At the risk of jumping on the bandwagon to bore everyone with my 2 cents worth here goes nothing.
For weeks and months now we’ve all been following the news online and on social media. A pandemic is underway. The Corona Virus otherwise known as COVID-19. For weeks now we’ve read articles about the virus, laughed at silly memes about corona.
We’ve seen how China clamped down and declared a disaster and the world watched in astonishment. Following this crisis closely to see where it is headed. We’ve watched Italy close their borders, France following suit. We’ve watched YouTube clips of Italians sing from their balconies to show support and unity even in their enforced quarantine. It might have brought a tear or two for this stark but sweet reminder of the dire situation they find themselves in. I’ve consoled myself that there is not much one can do except to provide emotional support and uplifting messages from afar. I’ve consoled myself that we’re still ok. Even when the Australians were fighting about toiletpaper I didn’t panic.
I haven’t thought about it much from scanning the main headlines daily and whatever I read on social media (and I take that with a pinch of salt at the best of times), but I did notice the peaked interest among the expat ranks in Mauritius this past weekend when South Africa declared a state of national disaster. Of course the fact that our daughter and the rest of our family is still in SA definitely played a role in my newfound passion reading all I can find on the virus. I noticed the question asked over and over why Mauritius haven’t acted as well. Great speculation as to HOW NOT EVEN ONE CASE of Covid-19 has been diagnosed on Mauritian soil yet. A question which I think we now regret asking as our brief period in la-la land has swiftly come to an end last night when the news hit social media that not ONE but three Corona cases have been diagnosed and been sequestered in isolation.
This morning saw quite a bit of mayhem going on on our rock. One positive was that traffic was almost non-existent on our way into Port Louis this morning as all schools and tertiary educations institutions etc has been closed until further notice. My son woke up to more than a 100 messages on their group chat confirming the immediate cancellation of classes. This fact unbeknownst to his mother (me) who thought he’d slept through his alarm and stormed into his room waking him from his sleep unnecessarily……I did apologize I promise.
Following this I checked my phone which by that time was exploding with messages about the announcement from the government regarding the virus and the safety measures being implemented with immediate effect. Schools closed, flights canceled (well more flights than the initial flights that were canceled already over the last few days). According to the article pertaining the Prime Minister’s address to the nation in the LEXPRESS, from the 20th of March (tomorrow) no more commercial aircraft will be allowed to land and as a result Mauritians and tourists alike are banned for the next 14 days. Things were getting serious! Still it did not really sink in.
To tell the truth, during the course of today I didn’t have much time to think about how the situation is going to impact on our lives. I spent most of my day assisting hubby to get the boat ready for departure as they were pressed for time to get the boat out before they could be refused departure by the coast guard to leave the port. We managed to get them out in time! Only just! In my opinion they are better off than us staying behind on the island. A fishing trip for our bread and butter but also a sort of self-imposed 18 day quarantine.
The implications of Covid-19 virus hit me a bit harder when I entered the supermarket this morning. Simla’s was packed. The normally empty supermarket was overflowing with people. No parking outside. Not a shopping trolley in sight. People milling around grabbing whatever they can off the shelves. Having experienced a bit of the same at the local Intermart in the preperation for cylone Herold earlier this week I sort of knew what to expect but still my heart sank in my shoes.
Part of my helping hubby to prep for their fishing trip is to do the food shop for the boat on the day of departure. An outing that entails a shopping list of note, 3 trolleys filled with everything from rice to toilet-paper, only six packs for 18 days as hubby is the only one that uses it. The Mauritians and Indonesians are well versed in the using of the little tap next to the toilet that you find everywhere on the island. We also have that little tap in our house….one of these days I might actually have to consider using it if we really run out of toilet paper. 🤐😅
This shopping trip is not for the fainthearted and this morning I realized how reliant we are on fully stocked shelves and fridges, fresh fruit and vegetables and yes, even toilet-paper. Needless to say, my normal two hour shopping trip done and dusted in one shop on a quiet day took me about 5 and a half hours negotiating the craziness caused as well as including having to drive to yet another shop to fill our list. We were very blessed as we managed to get all the items on that very long list, except for the flour. I’m going to neglect to mention I forgot to buy some at the second shop….. Deny deny deny… 😂 Staples was the first to go I noticed, pastas, flour and frozen vegetables are what I missed on the shelves first.
Trying to negotiate an overfull shop with 3 trolleys braving accusatory stares as to the amount of food and other items we were heaping in the trolleys I became aware of how vulnerable one becomes in a situation like this where people feel threatened by the the perception of lacking of something or another. Lack of trolleys, lack of produce, lack of food, lack of money. Irrespective of what they lack, human nature feels threatened by what cannot be controlled and our behavior changes immeasurably. This morning I took photos and I saw photos that other took of shops filled to the brim. I read a Facebook post where someone I know attested to the fact that a man fought her for the trolley at the store. This is not normal behavior in a country where you find some of the kindest and most docile people you’ll ever meet. This morning I saw people putting in their trolleys whatever they deem necessary to survive the coming weeks. Some items don’t make sense to you and me but to them it is the difference between surviving or not. Live and let live is my motto. With the plentiful professional and laymen’s opinions out there in the cyber-world of whether this virus will or can cause my death or not I’m hesitant to judge too quickly. I did question my sanity in entering supermarkets with half the island population around me and not wearing a mask of sorts breathing in all sorts of nasties I’m sure. My handsanitizer worked overtime as I squirted some on my hands every few minutes. I marveled at how soon I stressed about my vulnerability, after all, who thought last night that we might need a mask to go shopping today. I surely didn’t, we were expecting, yet not expecting Corona on the island for weeks now. And when it arrived we acted all surprised and outraged.
Hubby experienced much of the same mayhem in the pharmacy that he visited for medical supplies and medication for their trip. Queues out the door snaking down the pavement, almost reaching around the block. Unlike South Africa where some painkillers and other non-prescriptive drugs can be bought off the shelves, Paracetamol and any other painkillers and or medicines need to be requested at the pharmacy from the pharmacist. He stood in the queue for a really long time only to be rationed on the amount of supplies he’s allowed to purchase. Even though he could prove it is for the crew of his boat he was only allowed a certain amount of pills. He’ll have to make do with what he managed to get. Hopefully they will be OK not being being in contact with other people in the next 14 days.
The moral of the story is that we all do what we think is needed, however we can, with what we can, in the current situation and everyone’s reality differs. My heart goes out to the plenty that cannot afford to prepare for this crisis whether it be that they have no funds or access to shops and produce.
This is my humble account, sharing my views on what will forever be known as that day in history where our island was shut down due to a very contagious disease. I arrived home this afternoon and as I finally got to sit down and relax after a very hectic and stressful day; it hit me. We are officially in quarantine mode. Self isolation. No friends. No family. Just the X-man and myself. Hubby at sea for 18 days, the girl-child in SA scuttling between her boyfriend and our family. It hit me, I am on an island. We’re not going anywhere soon. Our family not in one place. One on a boat and the other on another continent. Nothing we can do about it.
We’ll have to wait it out and see what happens. Immediately the streets are emptier. The neighborhood quieter. The phone buzzing with corona virus jokes and memes. Our way to cope with the stress of life. Human nature. if you can’t beat it, write a meme about it.
Keeping one’s sanity is going to be the name of the game, but try and find things to keep yourself busy. Catch up with your family and friends on Skype or Whats-app Video call. Put the electronics away and connect with the people in your home. Cook, bake, play games. Go for a walk. Read a book. Learn something new. I think the pool recliners and my book is looking pretty good just about now if this awesome weather keeps up.
Apart from everything else I’ve said in here all that’s left to say is, be safe. Take care. Don’t buy all the toilet-paper, leave some for the rest of us. 😉 If you can, support the move to self isolate so we can break the chain of the virus spreading.