has been declared a calamity area in geographical quarantine. In Lisbon, several people I talked to today already have friends or relatives who are infected or under suspicion. Shopping malls are not closed yet but with reduced hours and restrictions to the numbers of visitors – not that there will have many, I expect – while IKEA have completely shut down their stores in Portugal. The number of infected people in Portugal is now of 451, and rising, and we have recorded the first death by Coronavirus, a man who apparently already had serious health issues.


The (scarce, but still inspiring) good news is that the UK has announced a strong package of financial measures to support companies and a biopharmaceutical company in Canada is working on a potential vaccine that will be tested on humans in the summer.


Phone calls

I talked to the boys, and they are okay, attending their classes online and studying; I spoke to several friends and they are all at home, avoiding going out as much as possible, and dreading what is to come. I confirmed some painting works that have been going on at my beach apartment (the timing couldn’t be worse!) will be over by the weekend so hopefully next week I can go there for some fresh air and also to be closer to the boys. We shall see.


The last call was to my dear friend Gaby, who, in her philosophical way, told me she is avoiding people and places, but there is something she cannot possibly avoid: having her haemodialysis three times a week. As she put it “Well, they say they are taking all precautions, but the medical personnel there work in other places too… We have to keep faith and hope for the best.”


My dear, brave, wise friend Gaby, you are right as always. There’s nothing else we can do; and I believe life will see us again together, on a terrace over the beach on a warm summer evening, drinking to life and looking forward to the future. Until then, my friend, we’ll have to endure as best we can. If only we could hibernate, and be called back to life when this is all over…

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