The Quarantine Diaries 1: 15/03/20

  • 01/03/20 – 80 cases
  • 02/03/20 – 120 cases
  • 03/03/20 – 160 cases
  • 04/03/20 – 227 cases
  • 05/03/20 – 280 cases
  • 06/03/20 – 389 cases
  • 07/03/20 – 605 cases
  • 08/03/20 – 999 cases
  • 09/03/20 – 1648 cases
  • 10/03/20 – 2000 cases
  • 11/03/20 – 2242 cases
  • 12/03/20 – 4334 cases
  • 13/03/20 – 5753 cases
  • 14/03/20 – 6070 cases
  • 15/03/20 – 7750 cases

The first case of Coronavirus was reported in Spain on 25/02/20.

Having kept an eye on the figures, and noticed cases doubling rapidly (every 2-3 days) I decided not to take the kids back to school after the Semana Blanca (half-term holiday in Andaluc√≠a), which ended on 02/03/20. I wrote to the school expressing my concerns about the spread of the virus, and asked for any advice they could give me, at which point, they had none to offer. The next day we all had low fever and a slight cough, so I felt justified in my decision, especially as a friend of mine who is a flight attendant had come down with flu-like symptoms, and we’d seen her only a few days earlier. So began our partial isolation, my husband being in London (a business trip I’d advised against), I tried to recreate the school day as best I could, whilst homeworking in parallel, and attempting to keep my two-year-old entertained. That’s before I even got started on the housework, so it was quite a juggling act. I also had to deal with the parental guilt of separating my child from his classmates and his school curriculum (not that he wasn’t pretty pleased about being able to stay home), and feeling like a lunatic being the only parent at the school who seemed concerned at this point.

Thankfully, in the afternoons there was ‘quarantine park’ – an isolated playgroud down the road where I’d take the kids to run around and tire themselves out. There was always time to terrify myself by scouring the headlines for scare stories relating to the virus. In panicked moments, I remembered what a character in the game of ‘Atmosfear’ had once counselled: ‘Ghost train is coming kiddies…listen to it scream…’

Then there were moments of calm, 20 minutes of yoga, 20 minutes curled up with a book, a bath. Parents have to take their calm in gasps. It’s ok, as long as the kids continue fit and healthy, it’s ok. Apart from the slight fever and cough, we’ve continued fine so far. There’s been the exhaustion as well, but probably more from my temporary single-parent status than any persistent illness. Reading the headlines, it’s easy to start feeling as if your lungs are being crushed.

My husband returned from what I could only imagine was a hotbed of infection, having travelled all over London, the return flight plus a football match, before they became a thing of the past. How rapidly the situation has got out of control.

He started with cough and fever a few days ago, but it seems to have all but cleared up, as have my symptoms, real or imagined, apart from the lingering tiredness.

On Friday (13/03/20) the schools finally closed, much as I’d predicted they would two weeks earlier. I was relieved. Then came the talk of quarantine, which was beginning to seem like a necessary evil. I took a day off work and flew around the shops stocking up on non-perishable items while trying my best to avoid a woman who was coughing harshly into the roll-neck of her sweater. I was starting to balance the risk of running out of essential items against the risk of becoming infected during one of these provisioning trips, but it was good to drive around in my little protective bubble of a car.

I went for a last ‘free’ outing to the supermarket yesterday, once again having to pass too close for comfort to a lady who was coughing in the supermarket doorway, of all the inconsiderate places to eject your viral load.

Now lockdown has begun in earnest: only trips to doctor, pharmacy or to buy food and other essential items are allowed. No walking or running neither for exercise nor pleasure. No hanging around in communal areas of the apartment building….as yet I’m unsure if the garden is out of bounds.

I started the day well with some yoga on the terrace as the sun was rising behind some low, unhealthy-looking cloud. Then endless housework, making food for the family, washing dishes, washing clothes, trying to keep the flat clean. I suppose this was most women’s lot in life for many centuries. I’m pleased it’s only temporary in my case, and more pleased still that I can take some time away from it to write.

Outside, eerily quiet. I’ve enjoyed two trips down to the communal bins, which are already overdue an empty and looking pretty insanitary – still, good to step out into the silent streets and breath the fresh, unpolluted air. At least the environment should benefit from this hiatus. Consumerism has been halted. It will be interesting to see how we all get along without it. In some ways, I feel safer now that no-one is allowed to spread their germs around, although keeping a level head in such conditions will require many daily acts of mental grounding, such as this.

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