Quarantine comes from the Latin quadraginta, which means 40. In the Spanish language Lent is called cuaresma and quarantine is called cuarentena. The number forty is cuarenta. We’ve been ordered to self-confinement for 15 days. Something tells me that number might be a little off.
I am writing this to you from Spain. Today is Friday, March 20. This is my eighth day at home. Last week on Thursday we were still in school with up to 33 people in a room at a time. Social distancing in Spain officially started on Saturday, March 14. President Sánchez declared a state of emergency on Sunday. Although all restaurants, cafeterias, and shops other than supermarkets and pharmacies closed on Saturday at noon, measures to contain the spread of the virus have become increasingly stricter. We are about a week behind Italy. Some of you are probably about a week behind us.
427 deaths today in Italy alone. The Chinese city of Wuhan has reported no cases of contagion after 56 days of quarantine. (Images of Chinese girls in Wuhan doing Tai Chi in a courtyard.) The French have discovered that ibuprofen makes Covid 19 symptoms worse. Fake news. The Spanish authorities declare that it is not harmful to take ibuprofen. Chinese virus. Only affects the elderly. A young girl has tested positive for Covid 19. #QuedateEnCasa. #StayAtHome. Tom Hanks. Prince Albert. President Pedro Sanchez’s wife has tested positive. A 37-year-old Spanish national police officer has died of Covid 19 although he had no previous health conditions. The virus appears to affect men more than women. 52-year-old female nurse dies of the virus. People applaud the unsung medical heroes from their windows at 8 pm every evening. The dead are placed in coffins and incinerated immediately. No goodbyes, funerals or wakes. Don’t worry, it only affects the old and the weak. Patients with other conditions may receive only one visitor. “Please use your elbows to open the doors and push the elevator button. And make sure you don’t touch your child. You must sit on the window ledge in the corner of the room so as not to contaminate him or the room.”
Today I had to make the painful but necessary decision not to visit my son, who is in the University Hospital. He is isolated on the fifth floor for an unrelated condition. Covid 19 patients are on the ninth floor or in the Intensive Care Unit in the same facility. As we were watching the regional news over lunch, the military was taking over the covered parking lot of the University Hospital. The cleaning staff was disinfecting military tents where people will be tested so as to keep the virus out of the hospital as much as possible. You could almost smell the bleach through the TV screen.
You may have noticed that many famous people and politicians have tested positive. The only difference I can find between them and us is that they have had access to the test and we haven’t. And why has the death toll in Italy overtaken the death toll in China? Take a moment to Google the total population of China and the total population of Italy (I’m too busy writing.) Please do the math for me. Could the answer be that the Chinese government responded to the situation more quickly and more efficiently? Could it be that you and I are so used to our personal freedoms that we can’t understand the difference between personal liberty and a public health threat? This is a pandemic. Excuse me for a second while I google that… Okay. I’ve just copied this from an article from the BBC from March 11, 2020.
“What is a pandemic?
A pandemic describes an infectious disease where we see significant and ongoing person-to-person spread in multiple countries around the world at the same time. The last time a pandemic occurred was in 2009 with swine flu, which experts think killed hundreds of thousands of people. Pandemics are more likely if a virus is brand new, able to infect people easily and can spread from person-to-person in an efficient and sustained way. Coronavirus appears to tick all of those boxes. With no vaccine or treatment that can prevent it yet, containing its spread is vital.”
For some reason, Covid 19 is more contagious than the swine flu.
What breaks my heart is what is happening in Italy. What scares me is that Spain is catching up quickly. What I hope is that those of you who live in other countries will learn from our mistakes.
I for one am going to listen to the experts and not the politicians. The experts are the scientists who are working tirelessly to find answers and a cure. They are the doctors and nurses who are literally risking their own health to better ours. Tonight at 8 pm I’ll open my window and clap with the rest of my neighbors. Tonight I’ll be applauding those amazing cleaning ladies who are disinfecting the army tents. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.