People Around The World Share Stories Of How COVID-19 Has Affected Their Lives

People Around The World Share Stories Of How COVID-19 Has Affected Their Lives
Trip101 Editorial
Trip101 Editorial 

At the dawn of 2020, when the whole world was bringing in the New Year, rejoicing, living it up, hoping this year, this new decade, will bring more happiness, prosperity, and abundance to their lives. While that was going on, China was already fighting a ‘lurker’ that had no intention of backing down. The severity and graveness of this novel virus was yet to be determined. By mid-January, the whole world got to slowly open their eyes to the dangerous disease that had taken Wuhan, and then Central China by storm – Coronavirus.

Today, when we kick-start the month of April, the only ‘April fools’ joke is on us. Plenty of nations all across the globe are going through some of their darkest days and dreary nights. Governments are trying hard to keep a tab on the world affairs, hoping they get a clue from other nations to help them do better, while also trying their best to cope with this unfathomable monster that has now stopped lurking, and started rearing its ugly head for the whole world to witness. Healthcare workers, police, the army, municipal workers, shopkeepers, grocers, and many others are tirelessly and selflessly working to make other’s lives a bit easier.

Globalization has never been this apparent as it is today. Someone has a story to tell, someone has a life to live amidst the chaos, and someone has some lives to save, while most of us need to stay home to dampen the trajectory of the curve this virus has been taking. Here are some people around the world sharing stories of how COVID-19 has affected their lives.

?? Australia

Sunset at Circular Quay, Sydney, Australia

Amit Karmakar

Amit is a senior Business Analyst in the education sector, based in Sydney.

Up until the middle of March 2020, I was still going in to work but the risk of COVID-19 has been escalating throughout Australia and particularly through Sydney as its the biggest commercial and financial hub of Australia. During the third week of March, we were asked to work from home and see how this goes, and if work can be remotely done, that we should try making this work. In the subsequent week, a huge effort was made by the NSW government and people were urged to work from home. I am very lucky that all of my work can be done over the internet as long as I have a stable connection. So this didn’t really affect my work. I now go to work once every 8-9 days because it is a relief to be away from home, but going around the city at the moment feels very unreal. I had tentative travel plans to Singapore in July, but its all up in the air now. I think the world needs to normalize and life needs to come back to normalcy for everyone’s safety, especially people in their 60s and above.

Sydney feels like a different place now. I have never seen Sydney so quiet on a weekend. It reminds me of how it felt like back in 1999/2000 on Sunday nights when no one went out after 6pm. Except its like this since March all the time. People are starting to understand that bigger things are at play here and that we are all connected. Mother Earth is healing after decades of being misused by humans. We forget that we need mother nature to survive. The global air pollution is down by 60%, the grass is growing, lakes are beaming with fish and plants. The skies are cooler and the morning sun has a soft winter-like feeling. A lot of office meetings are being held by online apps like zoom, Skype and it’s making the world more internet-friendly, in a good way. People are starting to realize we do a lot of unnecessary things. We can all live small and have a smaller carbon footprint for a healthier planet.

I’m very grateful for my life. For my job, the friends I have, the unfailing love of my partner and the love I hold for him. I count my blessing every night and every morning that I have so much to be thankful for. I live in a country that is far from war and hunger and has enough medical facilities. I’m grateful that I have a healthy body and mind and that I give more than I take.

Greatest takeaway from the COVID-19 pandemic
Life can be fickle and temporary. Let us make our good memories count. Live your highest truth, be kind and accepting of others, even if they don’t share your values. Now is the time to walk the extra mile to share your life of plenty with others. Sow kindness. Every human journey has a beautiful story to tell, remain open to receive these surprises in your life.

Words of encouragement for victims of COVID-19 and healthcare workers who are battling the virus everyday
Do whatever it takes to stay healthy and keep a positive mindset at all times. Especially now. Remember - “Your fears are just fears and your doubts are just doubts. When they visit your mind, remain calm so they move on. Calmness is power.”

Alvin Toh

Alvin is a Singaporean currently working as a chef in a cafe in Sydney.

My company has been trying to shift its sales online without much success. They have also extended the operating hours for food delivery such as Uber Eats. My daily work entails packing food for retail sales and preparing takeaway orders. I am fortunate that my work shifts have not been greatly affected in comparison to other people. In general, people are wearing masks when they go out, despite there being only a few people are on the streets. People panic buy, and essentials at supermarkets are constantly out of stock.

I was originally planning to fly back to Singapore for a short visit and then flying to Melbourne for a dance project. However, that is rather impossible at the moment with the lockdowns and travel bans happening. All in all, this pandemic has made me realize how fortunate I am and to remember to count my blessings and to be grateful always.

Greatest takeaway from the COVID-19 pandemic
When something terrible happens, people wake up and start doing what is right. And also on the other spectrum, people are self-preserving.

Words of encouragement for victims of COVID-19 and healthcare workers who are battling the virus everyday
Hang in there, the worse will soon pass and we will all be stronger and more resilient.

Paul Fabian Cordeiro

Paul is a professional dancer, choreographer and fitness and yoga instructor who has been living in Sydney for the last thirty years. He runs classes and workshops at dance studios and fitness centers.

As Australia feels the effects of the COVID-19, self-isolation and social distancing is rapidly upon us as we separate to keep ourselves safe. We are emotionally scrambled, my industries and my career, all have relied on the facet to face classes, private lessons, and workshops.. which in one swoop shut down, and any means of earnings evaporated. It’s been a tide of mixed emotions washing over colleagues, friends, and family. On top of that, I am wondering how we are going to pay rent or even buy food in a few weeks. A fortnight ago, I had never heard of Zoom online conference video meetings as I sat in a park feeling bewildered and sad. I realized how fortunate I am, I have the ability to work or find opportunities that may arise, and I am healthy. Gratitude is a grounding part of resilience.

I do however feel fortunate to be living in a first-world nation. The government, like many others, has to take care of its citizens, so financial support is available. Being a dancer and artist for most of my life, I have survived rather frugally. This past Tuesday, I woke up with a strange realization… I had nowhere to be again, and in fact, it is so for the foreseeable future. So as I have often done, I am living in the present. Now is the time for more compassion, patience, and most of all lack of expectation! However, I don’t mean to be passive. A creative mind is a good and healthy mind.

We are not in full lockdown yet, although that seems imminent. So I sometimes go out on my bike to the local park and do some yoga and ballet exercises, and see dogs alongside their owners. Yet there are still people not taking notice of social distancing as you see small groups of friends gathering. Now it’s a law, and you can be fined. We do need to adhere and it’s not forever. There will be a turning point.

I don’t know anyone personally who has had the disease, but my friend’s sister in the Netherlands contracted it in her town. She isolated with her husband and children. However, when one of my friends called his parents, they said that it was his sister’s birthday, so they were going to visit because they had had flu shots. But my friend told them to stay put! I feel like people still don’t understand the danger, and others don’t feel like it will affect them, especially in their twenties and thirties. I have friends who are doctors and nurses as well as those working on the frontline, but even government workers manning phones, social welfare workers, and other professionals are feeling the full force and impact. People are losing their businesses, homes, and that includes my family.

I think one of the things that it will force us to do is to look into the proverbial mirror and to societally look at our reflections. What will this new world be like, and will this wave of forced inward reflection be enough to change it?

Greatest takeaway from the COVID-19 pandemic
I can understand that we are all confused and maybe even desperate, but I am also astounded at how quickly we turn to panic and selfishness. People are dying, suffering, and it has sent economies into a spin. Nobody wants to get sick or see anyone they care about suffer, or die. However, most people in the world will be fine. I am not being smug or trivializing the magnitude of how our lives have changed, but this will pass. The sun is still shining.

This disease doesn’t discriminate between rich, poor, black or white, Christian, Muslim, Jew or atheist. The one thing I can say is that I, being a spiritual person, am not looking for an answer from another realm. I am dealing with it as it unfolds.

?? Brazil

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Natália Cagnani

Natália is a freelance writer based in Brazil.

A few months ago I started working remotely. When I think about it and look at what’s going on all over the world, it’s good to know that I can work from home. Since the first cases started to pop up here in Brazil, some things have changed. I live in Santa Catarina, where quarantine measures were taken to avoid the spread of the coronavirus inside the state. People are advised to stay home and only go out if necessary. Shopping malls and schools are closed, only the essential services are still open like supermarkets and pharmacies. Public transportation has also stopped. We’ve been like this for more than a week already and it might be extended until April 8th, for the time being. I only go out to buy fruits and vegetables, the basics.

The environment is a little awkward when you go outside. You can feel the tension, maybe not only due to the virus itself but also for not knowing what’s really going on. Many are using gloves or masks and avoiding any contact with others. Some places are limiting the entrance of people to avoid big agglomerations and using alcohol-based hand gel to sanitize everything. For now, any kind of food on the shelves, eggs, toilet papers, or wheat flour is available. Only sanitizers and vitamin C-based goods are running out of stock in some pharmacies.

Despite these uncertain times, we have to move on, right? And I think we’re good at doing this. So once we adapt to our new routine, with everybody’s efforts, the days will just fly until we’ll finally be able to open our doors again to receive friends and family.

Greatest takeaway from the COVID-19 pandemic
As a global situation like none else, at least to our generation, I thought that maybe people would look out for the others. But when you see medicine, masks and other things running out of stock, it doesn’t seem like this pandemic is awakening the spirit of solidarity. That could be a great lesson for everybody, especially when we think about healthcare workers who are risking their lives to take care of others. I feel like people here in Brazil are divided when they should be together. Some want to stay home, others would like to return to work and their normal lives to gradually keep the economy moving. It’s like a battle between the economy and health to see which one is more important. At the same time, it’s understandable somehow. After all, we don’t know what’s really going on around the world, do we?

Words of encouragement for victims of COVID-19 and healthcare workers who are battling the virus everyday
I hope that everyone stays strong, healthy and lives a happy life from now on. That whoever is suffering because of the virus gets well soon and returns to their families even healthier than before. That all the healthcare/frontline workers save as many lives as they can, with all the resources they need and take care of themselves to stay healthy too. May the health be with all of you! Take care.

?? Chile

Torres del Paine National Park, Chile

Arakita Rimbayana

Arakita has been traveling since September 2018 and is based in Santiago, Chile now as a freelance writer and translator.

Just recently, Chile applied a total lockdown on Santiago. This means that I’m ordered by law to stay home. As a freelancer, I’m lucky that I can work from home. In fact, I have been working from home even before the COVID-19 struck.

Before the total lockdown, there were fewer people on the street. People are aware of the dangers surrounding COVID-19, but some seem like they couldn’t care less. Now, seven districts in Santiago are in total quarantine. No one is allowed to leave unless they work for the service and health sector. However, supermarkets and pharmacies are still open through the delivery service. Some people are allowed to go out with a time-based permit given by the police. Overall, I feel safe and everything is under control. The only worry is having to leave the country once my permit expires. Most countries in South America have closed their borders. I’m scheduled to leave Chile, onto Colombia in May. I may not be able to if this lockdown remains.

For anyone whose country is at the early stage of this pandemic, please do not panic buy or hoard anything. There are people who need those items more than you do. Everything will be restocked and people are working hard to facilitate us. Help them help you.

Greatest takeaway from the COVID-19 pandemic
We are responsible for our own safety. We cannot rely on other people and blame them for whatever happens to us. However, we cannot be selfish either, because the smallest things we do might affect a lot of people.

Words of encouragement for victims of COVID-19 and healthcare workers who are battling the virus everyday
Every day is a new day. Every day offers a new challenge. Keep tackling those challenges one by one, day by day. And soon you’ll be standing on top of this steep hill where you can look back and finally breathe. Yes, the climb is tough but we’re in this together. We’re climbing together. We WILL get there!

?? China

Great Wall of China, China

Jing Wen

Jing Wen is a Singaporean student currently taking her undergrad studies in Shanghai, China.

I was back in Singapore for winter break during January and school was supposed to start for me at the end of February. However, due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the Chinese government had decided to shut down all schools around the country until the situation improves, so I had to cancel my flight back to Shanghai in early February. Fortunately, all students were able to resume classes online at the start of the semester, and ever since then, my bedroom has been my makeshift classroom where I attend all my classes from Monday to Friday at the same time I would if I were in Shanghai. It took a little more time for us, as well as the teachers, to get used to using the online platforms for lecture recordings and livestreams, but it’s all working well now.

Aside from the classes, all students are also required to fill up an online form daily, where we state our body temperature, address of residence, and stipulated time of return to Shanghai, so that the school can easily keep check of our condition and whereabouts. Just recently, China has banned foreigners with valid visas and residence permits from entering the country in an attempt to reduce the number of imported cases, which means me returning to China now is not even a choice.

Some of my travel plans were also disrupted. Firstly, I was planning to visit Fujian, China, in mid-February before school starts, but was forced to cancel my plans as the situation in China had worsened at that time. Secondly, my family was planning to visit my brothers who are studying in California and Washington in July, but we had to cancel the tickets that we’ve booked as the situation in the US turned from bad to worse.

Greatest takeaway from the COVID-19 pandemic
It’s quite amazing to see everyone coming together to battle the virus - it’s in times like these where you get to witness the strength and capability of a close-knitted society and an efficient government.

Words of encouragement for victims of COVID-19 and healthcare workers who are battling the virus everyday
I would like to thank all the frontline workers for putting their lives at risk to care for the COVID-19 patients - you guys are such brave souls! For those that are battling the virus, stay strong and be positive. Everything will be okay in the end.


Jiamin is a Singaporean student studying in Shanghai. She is currently in Yichang, Hubei.

The day after the Chinese New Year, a lockdown was imposed in my city. I remembered my cousin was very unhappy as he couldn’t go back to his maternal grandparent’s place located in the country (as in the village). Following that, the restrictions just got stricter as the situation worsened. At first, we couldn’t use the expressways to go out of the city. Then, public transportation stopped, and then, all roads were sealed. Post that, we could only walk to the supermarkets, because all the other stores were closed, including cinemas, restaurants and so on. Only one person from each family could go out once every three days to get essential supplies. When the first and only case was confirmed in my neighborhood, everyone had to stay in their own house and we couldn’t get out at all. Thankfully, the situation has gotten much better now, and we can go out with the health code. But as a foreigner, I can’t apply for that, so it’s a bit more troublesome for me.

School has been postponed indefinitely so I can’t go back to school. Also, during the epidemic in China, I didn’t go back to Singapore even with the evacuation flights because it was too dangerous to get to Wuhan to take that flight. Now, given that the situation in Singapore is worsening by the day, as well as the travel bans imposed on both sides, I think it is getting increasingly difficult for me to get back home. I just hope that the situation will get better soon and life will go back to normal.

On the bright side, I think life is slowly getting on track now. When I went out yesterday, I saw that many stores (about 50%) were open. However, there were still a few people on the streets compared to normal. We also have to get our temperatures taken before entering the mall and supermarkets as well as check our health code. Because I can’t apply for the code, I have to get a certificate of proof from the neighborhood executive committee. The proof is valid for a day, so I have to get a new one every time I go out.

Greatest takeaway from the COVID-19 pandemic
It is a painful reminder of how, no matter how powerful we humans think we are, a single disease can put the whole world at a standstill. It also shows how interconnected our current world is. No matter what we think about globalization, it is the fact.

I think that while the pandemic brings out the worst in people (like all the hoarding, socially irresponsible people who go out despite the situation, the inaction of governments, etc.), it also brings out the best of people (volunteers, frontline workers who are giving their all to better the situation, neighbors and folks who help one another and sacrificed their freedoms to stay at home). I think it is all these “best” things in people that makes the situation better.

?? Germany

Brandenburg Gate, Berlin, Germany

Hannah Eisenberg

Hannah is a travel writer based in Frankfurt, Germany.

While there have been quite a few changes and challenges, I’ve been very fortunate throughout this time. I live in a small town and work from home, so I didn’t personally experience a huge shift in my day-to-day life, which I’m so grateful for. I haven’t had to overhaul my daily work routine, although I have had to get used to having my husband work from home with me! It has been strange though to feel constantly tied to my house and to strategically plan each outing for errands like groceries or trips to the post office. While it’s been disappointing to cancel my travel plans, the hardest adjustment has been not being able to meet with our friends since Germany instituted a ban limiting groups over the size of two people. That said, I’m so grateful that I can keep in touch easily with my friends and family in England and the US through technology, and my husband and I are safe at home being well-entertained by our cats! We can also still explore the walking trails around my village, and enjoy the spring weather out of doors.

At the beginning of the month, it was harder to deal with, as there was so much uncertainty and guidelines regarding travel were constantly changing. My own community feels more settled now, and everyone is doing their best to practice social distancing. I had to cancel a trip I had planned for my birthday and decided to postpone an upcoming trip with my family in May.

Greatest takeaway from the COVID-19 pandemic
Despite the prevalent fear and anxiety, I’ve been really uplifted by the ways communities are coming together to help each other. From people singing from their balconies together to people going out to foster animals while they stay at home, it’s been really amazing to see how people are trying to spread goodwill and hope. I’ve also been astounded to see how levels of pollution have depleted around the world in areas of quarantine! I really hope that this makes the world more cognizant of humanity’s impact, and inspires us to better protect our environment.

Words of encouragement for victims of COVID-19 and healthcare workers who are battling the virus everyday
To those battling the virus and whose work is deemed essential, I just have to say thank you so much. We are in awe of your perseverance, selflessness, and dedication to keeping the world running smoothly for the rest of us.

?? India

Taj Mahal, Agra, India

Khushnuma Jabulee

Khushnuma is a content editor from Mumbai working at an online travel media.

It is safe to say that COVID-19 has disrupted the lives of many people across the globe. My state, Maharashtra, as well as my city, Mumbai, have been the most affected by this pandemic. My family comprises my older father who is a heart and diabetic patient, mother, who is on the older side as well, my brother, and I. We have been making sure that dad does not step out of the house. This has been the norm since Friday, 20th March. We do on occasion go down to restock our depleting supplies, though it is pretty hard to get them as most of the places remain shut around my area. Venturing further away from my block seems a bit dangerous as we do not have a car and public transport has been halted, including local trains. Luckily, since I work from home anyway, my work has not been impacted. My parents are retired, thus their work hasn’t been impacted either. My uncle, who has been in the hospital since 31st December 2017, on and off due to a massive stroke and resulting paralysis is still in the hospital. Luckily, his caretakers have been allowed to travel to and fro with a valid pass. Since my father needs medicines, we always stock up for a whole month, but this time it has been pretty hard to get medicines as well. No chemist is willing to send the medicines like they usually do. We might have to eventually venture out and get them for him and some of mom’s hypertension meds as well.

Living in my country is stressful as the cases have been on the rise. My city is one of the worst-hit ones in the country, therefore people have to be even more cautious. Citizens across the nation were addressed by the PM on the evening of 24th March when he declared a total lockdown from midnight of 25th March. Maharashtra, the state I live in was already under a lockdown since Monday, 23rd March, 6am. Local transport, including the heart of Mumbai, the local trains, have been shut for the citizens. People who serve in this need of the hour are made special passes for traveling in BEST buses and other transport mediums. It is hard to find shops selling bare essentials open. They are supposed to open on alternate days at specific times for people to come and grab what they need. This is mainly about my city. Different cities might operate differently during this situation.

To those who are breaking government quarantine and roaming around despite being tested positive, please realize that you are causing harm to everyone around you, and that includes your loved ones. You are one person, yes, but you will spread this to multiple people around you and then they will spread it, and this cycle will not stop. We need to break this chain of spread, and this should start from you. I know that it must be nerve-wracking and hard, but we will all get out of this one day. Remember, that people with underlying issues and those who are over the age of 60 might not be as lucky with their battles. So please, stay indoors or at whatever quarantine facility you’re at and get better. You will get better. Have faith.

Greatest takeaway from the COVID-19 pandemic
Since I have been dealing with anxiety disorder and depression since 2015, I have never taken anything in life for granted. With aging parents and family members passing away over the years, I always take each day as it comes. So I hope people learn to appreciate the finer things in life the way I have for years. I also hope people realize how important family is and spend quality time with their loved ones whenever they can. The only thing I miss a lot are my daily walks across the city which used to help me with fitness, sure, but also with calming my anxious mind.

Words of encouragement for victims of COVID-19 and healthcare workers who are battling the virus everyday
Everyone fights their battles differently in life. To the victims and the families, please hang in there. Times are dark and dreary now, but there will come a time where things will start looking better. You have to hold on to that concept. To those who are in pain because of this horrible virus, please try to look past that in some way. Think of a silver lining when you fight it. You are strong and brave and can get through life’s trials and tribulations. Think of it as a stepping stone, albeit a very hard one, to the next chapter in life. My favorite football club, Liverpool FC, has a song by Gerry and the Pacemakers called “You’ll Never Walk Alone” that goes: Walk on through the wind, walk on through the rain, though your dreams be tossed and blown. Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart and you’ll never walk alone. You’ll never walk alone.

To the ones who are sacrificing and battling the virus day-in-day-out, I’d first like to salute you and your bravery. It is never easy to put yourself in harm’s way for others, yet you so selflessly strap on your work-boots and head over every day. Whether you directly or indirectly help people, whether you are doing this for a few hours a day or have been working non-stop, you deserve my respect. Hopefully, after all this has blown over, when the world is in a better place, you get your dues, whether that is a huge raise, a long holiday where you can stay home and relax for a change or get honored as the heroes that you are by the government of the countries that you belong to.

Shruti Dugar

Shruti is an e-commerce manager and the owner of an offline boutique in Kolkata. In her free time, she also does freelance writing with Trip101 and British Herald.

On 24th March, our PM Narendra Modi announced a complete lockdown for 21 days, that will go on till 14th April because we are at stage 3 of the virus spread. Though all businesses have come to a standstill, our government is doing its best to combat it. Doctors, firefighters, grocery sellers and more are working while taking all necessary precautions. The measures are horrific but essential to take because the situation has become pandemic and out of our control.

My daily life has been severely affected because now I cannot go to my boutique nor can I entertain my online customers because all my inventory is in my boutique. For three days my internet was suspended so I could not even write articles for my freelancing jobs. I was also planning to go to Pondicherry on 28th March for a solo trip but it has been suspended.

I would like every one of us to be more considerate towards other’s problems (especially those who are slightly less privileged than us like housekeepers, domestic helpers, small business owners who survive on daily income). I hope we help them as much as possible during and after this pandemic subsides. And professionally I hope we get better opportunities considering the present times.

Greatest takeaway from the COVID-19 pandemic
I think the biggest takeaway from the COVID-19 pandemic is that the world is truly global. That even the slightest thing that seems to happen locally has the potential to affect and impact each and every living soul. We need to be more updated about what is happening around us and be alert. Taking this positively, I want to use this time productively and want to pursue things that I had been procrastinating about and stalling for the past few months. I am doing a few digital marketing courses and taking on more work to nurture my skills. Apart from that, I am spending time with my family. At 7pm every evening, I play chess with my father which is something a sort of activity for the brain because it helps you to stay focused and analyze things better.

Words of encouragement for victims of COVID-19 and healthcare workers who are battling the virus everyday
I would like to wish them the best of health and hope they come out of the situation as soon as possible. Though economically it will become harder to function in the coming months, I hope God gives strength to everyone to progress.

?? Indonesia

Candi Borobudur (Borobudur Temple), Indonesia


Janice (name changed for anonymity’s sake) is a content manager in a consulting company from Jakarta, Indonesia.

The government has currently implemented social distancing and work from home. The company I am working at is applying the work-from-home measure as well. Now, we try not to go out as much as before. we only go out to buy food and daily supplies. We cannot even go to church anymore. I was also supposed to travel to the US for a vacation in May, but now everything was canceled. Fortunately, I got a full refund for some flight tickets.

Greatest takeaway from the COVID-19 pandemic
We should treat our Earth better. The only one to blame for this pandemic is, in my opinion, the human race.

Words of encouragement for victims of COVID-19 and healthcare workers who are battling the virus everyday
Thank you to all the healthcare and frontline workers who have sacrificed their time, energy and lives to save the infected. Not everyone can be as brave and selfless as all of you.

?? Japan

Pagoda Temple and Fujisan

Katie Marple

Katie is an English teacher from the United Kingdom, based just north of Osaka in a town called Hirakata. She teaches and lives in an international shared community house where Japanese and foreigners live together.

I stay in a non-touristy area of Japan so we haven’t been hugely affected. Though many big tourist attractions like Osaka Castle are temporarily closed, quite a lot of entertainment centers are still open. But, generally speaking, life is as usual. I teach classes both inside our house and externally and so far the only classes that have been postponed are at the local elderly center. I live with a group of about twenty people, we all have our own rooms but also use communal spaces. A lot of people are still heading for work daily, although a few of my fellow residents are now working from home. We’ve put lots of hand sanitizer around the house and have posted signs on how to wash hands. We also have thermometers so people are regularly checking their temperatures.

However, I am really disappointed that my dad’s flight was canceled. He was due to come from the UK to stay for a month with me, but sadly, it just isn’t feasible anymore. It’s strange for me to be in a country that seems fairly normal (for example, last weekend I went bowling and had a picnic), whilst knowing that everyone in my home country is under much stricter measures. You know what they say though, all the best things come to those who wait. I’m waiting for that day to come where all these come to an end.

Greatest takeaway from the COVID-19 pandemic
I’m really happy to see all of the good stories coming out from this terrible pandemic. People clubbing together to care for the elderly, businesses allowing work from home, CEOs donating their own salary and more. For many people it might not seem like a silver lining, and that I totally understand, but I do think it’s an opportunity to shake some of the archaic systems we have in place and reinvent how we can all live much safer and happier lives as a community.

Words of encouragement for victims of COVID-19 and healthcare workers who are battling the virus everyday
To all the people that are being forced into a difficult situation or are voluntarily doing so, I would say ‘Stay Strong!’. The time will pass. I’m sorry for anyone, who along the way, has had a much closer connection to the effects of the coronavirus. Also, please remember your neighbors. Two weeks self-quarantine for a young person might seem a bit boring but for a lonely elderly person, it can mean life or death.

?? Kenya

Amboseli National Park, Kenya

Barry Juma

Barry is a writer and teacher from Nairobi, Kenya.

Our first confirmed COVID-19 case was announced on the 13th of March and, since then, the full scale of this pandemic became a reality to us in the country. Schools were immediately closed and public gatherings banned. Although people are still out and about, life has slowed down dramatically. Two weeks since the first case, the country now has 31 cases (at the time of the interview) and a 7pm to 5am curfew. Kenyans have been discouraged from traveling outside the country, unless for essential business. Still, with all international flights halted for a bit, the few who insist on traveling at this time would find it extremely difficult.

Right now, there’s a lot of tension in the country with everyone expecting the government to impose a total lockdown any time soon. Businesses are still running, albeit with caution, and there are still those who have to check into work. The news keeps referring to Italy’s situation and how we’re likely to suffer a similar fate so, as you’d expect, we’re all on edge.

Greatest takeaway from the COVID-19 pandemic
First, irrespective of race, social status, gender, etc, this virus reminds us that, as humans, we’re all the same and we’re connected. And as the virus does its ‘world tour’ it becomes increasingly apparent that we’re in this together; it’s not the problem of a select few. Second, I’ve learned that we need to do more to take care of our planet. Some people are saying that this is nature’s way of fighting back, and I agree. I’m hoping that, when we emerge on the other side of these, we’ll each make resolutions that support environmental conservation efforts because, when the planet decides to fight back, our intelligence and technological advancements won’t do anything to protect us.

Finally, we need to remember this experience and use it to re-evaluate our priorities as human beings. I think, our responsibilities as humans towards the planet are first and foremost. Today it’s a virus, tomorrow it’ll be another global disaster if we emerge from this the same.

Words of encouragement for victims of COVID-19 and healthcare workers who are battling the virus everyday
This is a war led, not by army generals and highly trained soldiers with firearms, but by health workers who put their lives on the line each day to control this unseen enemy. My prayers go out to you and your families each day. When this battle is won, it is you we’ll celebrate. To the victims and their families, it seems bleak right now but there is definitely an end to this chaos. Find peace knowing that there are hundreds (maybe even thousands) working tirelessly to find a solution. For now, it’s a day at a time.

?? Malaysia

Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Rachel Yeoh

Rachel is a freelancer writer based in Penang, Malaysia.

Our country declared Movement Control Order on 18th March 2020. It was supposed to be 2 weeks, up until 31st March, but it has now been extended until 14th April. So we can’t leave the house unless it is to get our daily necessities. Security is getting tighter by the day. Some parts of Malaysia have been declared a red-zone and a total lockdown is implemented for two weeks. The police and army are deployed to ensure people are out just to get the necessities. There are volunteers feeding the homeless and sanitizing the streets.

Greatest takeaway from the COVID-19 pandemic
Never take anything for granted - I really can’t wait to be able to devour banana leaf rice, char koey teow, and Thai food once the MCO is over. At the same time, how important it is to keep a positive mindset, to be the encourager and not one who is blowing news of gloom and doom. Healthcare is a basic human right, governments should make healthcare accessible to all. A life should not have a price tag.

Words of encouragement for victims of COVID-19 and healthcare workers who are battling the virus everyday
To those suffering, thank you for being bold enough to seek medical attention despite the stigma people may throw at you. To those on the ‘battle-field’, thank you for being selfless during this time of need. For centuries, people have been fighting against people, for once and at last, we have heroes who are fighting for humanity.

?? Pakistan

Lake (jheel) Saiful Muluk, Kaghan Valley, Pakistan

Marria Qibtia

Marria is a Pakistani based in Asia’s bustling international city, Hong Kong, working as a freelance writer, blogger and columnist. She is currently in Pakistan.

COVID-19 has transformed my life in numerous ways, be it cognitively, emotionally or physically. When the virus broke out in full throttle, expanding to areas other than China, Iran and elsewhere, I was on a visit to Pakistan, my home country. Since the Pakistani government imposed a lockdown and suspension of international flights, I have not been able to move back to Hong Kong. Even when I do return to Hong Kong anytime, I will be placed on 14 days of self-quarantine following my arrival. The Hong Kong government has designed tracking bracelets that all flight members will be wearing following their arrival in Hong Kong. These bracelets will monitor your movement so as to prevent you from going out from your home for at least a period of 14 days after you land. A breach of quarantine entails 5 months imprisonment and a fine of 5000 HKD!

Despite being in Pakistan, at times I feel displaced here and miss my life and routine back in Hong Kong. That beautiful space was the first area I moved to with my husband after our marriage a couple of months ago. Hence, it has its own emotional charm and attachment for me. I was due to go back to Hong Kong after a short week trip to Pakistan. However, since the government has imposed a two-week preliminary lockdown in Pakistan that extends till 6th of March as of now and has suspended International flights as well, a return to Hong Kong anytime sooner does not seem possible.

Pakistan is in a harrowing state. What once bustled with life and vigor now gives off an eerie feeling of desolation and desperation. The streets are empty, the market places are completely shut off, the Jumah prayers cannot be offered in the mosques. With everyone wearing masks, be it cloth ones or surgical, the overall feeling is quite hard too process and understand. It seems as if the world has ultimately come to a standstill.

These vacant social spaces once bustling with vigor and life, do infuse one with a certain degree of trepidation and horror, reflecting on what the world has come to. At times I wonder the magnitude of the agony of those who barely speak of their afflictions, who consumed by their sorrow find it unable to voice them, and even if they do pluck the courage to say a word or two, they know they will never be understood well, for not many are there to heed to them. It is for you, yes you, I want to say, I see you, I hear you. It’s just a comma in our story, a continuation and not a full stop, certainly not a halt.

Greatest takeaway from the COVID-19 pandemic
I believe that this global pandemic has several lessons to impart. To value health at all costs and practice good personal hygiene, to cherish human relations and bondings, which constitute our essential support systems, to introspect and soul search on important areas of life such as humanity, our individual social responsibilities and the like, and to strengthen our spiritual aspects of life.

Words of encouragement for victims of COVID-19 and healthcare workers who are battling the virus everyday
Just hang in there resolutely. This will end. I promise it will.

?? Singapore

Singapore skyline during golden hour

Minami Yamashita

Minami is a Japanese working in Singapore as sales and partnership manager in an online travel media.

Following the government’s advice, we have to work from home. I still hang out with my friends during the weekends but we started to avoid crowded places such as small bars or clubs. However, it’s not too bad. We can still go out anytime we want and the restaurants and malls are still open. Most of the condos in Singapore have a swimming pool so I try to pretend that I’m on holiday during the weekend, sitting by the swimming pool. The government is controlling the situation well with transparent information. I am a bit worried about living here as a foreigner as it’s understandable for the government to protect Singaporeans first but so far there is no special measure for non-Singaporeans.

Due to COVID-19, I will have to cancel my trip to Sri Lanka in May and the trip to Japan in August for the Olympics! I was planning to attend a trade show in May in the US and a conference in July in Japan as well, but most probably they will be canceled. Furthermore, my parents are in their 70s with some health conditions. I wanted to have an option to fly back anytime in case something happens to them but I can not do that now, which makes me worry about them every day.

We might have to live with COVID-19 like influenza for the rest of lives, but I really hope things will be under control as soon as possible.

Greatest takeaway from the COVID-19 pandemic
The world is ready for war but is not for the pandemic. Most of the deaths in Iran, Italy or China maybe because of a lack of the medical supply.

Hakim Teo

Hakim is a Junior Content Manager at Trip101, based in Singapore.

While our daily lives in Singapore are not significantly affected by the pandemic, compared to harder-hit regions, we are beginning to slowly feel the accumulating restrictions as our government responds to the ever-increasing local COVID-19 cases. For instance, a law was recently passed on the 25th of March 2020 to temporarily close down entertainment, recreational and community centers around the city. Many local offices are also adopting work from home measures, to reduce the possibility of spreading the virus amongst colleagues. While most of us understand these changes, one cannot help but wonder if our daily lives might drastically change in the upcoming months.

Recently returned from a trip to Penang on the 17th of March 2020, right after the Singaporean authorities introduced a compulsory 14-day SHN (Stay-Home Notice) for all travelers (including citizens) who are arriving from ASEAN countries. I was handed the notice as soon as I approached the immigration counter, and was told to quarantine myself at home for the stated period. If you are like me, being given an SHN or quarantined for whatsoever reason, it is just as important to keep your mental state at an all-time high, alongside your physical health. Find things to preoccupy your time, and distract yourself from being cooped up at home, else you will be in for a rough ride. If you ever feel like breaking your quarantine order, just remind yourself that our frontline staff has probably been enduring this longer than you since the outbreak started. If they can do it, why can’t you?

Greatest takeaway from the COVID-19 pandemic
It would probably be on how lucky we are to have an advanced healthcare system in Singapore. The fact that we’re able to keep our numbers at a low quantity when compared to other countries is something that we should never take granted for.

Words of encouragement for victims of COVID-19 and healthcare workers who are battling the virus everyday
To play our part, even as an everyday citizen. It just takes one irresponsible person to break quarantine and we have a hundred new cases to deal with, which will exhaust both essential supplies and manpower. Coming from the healthcare industry in my previous job, I think there can never be enough heartfelt gratitude for our men and women on the frontline, putting their own lives and family at such risks so that we can safely go back to ours.

?? South Africa

Cape Town, South Africa

Demos Antypas

Demos is a freelance writer and indie game developer based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

It’s quite surreal seeing the streets so empty while all activity comes to a standstill. We are currently under a 21-day lockdown and there are travel bans in place.

Greatest takeaway from the COVID-19 pandemic
We shouldn’t underestimate this pandemic, and we can only minimize its impact if we comply with the current regulations set by our governments. It’s all too easy for most of us to become frustrated by having to stay at home all day, but we need to work towards the common good.

Words of encouragement for victims of COVID-19 and healthcare workers who are battling the virus everyday
I can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like for those that are suffering from the virus, and especially those that have lost loved ones. I can only encourage them to stay strong during these difficult times. The same applies to all the healthcare workers, who are putting up a heroic fight against COVID-19.

?? Spain

Tibidabo, Barcelona, Spain

Hanako Shimada

Hanako is working as a content and partnerships manager at Trip101 based in Barcelona, Spain.

Spain has been on lockdown since March 16th, initially for 15 days, and now it’s been extended until April 11th. What this means is that travel is banned between regions and people are only allowed to leave the house for groceries and a visit to the pharmacy. Now we are required to fill out a form on the government website every time we need to leave the house (we are not allowed to leave our postcode i.e. neighborhood without justification). This form only gets approved once every two days (to limit people from going out or going out without reason). It’s very surreal, usually, the streets are bustling with people and tourists and it’s a ghost town now. We have to line up in supermarkets and people on the streets are all in masks and gloves.

I also know of two people in Singapore who have COVID-19 after having just traveled to the UK (one is in quarantine and the other is in the hospital still). They’re both kept in isolation. Thankfully, they are only showing mild symptoms.

Greatest takeaway from the COVID-19 pandemic
Despite quarantine and isolation, community togetherness has never been so strong. In Spain, people quickly realized they should stay at home in order to flatten the curve and not overwhelm the healthcare services, so even though the quarantine was issued on March 16th, people started practicing social isolation from March 14th (when it was clear COVID-19 had gotten very serious in Spain). The community spirit in my neighborhood (and in Spain) has been fantastic. Every evening, at 20:00 we all go on our balconies to applaud the healthcare workers risking their lives every day during this pandemic. My neighbor hosted a little party for my street, he set up a DJ booth and played music for an hour on Saturday evening and all of us were out on our balconies drinking and dancing. It’s been really uplifting during this dark and uncertain time.

Words of encouragement for victims of COVID-19 and healthcare workers who are battling the virus everyday
For healthcare workers and key workers (i.e. postman, bin collectors, shop workers), everyone in the world sees you for the heroes that you are and really appreciate the sacrifices you make each and every day to fight this pandemic. Their bravery is commendable.

?? Thailand

Sunset at Doi Inthanon, Ban Luang, Thailand

Sangay Wangmo

Sangay is an English teacher in Chiang Rai, Thailand.

Currently, there is a routine requested by the government to stay home and try to avoid going out from 7pm to 7am. All the restaurants, coffee shops, bars, street food markets, malls, and massage parlors are closed, and the restaurants and coffee shops only do takeaways. The convenience stores are also open as usual. The malls have a limited number of entrances for thermal screening, and there are several stalls at the malls for takeaways. Many people stay home and order online, so Grab Food deliverers have been working constantly. By 8pm, the city becomes a ghost town.

My work schedule has been affected drastically for the last couple of weeks because the government declared that all the universities, institutions and schools to close immediately due to the rise of COVID-19 cases in Thailand. Also, I have been having trouble taking out time for my online writing job and meeting the deadlines.

It is devastating to witness people losing their jobs, children staying home, people unable to return home and having visa problems in a foreign land, and countries shutting their doors to each other. The airports are empty, masks have become a part of the body, and paranoia, racism, and stigmatization are filling social media. It is disheartening to see things change rapidly, but we have to adapt to the changes, live through it to survive it.

Greatest takeaway from the COVID-19 pandemic
In life, there will be many obstacles and challenges, and we have to prepare ourselves to tackle them with calmness and intellect. I have seen people believe in whatsoever they see or read on social media without checking the facts. It’s important to know what you are reading or watching, and not waste your time and energy on something that is not true.

Words of encouragement for victims of COVID-19 and healthcare workers who are battling the virus everyday
To those who are suffering from the virus, please don’t give up yet. You can help the people by fighting this and showing the world. We are all in this together. Please take care of your health and don’t let the virus take over you. Your immune system might have failed you, but your mind is still strong. Don’t be weak! Think strong, and you will be stronger. To those healthcare workers who are battling the virus, you are always in my prayers. Thank you for working harder and going the extra mile for us. You deserve our full support, and we will do our best.

?? The Philippines

El Nido, Philippines

Megan Flores

Megan is a content editor living a few hours away from Manila, the Philippines’ hectic, densely populated capital city.

Even before the COVID-19 situation, I was already working on a remote basis as a content editor. I live just a few hours away from Manila, the Philippines’ hectic, densely populated capital city. Spared from hellish commutes and crowding, I had a living and working situation that didn’t quite put me at much of a risk. So many others are not so lucky.

Though the Philippines had its first official case of COVID-19 back in January, the government only started scrambling to contain the disease two months later, when the number of cases had gone up. President Duterte announced a lockdown in Manila beginning March 15th, four days after the disease was declared a pandemic by the WHO. Just a day later, on March 16th, he expanded the “enhanced community quarantine” to the whole island of Luzon. We had all been watching the events unfold through the news reports, and bracing for the worst, but the lockdown was implemented so abruptly that it sent people into panic and shock. People had to make sure their homes were stocked up enough for at least a month after we were discouraged from panic buying and hoarding. People who still had to go to work sometimes had to walk for miles to get to their workplaces because public transportation was suspended. Suddenly we couldn’t do things we normally could, suddenly we couldn’t see our friends and family who lived away from us. What about those who didn’t have any means and were most vulnerable? We feared for them, too.

It’s impossible to live in my country as this crisis further unfolds and not feel any dismay or anger. In the Philippines, where a large chunk of the population lives below the poverty line, inequality has always been dire–but it’s never been more apparent for me than now. Daily, we see instances of government’s mishandling of the situation–over-militarization, red tape, misappropriated funds, misinformation, preferential treatment–all of which are symptomatic of a cruel and anti-poor system. The quarantine failed to take into account the poorest of the poor and continue to disregard them by not providing financial and social safety nets. All the while, the number of positive cases and deaths rise, and our medical front liners are increasingly overwhelmed–we’ve already lost a good number of doctors to the disease, and hospitals, which are already at their limits, have begun turning away patients. We have among the highest fatality rates in Asia yet our government still hasn’t prioritized mass testing, while politicians can get their test results in a day. I am one in joining the call to hold our government, and every government, accountable.

Since testing remains stalled in the Philippines, there are several cases where patients suspected to have the disease expire before receiving their test results. I learned about a friend’s parent who recently died without results. I’ve heard about another friend with a parent currently hospitalized for the disease. I have a symptomatic uncle who’s been turned away from a hospital and told to self-quarantine at home. I have friends working at the medical frontlines, whom I worry about every day.

With so much going on, it’s so easy to feel overwhelmed. I hope people won’t forget to look after one another, and when facing any doubts, always act as humanely as possible. This disease is weathering not just our health but our humanity, too. Each of us should do the best we can.

Greatest takeaway from the COVID-19 pandemic
I think what has been most poignant for me thus far in this time of crisis is the power of community. In the Philippines, we have a saying, “tayu-tayo na lang,” which roughly means, it’s all up to us–we’re responsible for each other. The COVID-19 crisis has brought this unprecedented anxiety and fear for what’s ahead, but it’s profoundly uplifting to see how people are banding together to fight it. Here and there, people are mobilizing drives and fundraisers for those affected and at-risk; people are volunteering what they can, from food and supplies, to actually fighting at the forefront. Crisis always seems to bring out the best and the worst in people. With our communities acting without putting their self-interest first, it’s clear that our leaders can still learn so much from our people.

Over the course of the pandemic, there’s been a shift in the way we work and live. I’ve heard the phrase “the new normal” thrown around many times. I think this situation has truly made us face certain truths, like how unnecessary and even unjust our systems are. I hope we see good changes in “the new normal.”

Words of encouragement for victims of COVID-19 and healthcare workers who are battling the virus everyday
I’m not sure if it’s my place to give encouragement to those who have become directly affected by the virus or those who are battling the virus at the forefront - I can’t imagine what these people are going through right now. I know that what’s happening isn’t right. I can’t even say things are going to go back to normal soon because we can’t be sure about that. But I can say, to look to others for strength. We’re all here for each other. As I’ve mentioned, tayu-tayo na lang.

Leonora Puno

Leonora is a freelance writer from Iloilo City.

COVID-19 has had a big impact in our lives. My husband is a taxi driver and has to stay at home since the enhanced lockdown. That means he will have no income during the whole period. In Iloilo City, only a few people go out especially during the curfew hours (8pm to 5am). A quarantine pass is given to each family and only one family member can go out to buy food and other basic needs. Malls have shortened the business hours while restaurants and fast food stores allow take out only. People caught violating the law are arrested and put to jail. We are instructed to stay at home so that the transmission of the virus can be halted and the enhanced quarantine or lockdown will be lifted. We try to stretch our finances until the end of the lockdown, which we believe is only for one month. However, there is always the fear that this would be extended, which means that we will have no more resources for our daily subsistence. We live in uncertainty during these times and we hope the lockdown would be lifted soon.

We do not travel frequently but because we have to pass through several checkpoints even when traveling to our hometown, we cannot visit our relatives anymore. Fiestas and other family celebrations that would mean a gathering of many people are banned. Since for Filipinos, these events provide opportunities for family gatherings, the ban has caused lots of disappointment. Some of my relatives who are scheduled to return to their work abroad were not able to go. The same is true with those people who are supposed to go home. We have lots of stories about people who lost their jobs in Manila walking home for days to be with their families in their provinces because there is no transport..

The discrimination for healthcare workers are real. In our region, there were four people were confirmed to have the virus, and they were admitted in one hospital here. It is very sad that once that hospital was identified, the staff experienced discrimination. Several were asked to leave their boarding houses. Sari-sari stores would not sell items to them. People would not go near them. Today, a building has been converted into a dormitory for health workers and they are given a means of transport to and from the hospital where they work. The hospital whose staff experienced discrimination decided to provide living quarters within the hospital itself.

Politics is always highlighted in the Philippines not only during elections but during calamities. We have heard of sacks and sacks of relief goods that never reached the recipients. Financial assistance took years to be distributed and usually at reduced amounts. I fear that despite the intention of the national government to help all Filipinos in this time of crisis, there will still be others who might prioritize their self-interest rather than helping their constituents. I hope that proper monitoring of the distribution of all the government assistance, in-kind or in cash, must be implemented. Lastly, my hope is to see all Filipinos survive.

Greatest takeaway from the COVID-19 pandemic
The greatest lesson I learned from this pandemic is that observing the laws implemented to safeguard people’s health is of utmost importance. We see how people from the most affected countries have taken for granted the seriousness of the COVID-19 and these countries were the most hit. Many Filipinos were considered to have over-reacted with people buying and wearing facemasks as well as using alcohol and other disinfectants. The fact that we are a poor country perhaps made us cautious about catching a disease that can land us to hospitals, that is, if we could afford it. If not, then, we could die at home.

Another lesson is that we must not assume something. We did not have testing kits in our city until a few days ago and people assumed there were no infected people. But in cases like this, assuming the worst is better. So we took precautions and perhaps, this minimized the spread of the disease. If you know that you are infected, let the authorities know and start isolating yourself from your family members. This is one way of protecting them from the virus. Being infected with COVID-19 is not shameful. Your transparency can save thousands of your fellowmen from getting sick and even from death.

We also realized the value of our health workers. In our country, nurses and doctors have been clamoring for salary increase for years. But they got less than what they were asking for. Our health workers are the front liners and it is a good thing that laws will be implemented on improving their pay and other benefits.

Lastly, I am happy to see the Filipinos’ old value of Bayanihan Spirit rise amid this crisis. Numerous private individuals have donated to help those who have less to survive the lockdown period. These people, along with the health workers, government officials, and other front liners who never hesitated to take the risk are the heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Words of encouragement for victims of COVID-19 and healthcare workers who are battling the virus everyday
I would like to give a big THANK YOU to the health workers who are the soldiers sent to fight in this battle. Despite the discriminatory treatment some of them experienced and the dangers that they have to face, they continue to serve their countrymen. To the victims of COVID-19 and their families, may you always stay strong.

?? United Arab Emirates

Sunrise shot of Downtown Dubai and Burj Khalifa


Pauline (name changed for anonymity’s sake) is an editor based in Dubai.

I applaud the local government here in the UAE for taking the necessary measures to curb the spread of COVID-19. Malls, shops, beaches, places of worship and restaurants closed down about a week ago. But the government has kept restaurant delivery services open because of the large expat population that lives in Dubai, many of whom live in shared accommodations and do not have access to cooking facilities. From the eve of this weekend (weekends are Friday to Saturday across the Middle East) i.e. 26th March - 28th March, there has been a nationwide curfew (8pm - 6am) where the local authorities have undertaken mass sanitization drives of the entire nation’s public areas, including streets, pedestrian paths, communities, storefronts, metro train services, etc. People found violating the curfew were to be heavily fined. Though movement is restricted, people are still able to walk around but only by maintaining a strict distance between each other. Metro trains have cut down their passenger-carrying capacity in order to help maintain distance between those traveling. All supermarkets and pharmacies are open and work tirelessly to ensure that residents do not run out of essentials.

There is limited mobility across the country but most residents feel that it’s a necessary step to help contain the spread of the virus. Schools have been closed for almost a month now and distance-learning has been implemented since the past week. Exams are canceled or postponed in most cases. Similarly, events and celebrations have been either canceled or postponed indefinitely. Since the UAE heavily relies on tourism, hotels, airlines and allied tourism industries are also suffering. But the local authorities are doing everything within their power to keep citizens, residents and stranded tourists safe. Unlike other countries, people did not go crazy with panic buying and almost everything is still readily available in the supermarkets and pharmacies.

When the COVID-19 outbreak peaked earlier this month (March), it was spring break time and most residents had planned their travels in advance, which had to be hastily cancelled. Plus, the sudden closure of borders meant that my husband had to rush back from seeing his ailing mother, be stranded in an indefinite lockdown or worse, at an airport. We had plans to travel in the upcoming Eid break (May 2020), but it seems like a distant dream now.

Greatest takeaway from the COVID-19 pandemic
Don’t take your health, family or friends for granted. Follow the instructions of the local authorities and don’t put the health of others at risk.

Words of encouragement for victims of COVID-19 and healthcare workers who are battling the virus everyday
This is probably the greatest suffering that all the people here, now, have ever seen collectively as a human race. And we are all in this together, fighting it in our own way, supporting each other and staying positive. Together, we can. We are all heroes - victims, their families, healthcare/frontline workers, those under quarantine/lockdown and ordinary citizens of the world.

?? United States of America

Sunset at Golden Gate Bridge

Catherine Kainer

Catherine is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles, California.

It’s unsettling that the United States is seeing more cases emerge and in the next few weeks, it’s expected to get worse. However, there are bright moments of kindness doing the rounds as well. An elderly couple was asked at the checkout by a grocery store clerk if they found everything they needed and they said they couldn’t find any bread. Immediately, a young man behind them offered the couple his bread and anything they might need from his cart. There are long lines at the grocery store and some shelves are empty at times. I am getting meals delivered via UberEats or Grubhub more than I ever have in the past. Weekends are trying because you can’t get out and play tennis because the courts are taped off. Other public spots are also closed like tourist attractions. Restaurants are only allowed for grab-and-go situations. We are under a shelter-in-place order so only necessary trips to get food or to the doctor’s are encouraged.

You can tell kids are out of school because you see a lot more drawings or positive messages on the sidewalks in colourful chalk. People in Los Angeles are taking this social distancing seriously for the most part with people giving everyone a wide berth when passing each other. They are also waving or saying ‘hi’ when they pass (instead of a hug or handshake). However, my sister’s friend’s nephew has COVID-19 and he’s not doing well at the moment since he is still young. The overall situation is concerning, to say the least.

Greatest takeaway from the COVID-19 pandemic
We need to be prepared. We have spent so much money and efforts making sure our military defences are ready (and that is important), yet here we are with our way of life, economic wellbeing, and much more disrupted and threatened by a virus.

Words of encouragement for victims of COVID-19 and healthcare workers who are battling the virus everyday
The world’s been through this before and survived and we will do it again. The crucial point that has been made - and it’s completely true - is that we must tackle this problem together. The situation also reaffirms the importance of science and listening to experts in this field.

Aaron Tan

Aaron is a PhD student in Stem Cell Biology & Regenerative Medicine in California.

COVID-19 has reduced movement through the cancellation of work from offices and labs to reduce community spread and work from home instead. “Shelter-in-place” for the entire state of California, started with five counties, of which Santa Clara was one. The scientific conference that I was planning to attend at Vienna, Austria, in March was cancelled. I am still waiting on the status and news of the International Stem Cell Research Conference (ISSCR) that is going to be held in June 2020 at Boston, Massachusetts.

I am currently back in Singapore and am really impressed with the response to contain COVID-19, more importantly from the recent surge in the majority of imported cases from the UK and US.

Greatest takeaway from the COVID-19 pandemic
This pandemic has once again shown us how devastating the possibility of zoonotic virus spread can be and how it can affect humanity globally. The greatest take-away for us is to limit wildlife hunting and wildlife trade for proper control of wet market facilities. Besides this, China should lift restrictions for communications to worldwide audiences. This is exemplified from the case of Wuhan doctor, Li Wen Liang who tried to warn the whole world about the COVID-19 virus, only to be punished by the government.

Words of encouragement for victims of COVID-19 and healthcare workers who are battling the virus everyday
I am appreciative of the courage, bravery, and commitment of healthcare workers and medical taskforce on the frontlines every day to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Countdown to better days

Corona Virus graffiti - save lives, stay at home
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Zakhx150 used under CC BY-SA 4.0

At the end of every dark tunnel, there is light. After every night comes the morning. After every winter, spring does bloom. So rest assured, after these sleepless days and burdensome nights, there will be respite. Our heroes will herald in a new time; a time where we will be free, a time where we will be able to walk out on our streets without abandon, a time where we will meet our friends and loved ones in person, a time when a deadly virus will just be a dreary tale of the past. Till that time comes – and yes, it will come – we need to hold on to the happier times in life while battling through these torrid days.

Remember to stay indoors and go out only when needed. Practice social distancing. Check up on your friends and loved ones often – the virtual world has paved the way for miracles in communication to take place. Keep your immune systems boosted. Work from home if you can and if you can’t, then take all the precautionary measures available. Do not listen to rumors or spread them. Always listen to the authorities and their rules, for they know what they are doing.

We are all in it together, through the good times and the bad. This bad time, unfortunately, is something we must all overcome with unity. So let us all get together and repeat – “THIS TOO SHALL PASS”.

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