I’ve been reading a lot about Covid-19 and it’s fair to say that there’s a lot of conflicting information out there, even from apparent specialists in the field. I’m not a scientist, much less a virologist so I have no intention of weighing in on the argument as to whether the Spanish government’s policy is or is not the right one. I will just say that I believe they are acting in good faith to protect Spanish citizens, and perhaps the sense of confidence that brings is as important as anything in times like these.
And these are extraordinary times. It is the first time in my life that I have been obliged by law to remain in my home at all times (with a few important exceptions). And it feels very, very strange. But other than the panic buying – which eventually did take place here, although later than in some other countries – it feels like there is a very strong sense of community, even as we are isolated in our individual little boxes.
For the past two nights, there have been co-ordinated rounds of applause across Spain for the healthcare workers and other essential workers who are keeping the country’s services running. There is a whole programme of balcony events planned, including children’s events featuring the slogan ‘todo saldrá bien’ (everything will turn out fine). People are stepping up to help elderly and vulnerable neighbours. Companies are offering services free of charge. And – largely – the confinement is being observed. We are all in this together.
As for me, I had a pretty lazy day one. I didn’t do any exercise. I watched the TV news and an episode of a Friends, but nothing else. I went up to the roof to get some washing in. I did some Norwegian and Catalan on Duolingo. I listened – and sang along – to lots of music (mainly in Spanish, because that’s how I roll). And I made a model of a dog so I could joke to my friends that I now had an excuse to go outside.
But most of all, I talked to people, by phone, by WhatsApp message, via social media. Because although I am quite a homebody, somehow when you’re denied human contact, it is the thing you crave most. I will not feel another person’s arm around my shoulders for at least two weeks – maybe months. I will not feel another person’s skin against mine. But I can hear their voices, I can sing with them, I can laugh with them and we can tell each other that this too shall pass.
Please, if you know people who are in isolation, spare a thought for them, spare a moment of your time to check in and ask how they’re doing. Especially if they are alone, elderly or vulnerable.
Things are tough right now. Until the government announces its package of economic measures (and even beyond that) many of us are living with uncertainty as to what will happen to jobs and businesses. At the moment, I can’t even begin to worry about that, but I don’t have my own company with staff to pay. I’m sure for those who do, the economic pressures must be right up there alongside concerns about the virus itself.
For myself, my mental health is pretty good right now. But I can imagine that for those who are suffering with depression or anxiety (and I mention those in particular only because of personal experience) it must be even tougher to be shut up amidst such uncertainty.
As I said at the start, I don’t want to get political. There are tough decisions to be made. There are tough times ahead. Let us be the light in each other’s lives. Let us keep each other’s spirits up in these tough times.
Todo saldrá bien.