COVID-19 Around the World

Nadya in Russia

Stories about COVID-19 from different corners of the world

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I am writing this in the middle of May and there is some good news. Restrictions in Russia have become easier. A few companies are allowed to open, walking and sporting outside are permitted again. The only problem, Russia is now second to the US for rate of new infections. More than 10.000 confirmed cases every day, about 240.000 in total now.

It is a huge country. Things in Moscow are absolutely different from the other regions. Logic is not the way to understand my country.

In fact, Russia was one of the last to believe the coronavirus is real. When Europe had started to report terrifying death numbers, people here remained relaxed and skeptical. Come on, the virus doesn’t exist. This is just a hoax or it’s just flu. I could hear people saying this in line at the store. Standing behind them with a mask on my face, I felt embarrassed.

I wished Russia’s belief about the ‘special nation’ was true, but the epidemic did come here. Some measures were taken when the first deaths came. Citizens older than 65 had to stay at home. Later, as the numbers increased, lock-downs were imposed and companies closed. People in most regions were ‘recommended‘ to not go outside unnecessarily.

But could these restrictions stop people from picnicking in the park with friends? The weather was nice and they did not have to work. A holiday, someone thought. However, after a couple of days the streets were empty. There was an unusual silence. Frightened by the disease and fines, people now did stay at home.

And they would have stayed home longer, if they had money. Unlike in the US or EU, there is no financial relief. Only some groups of citizens receive help. No job, no income, no savings, no money for food. Small businesses did not receive financial aid. Some people were forced to return to work and companies had to stay open.

I know of families with children, parents, and grandparents living in small two-room apartments. Being locked in there for weeks could be worse than getting the virus. So, when the warm weather came to my city, everybody got out. The self-isolation rules were still in place, but people got tired of it. I honestly felt the same. One day walking outside, I could not understand. Is there still a pandemic or was it just a terrible dream? People did not wear their masks and they lived like they used to. Is this reckless behavior? Yes, but we are all human have our psychological limits.

Even though the quarantine was official, it never felt like there really was one. However, wearing masks outside has become mandatory now.

We are all scared and do not want to get sick. It is not the virus that scares me personally, but our medical care. I believe, even without a crisis, that our medical system is bad shape. I do not want to end up at the state hospital. Doctors are true heroes there, do not get me wrong, but they do not have enough resources. Medical workers have to make masks themselves. Sew them, literally. With tears in my eyes, I was looking at the photos of women in masks made from bandages. Is our country really this poor?

Where is all the money when people and hospitals need it? Was it the right time to ease the restrictions? Or it was a necessary action to avoid an economical crisis? I do not know.

There is an old lady in my neighborhood. I see her every day, going around the small yard with an empty plastic bag. Once, I asked what the bag was for. ‘If the police approach me, I will say I am going to the store’, she explained.

Nadya, Russia

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