Coronavirus: How it will impact people, in their own words

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In this crazy, confusing, Corona time, the world has been forced into a situation none of us have ever seen in our lifetimes. For some, these next few months, as one BBC guest put it, may feel like ‘solitary confinement without having done the crime’. Yet we must all maintain optimism in the face of such uncertainty. Indeed, there are many instances of the world responding positively to such a dour situation.

Doctors, nurses and health care professionals are bravely continuing to work on the front lines, whilst the rest of us self-isolate. Amidst concerts being cancelled, artists are live-streaming shows from their homes, in the #TogetheratHome series. You can watch Chris Martin and John Legend perform all their greatest hits, with expected new entertainment from Miguel, Charlie Puth, Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello. Penguins are now able to roam closed aquariums freely, bookshops are delivering recommended books to doorsteps and Italians are singing and creating music in unison from their balconies. The world is adapting to life in isolation. It is now, more than ever before, easier to stay in touch with loved ones and share good news.

Others have offered their thoughts in how the Coronavirus has impacted them and will continue to do so.

Faye, Durham

It feels strange to be essentially quarantined to my house when I’ve seen no actual evidence of the pandemic – even newspaper headlines can’t seem to make the situation feel real. If the pandemic passes without anyone I know being affected (as I hope!), then I’ll have lived through it but not experienced it. I am, of course, worried about the uncertainty surrounding assignments and exams, but my main concern is to avoid killing my family members – being cooped up at home is less than ideal for the bickering types!

Tom, Loughborough

If you look at the picture of Italy before and after everyone went into self isolation, pollution went down massively. Now I’m working from home, I’m not wasting time travelling to and from work, which is about an hour each way, so I feel like I have an extra hour in my day to do things. I suppose the negatives are that, a lot of the things I do in my day, like going to the gym, or socialising, I now can’t do, so in reality, having that extra time isn’t a necessarily positive thing.

Meghna, Durham

Whilst introverts may be slightly more positive about the endless hours of isolation that appear to be on the horizon (an opportunity to catch up on sleep, Netflix and gaming), others of us might be dreading the idea of being locked inside and the uncertainty that has been looming with the current period. I happen to be amongst the latter of those – someone who loves the idea of spending a few days at home, but after that, am quite unsure of what to do with myself, especially considering none of us really know how long this will last.

Fully understanding the seriousness of the pandemic, I realise how important it is for us to stay at home, be safe, and most importantly, not put anyone else (those we live with or strangers outside) at risk. Having said that, I think most of us are now more concerned about our mental health, especially when we aren’t quite sure about how long any of this will last.

I think what’s probably the hardest fact to consider is that university shutting next term, and not really being able to travel around much, means that many won’t be returning next year. Not being able to celebrate with friends or say a proper goodbye, seems to have been missed amongst the rush of packing everything and posting endless train tickets on Overheard at Durham. With friends who will be graduating this year, and so many who are meant to be going on years abroad next year, it’s difficult to consider that the last week in Durham with them has just flown by without any of us realising it. It’s no surprise that we’re finding it difficult to stay positive in times like these, when everything seems so uncertain.

Student, UCL

Hmmm, well, I’m not really self isolating. I’m with friends right now, so I don’t think it affects me that much, except uni being cancelled.

Student, UCL

The good that I’m drawing out of the bad is that I now have uninterrupted time to work on my essays. Plus I think it’s giving all of us who are off uni a time to work on creative projects and other things that we usually wouldn’t have time for -it’s so rare to be given such a large amount of free time. Obviously the negatives definitely outweigh. I’m worried about my Grandma, I’m concerned about how long this will go on for, and, on a selfish level, my birthday is coming up so I might have to celebrate with friends digitally this year. But worrying won’t help the situation, so I’m staying positive and talking to friends and family as much as possible.

Student, Durham

I can now go home, read lots of books, spend time with my family and get better at certain skills, as I’ll have loads of free time on my hands. I maybe won’t do a lot of exercise as we can’t go outside. But I’ll be able to catch up on all my work and focus on bettering myself.  Negatively, it will affect me in many more ways. The biggest is that I probably won’t be able to go back to university, which is a place I love. I won’t be able to see my friends or make new friends. I also won’t be able to be part of the college community. Over Easter, I was meant to see my family, we were meant to see my Grandma for her 80th, that’s cancelled. I was meant to go see my cousins for a week, that’s cancelled. We are all trapped inside. We’re all slightly scared if the virus is going to reach us. I’m more scared of it reaching my grandparents, though, than it reaching me. As my grandparents suffer from poor health, the thought of them catching a virus that could kill them is very worrying.

Student, LSE

I’m much more productive now, as I’m working at home. I can go on runs. I’m at home with my family. Also, on a side note, burglaries might go down because everyone is at home, so it’s very hard to break in.

Amelia, Warwick

Well it was my birthday and I was planning on going on football tour but it got cancelled, and so that was hella sad. Also, there may be no term 3 which means people’s last sports night and sports balls may never happen. People haven’t properly said their goodbyes. My international friends I may not see for about 6 months, which is devastating.

Student, Durham

Over and above all the practical changes we will all have to make, I am most worried about my mental health. I can’t imagine what the effects of self isolation will be. Even though I’m not particularly sociable, I find occasional company necessary to make myself feel normal and healthy. I find the idea of revision without bouts of social activity terrifying. And I don’t see any evidence that the different environment will be taken into account. I am about 90% sure I will come out of this period depressed or crazy.

Benedict, Durham

Sadly my experience of isolation is going to be pretty grim. My father is old, overweight and has an underlying heart condition, so about as at risk as you can be, so every precaution is going to be have to be taken. Essentially it means at least 2 months of home quarantine await me; finding family difficult at the best of times, this is hardly something to look forward to. The most difficult element will no doubt be not being able to see both friends and my girlfriend. Being social and being around others that I get on with is such a crucial element of my life that I’m really quite concerned how I will manage without. I’m very much preparing for a pretty bleak summer devoid of what I most treasure.

Sophie, University of East Anglia

The benefits of all this is that we have time off uni, where we can in our own time go over work which we need to catch up on. It also means that I can catch up on sleep and have a bit more time with my friends. However, given the strikes, which have been happening for the past few weeks, it feels like I’m not getting a proper university education and so it’s wasting more time and money. I also feel like the panic and the stress has been quite traumatic; I really feel very anxious and uncertain about what is going to happen. I am afraid to see what will start happening as the pandemic continues. Though I do think that seeing the way some people are behaving, actually being very selfless and kind, like in those videos of people bonding in Italy, singing on the balconies, is very heartwarming.

Saniya, Durham

For me right now, it’s hard to see the positives. Coming back home from a now deemed red zone area, I’m at risk of passing it on to others. Anxiously waiting for 14 days hoping I don’t have it. It’s frustrating having your friends from all over the globe back home but being unable to see them. Being someone who is used to going out, it’s hard adjusting. However, this virus is a rich mans disease, it’s spread as we get the privilege to travel globally, so I think for those who have come back from abroad, it’s our responsibility to stay home.

Another thing that really bugs me about this situation is that I do not know when I will see my university friends next. I may have seen some of my closest friends that are graduating or going on a year abroad for the last time. Having to rush home before borders closed, I didn’t get a chance to say a proper goodbye.

At the same time I guess the positives are, I get to spend lots of time with my family, the anti-Muslim riots that were happening before have stopped, pollution is reduced and I get to read again.

Noah, Durham

I’m not really worried about the affect of the virus on myself, all the information seems to say that it’s only harmful for people who are elderly or have underlying health issues. I am, however, quite worried about going home when uni finishes because I live with my grandparents, and don’t want to unknowingly pass it onto them, as they are definitely at risk. Because of that, I’ll be self-isolating for a while. Being alone for that long could drive me a bit mad, but I do have a list of films, TV shows and books that I’ve been wanting to get through for a while, which should hopefully keep me company.

Ewan, Durham

I was always planning on travelling home to Hong Kong on March 27th, but my flight was cancelled last week. I was luckily able to move it for no cost to the 20th. I was looking to get an extension on my dissertation, because I feel that we’ve been taken completely by surprise in the past couple of weeks. Dealing with my flights, the (hopefully unfounded) fear of not being able to return to the UK before the end of my lease, and the sudden need to say a potentially final goodbye to my third-year friends, left me little time to get any work done. However, my request was denied by the department, which left me more stressed than when I’d submitted my application. Luckily a couple of my friends in similar situations also submitted requests, and I guess the pressure caused the department to reverse their decision. Still, I feel that this was a situation that didn’t need to happen. Many of my friends are trying to leave the UK as soon as possible, and the uncertainty surrounding third term and exams (especially for us final-years!), is making this transition harder than it needs to be, I feel. However, this situation is entirely unprecedented so I can slightly understand the position the university is in. We’ve been having ‘final’ meet-ups all week, but most people I know fully intend on returning during third term if possible, so hopefully we’ll see each other before the end of our time at university. In terms of positives, at least I’ll have the new Animal Crossing game when I’m in the mandatory two-weeks of self-isolation back home in Hong Kong!

Niyati, Durham

The worst thing that’s affecting me personally is the uncertainty, about when I’ll be able to go home and be with my family. But at the same time, it’s if I leave, whether or not I’ll have graduation, if and when I’ll get to meet my friends again, and we don’t know what’s happening with exams and Summatives.  It’s all a big question mark at this point. It’s heartbreaking to see that this might be it for us, third year could be over the moment I get that plane back, it could easily be a one way ticket. We won’t get to have our lasts at uni or we probably did and didn’t even know it.

The positives? Well my housemate is staying it out with me, so we’ve got a lot of time to catch up on the movies and shows we’d been wanting to watch for ages, and we can finally make that banana bread we’ve been talking about for 2 years. In addition to stocking up on essentials, we’ve got self care essentials, comfort food, face masks, alcohol… So we’re just going to try and make the best of our time at home. We’ve also got a great view of the market place in Durham from our apartment window, so that’s an added bonus to keep us entertained. And since my birthday is amidst all this, I’ve been receiving several care packages from my family and friends back home, so that’s keeping me going.

Student, LSE

On the plus side, I can see my family and spend time with them. I can figure out exactly what I need to do, rather than just taking it week by week, especially considering I had no reading week. So this gives me a bit of a break. I also think there is a sense of unity in the face of all this chaos. And I’m more up to date with the news than ever. But the Negatives? It sucks. There’s a bunch of uncertainty. You feel like you might infect someone, anytime you go out. Or you might get infected. And I can’t see my grandparents.

Angela, Grandparent

The negatives are the inability to travel. The economics: there is no work. The anxiety, loneliness and the feeling isolated. The positives are, family time, togetherness, kindness and charity. This is the time to contemplate and be thoughtful.

Middle aged mum of 3

Pros:  lots more time with the family.

Cons: lots more time with the family.

Pros: great meal times to share together – chatting, watching films and TV. Being creative about how we do things – we had a trainer fitness session over FaceTime and worked out as a family. I’m having the bridge teacher teach my group bridge online. So technology massively helps the isolation. It’s much easier to keep in contact with friends and family all over the world, and know how they are reacting to this. We get to hear their experiences and updates, and get silly cheerful clips and videos.

But technology also makes it easier to get stressed and anxious because we can see everything all the time – pictures and news of what is happening around the world with this thing.

I lived in wartime. It was different because it was not an isolation situation. We were all together in the bomb shelter. Here people are in isolation. I am not with my mum because it will endanger her, as she is in the vulnerable group and that is hard.

Also, in terms of beautification, I can’t see the hairdresser, visit the nail salon or the waxing woman. So you can imagine how we are all going to look after several weeks of “untamed eyebrows and frizzy hair”. But, there’s no socialising so no one will see you anyway!

Still-a-fun-loving-mum

For me, my family dynamics have completely changed, because I’m not neurotic and I don’t want to be caught up in this panic. Yet I’m one of four sisters, and they are all going down the neurotic way. And if I’m not, I’m bullied into becoming neurotic. It’s come to the point where I’m considering taking myself off my sister’s WhatsApp group. It’s a toxic neurosis that I don’t want to be part of it. It will probably cause a split between me and my sisters. I don’t have to agree to their ideas. I’m a positive person though, I’m not a pessimist. So I will enjoy spending time with my kids. I know of a rabbi’s wife who will still have flowers and make the house look lovely, because she doesn’t want her family to feel depressed. We are lucky, we have a home, a garden, but what about those in council flats? A lot of people, especially North West London, have lost the plot. It’s interesting though, you understand your friends more through this.  It’s becoming a little competitive aswell, who’s doing what? ‘I’m doing gloves, and I’m wearing masks. Are you not doing the masks?’ I feel like a leper in my own family! Because I’m not doing what they want me to. I mean, I have got food for us, and I have got things for Pesach, as I have to think about that on top of everything else, but I’m not getting depressed about it.

Susan Green, Businesswoman

I am in isolation for 14 days as my son has it – interestingly, he is only in isolation for 7 days. Maybe that means I’m better off having it then. The positives? I haven’t put make up on for 3 days, my outgoings will be less, as I see no point in buying clothes, and I’m not spending on theatre or restaurants. I’ve also bought a jigsaw, so you never know, I might find a new hobby. There’s also lots of extra time to binge watch TV.

I have already noticed a greater sense of community today with various new Facebook groups being set up to help people, and friends offering help. The Negatives? I will be cooking too much and will miss social interaction, including my bridge. Business is a worry and I will definitely get bored. Isolation can be very unhealthy.

If you would like your story to be shared, or you have any videos, articles or have seen any instances of the positive ways the world is responding to the Coronavirus, please include in the comments section or send to profile.editor@palatinate.org.uk

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