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  • shannanmanton

That Pandemic Life

Today I just want to put some context and feelings about the current COVID-19 pandemic. Hopefully, future-me can read this and go "wow, those were crazy times, glad that's over".

Cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus) were first identified in Wuhan China in December 2019 and we had a case here in Australia by 25 January. There are currently 470 cases here (including Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson - sorry!).

I have work colleagues in Asia who were in lock-down back in February, as well as clients in the cruise industry, so I have been aware of this virus since the beginning. I also follow Kate Langbroek on social media - she's an Australian radio host currently living in Italy who has been documenting school's closing, red zones then the lockdown of Italy as things progressed.

But it's still shocking when things hit close to home and your own life starts to change.

Since the first week of March, the toilet paper/tissue aisle in the supermarket has been empty. Sometimes the shelves are well stocked with everything else, other times not so much. Today I couldn't get flour or yeast but I got everything else (and more) on my list. I'm trying not to hoard or panic buy but it's stressful not being able to trust we'll be able to get everything we need.

From today, most things are limited to two only (exceptions are fresh fruit and vegetables, milk, confectionery, pet food, soft drink) so hopefully that will help keep things available for everyone. There have been news reports of physical fights in the supermarket and we now have to have signs about being kind and courteous (especially to supermarket staff). As a first-born rule-follower, I'm actually fine with rationing - I am NOT the person who will fight you for the last box of tissues, please just take it.

I'm a Twitter and news obsessive so I've been seeing things progress around the world (I'm someone who feels less anxious with more information). Overnight it was advised that all Australians overseas should come home and they will be required to do 14 days of home isolation (my mother-in-law arrived back yesterday from Chile after an aborted cruise holiday). Police checks and hefty fines are in place if you don't do the isolation. They also announced that our foreign minister tested positive after spending time at the White House last week.

As of now, our public schools are all open. A lot of people are unhappy about this but the rationale is that closing schools is a big call economically and there isn't evidence that keeping kids out of school will affect the spread. Yesterday my boss told me to work from home so I'm home today. I work in the city and have to take the train so I'm happy to be here instead. Our transport minister says to try and use public transport outside of peak times, but that just wasn't feasible.

Personally, I would feel relieved if school was out right now, but I am one of the lucky ones who can work from home (my husband too). Not everyone is in that position - I know many people who work jobs that can't be done from home so who will take care of the kids? And if you can work from home because you lost your job, how to you feed those kids?

Things are changing daily, hourly really.

So here we are.

Stay safe friends. Do whatcha gotta do.

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