COVID-19: Thoughts

“The only way out is through, and the only way through is together.” John Green

Georgia 49 cases (22 March 2020)  Source:

This is a novel situation for me, being affected by a global pandemic. At the moment Georgia has relatively few cases, but looking at what has happened in other countries, the situation will probably change and change quite rapidly.

As a species it is our collective knowledge that has made us so successful.

This is the first global pandemic of the globally connected generation. We have so much information at our fingertips, but it can be difficult to discern what is good information. I don’t fear the virus so much as the panic around the virus and the unknown. The situation has escalated dramatically in the past week.

How have I been affected professionally?

Last week, I was working pretty much as normal, for those of you who don’t know I am an English teacher. This week, I have given my first lessons online using Skype, on Saturday I gave my first group lesson using Zoom, this is all very new to me. Online tutoring is something I used to think I might give a try sometime, now it has been forced on me suddenly by circumstances out of my control. This will be a steep learning curve.

Following the news

I have been following the progress of the Virus on the news, I get most of my information from the BBC News on the Internet, I have also been looking at the WHO Coronavirus updates. When it mostly affected China, it was concerning but not too worrying personally, but when the numbers started going up rapidly in Italy and then in other European countries the fear really hit home.

In Tbilisi

Here in Tbilisi, there are people wearing masks and the metro is less crowded than usual, the supermarkets are still well stocked but people are buying more pasta, toilet rolls and sugar than usual. The schools have closed, the minibuses have stopped operating, my stepdaughter has been laid off (she worked in a hotel), so now instead of three people in our flat (two adults and one child) we now have six (three adults and three children). The flat feels noisier and more cramped, as we are here almost 24/7, just going out to get provisions and returning quickly to wash our hands and distance ourselves physically from the rest of society.

Cabin Fever

Encouraging news

All is not doom and gloom, there is hope. The virus was identified quickly (unlike HIV) and a test was developped very rapidly, too. Scientists the world over are looking for vaccines and treatments. A team of infectious disease experts at the University of Queensland in Brisbane say they have seen two existing medications manage to wipe out COVID-19 infections. Chloroquine, an anti-malarial drug, and HIV-suppressing combination lopinavir/ritonavir have both reportedly shown promising results in human tests and made the virus ‘disappear’ in infected patients. If this is true, it is great news, these are existing drugs so they have already been tested as safe, they won’t need the extensive testing required by new drugs.

I wonder how long we will be directly affected by the virus. In China and South Korea the number of new cases has diminished significantly, which is encouraging. New cases are still surging in the rest of the world. At first many national leaders were talking of putting things on hold until April… now it seems the crisis will last much longer… some suggest 10 to 14 weeks… some even suggest  a year, expecting a second surge in the winter months. I’ve just seen that Glastonbury has been cancelled and that was scheduled for June. There is a lot we still don’t know.

I have seen the Washington Post explanation of how pandemics spread, shared by many: Washington Post Link

Here is a video explaining the need to “flatten the curve” so our health care services aren’t overburdened with too many cases at once: Flattening The Curve of Coronavirus Infections

Here in Georgia (the country not the state),  priests have been going around in pick ups spraying holy water about to combat the virus. I guess it can’t hurt.

The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said  “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.”

This virus could act as a wake up call to us all. We are all in this together. The terrible air pollution in China has been slashed dramatically. Maybe we can learn from this and look after ourselves and our planet better.

COVID-19 is a sad and serious situation but there are some upsides:

  • Having time to rest, decompress and stop all the crazy running around
  •  Learning that working from home works and saving all that commuting time and stress:
  • Starting new things such as writing a book or article, taking up art, finally learning Georgian…
  •  Counting our blessings and realizing we do not need half the things we think we do;
  •  Truly appreciating health care workers, public servants, and social support programs;
  • Taking nothing for granted and valuing our health more than anything else;
  • Seeing we can come together when facing a common enemy;
  • Savouring time at home with the family getting to know our children and grandchildren better and them learning about us
building a card tower
the two youngest grandchildren building a card tower

We need to listen to the health advice dispensed by public health officials.

In case you haven’t yet got the message:

1. Wash your hands…a lot…with soap and water….for at least 20 seconds

2. Avoid touching your face

3. Stay away from sick people

4. If you are sick stay at home

So, let us find ways to work with and for one another, to help one another, especially the most vulnerable among us. Let us make it out the only way we can, together. Stay safe.

“Together” by John Green