COVID-19 Around the World

Mike in New Zealand

Stories about COVID-19 from different corners of the world

If you told me a couple of weeks ago that coronavirus would put New Zealand on lock down, I would have said you were mad.

With the benefit of hindsight I was remarkably complacent with coronavirus: Oh we’ll be fine and it’ll all blow over. How wrong I was. The whole country is self-isolating with only essential services like supermarkets and pharmacies remaining open.

Like most others in New Zealand I am now locked up at home, rarely venturing beyond my front yard. Frankly it’s not that bad. I am not alone, I have my wife and my cats. With streaming services, games and books it’s shaping up to be quite a relaxing month.

My job is one of those that sounds cool but is entirely useless in a crisis. I am an economist. A spreadsheet never saved a life, at least not directly. I am one of the lucky ones. My job can be done from home. Report writing, meetings and calls only require a computer. By and large, I can keep going with the added benefit of not having to commute. It’s actually quite nice at this point, though I expect it’ll start to feel a bit claustrophobic if this goes on for months.

Families with kids are facing some interesting issues. With kindergartens and schools closed, kids have nowhere to be but at home. Of course this affects the children, but it’s difficult for parents too. Trying to work with kids at home, particularly young kids, can be difficult. Getting the kids to focus on that math paper while hosting a meeting is challenging.

For pharmacists, doctors, nurses and other health care workers on the front line this is getting ugly. They are waking up to days of long hours, anxious patients, and dangerous work conditions. Healthcare workers’ resilience is tested like never before. There are stories of clinicians separating from their families to avoid the risk of infecting a family member. We are lucky to have such dedicated people going in to fight for us!

More and more people are losing their jobs. Frankly, it has never been more important to have a robust social safety net. Governments will look to initiate large spending programs to prop up demand and employment. For some people though, it will be very difficult to find jobs. Sure the economy will bounce back in time, but it will be a bumpy ride.

There is one positive that I am seeing with coronavirus. Unity! You can see it in the look people give each other that says: we are in this together. In times of adversity you see people’s true colors. Other than sports events, I can’t recall another time in recent memory when I have seen society band together. Seeing people respond cohesively to fight the virus is encouraging and gives me hope.

Stay safe and stay home.

Mike, New Zealand

Be sure to check out Mike’s blog on political, social and economic issues.

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