My quarantine tips

Wow. Just wow. The tide has turned and while in China (well, outside Hubei province at least) we are slowly getting back to normal, Europe is now at the center of the pandemic and the US will get there soon. I was definitely not expecting to see so many cases and deaths in Spain, but when the north of Italy was put into lockdown I did think about a Spanish proverb that can be translated as “when you see something happening to your neighbour, start getting ready”. Unfortunately, Spain did not start getting ready and will probably surpass the current Italian figures in a couple of weeks. As of today, Spain has almost 10,000 confirmed infections (who knows what the real figure is, considering all the people that can be infected but show no symptoms and are thus not tested) and 342 deaths have been linked to coronavirus. In the Chinese province I live in, Jiangsu, we had 631 confirmed cases and 0 deaths. Jiangsu has a population of 80 million. Spain has a population of 47 million.

My home country is screwed.

A sea of red. Screenshot from coronavirus-map.com

 

In Spain, schools in several provinces were shut down a week or 10 days ago but, based on what friends have been telling me and what I’ve read on the news, that didn’t hint people that they were supposed to stay home. Parks were full of children playing and people from Madrid, the worst-hit city, were driving to their apartments on the beach as if this was a holiday. There was even an 88 year old man who went to hospital in Madrid and was told to quarantine at home. Instead, he decided to go to a seaside town with his wife, visiting the mall there and then he went to the emergency room of the local hospital. Finally, last Friday, the state of emergency was declared and people were confined at home on the weekend. There’s only one problem though: many people still have to work (including a lot that work in industries which I wouldn’t consider essential) and yesterday, Monday morning, the subway was extremely crowded. The virus must be super happy with this nonsense logic. Also, let’s not even mention the hoarding of toilet paper…

As per the current numbers, basically the whole world should be trying to stay home as much as possible and practise social distancing. As I have a bit of experience in being confined, as we just went through it in China, I will share what we’ve been doing here in case it can help people in other countries.

  • Stay home. Contrary to what most people seem to believe, China was not on compulsory lockdown anywhere except Hubei province and a few other cities that had an explosive growth of cases at the beginning, like Wenzhou. Staying at home was only an official recommendation that everybody followed. Many places of recreation, tourist attractions, restaurants and even malls were closed, so people wouldn’t have anything to do outside anyway. The only place to go was the supermarket.
  • Work from home if you can. For me this was easy as I always work from home! In my husband’s company, people were working from home for two weeks and then went back to the office. They are still wearing masks while working. In western countries, the use of face masks has not been recommended and anyway it seems they are completely sold out anyway. For people that needs to keep going to work, I would suggest keeping a safety distance of 1.5-2 meters between one person and another (hard to do that on a crowded subway, though) and, while having lunch, avoiding chatting and keeping also a distance.
  • Avoid touching your face when you are not at home. This is easier said than done. I would always get an irresistible urge to scratch my eye, nose or ear when I was in the supermarket.
  • When coming back home, wash your hands immediately, hang your coat on the balcony if you have one and use rubbing alcohol to wipe anything you touched when entering (the door handle, your keys, maybe even your phone).
  • Be especially careful when you have to touch things that many people have touched before, like buttons on an elevator. You can use your keys or your elbow instead of your finger.

 

You can also read an account of my quarantine days that was published in the Nadja website. I wrote it the first week of March, before the situation in Spain exploded.

Stay strong and take this chance to do things you usually don’t have time for!