Covid-19: My Very British Experience So Far

I wasn’t planning on writing about Coronavirus and Covid-19, but since Thursday, the panic in Britain seems to have intensified. As of yesterday, there were 798 confirmed cases with 10 deaths in the UK. I can’t help but start to worry, just a little. While many other European countries have begun to go into lock-down, we remain (for the most part) functioning. How very British: keep calm and carry on.

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been reassuring the students in my secondary school that everything is going to be fine. I lost count of the amount of times I’ve been asked if we’re shutting the school. I lost count of the amount of times I’ve told them that they are very unlikely to die. And up until Thursday, I was quite relaxed. We had a handful of cases, one death, and I thought the severity of Covid-19 was being blown out of proportion. I was adamant that it was going to blow over.

Regretfully, I think I was wrong.

On Thursday 12th, Johnson spoke on the crisis following their COBRA meeting. Only an hour before, my school had pulled us in for an emergency meeting on provisions for if schools close. On Friday 13th, the talk of the office was the news that Ireland, France, and Spain were closing schools, yet we were still working. As the day progressed, members of staff seemed to be clearly panicking over what would happen if school closed, how they would set work, what work they would set. Even then, I was still relaxed – why set work now if we don’t shut for another two weeks, four weeks, five?

But when I got to my mum’s in the evening, the worry about Covid-19 started to set in.

The media had been telling us for days that people were stockpiling: toilet paper, hand-sanitiser, and canned food. I was adamant that again, it was hype. It was exaggerating the situation for clicks and sales. Especially since I’d ordered a Tesco collection the week before and had got everything I’d ordered, for the first time, ever. I’d sort of made the decision already that I would be going to the supermarket to get some long lasting bits, just in case, but when I arrived at mum’s, I was told that the shop was almost empty.

We found that all pasta, all toilet roll, all semi-skimmed long life milk, almost all rice, tin cans, frozen food gone. Around us, individuals were piling up baskets and trolleys. I watched one woman pick up at least 10 or 12 packs of Uncle Ben’s rice. In our household, there’s just the two of us. 10 packs of rice gets us 10 day’s worth of dinners. We realised that when one person panic buys, we all start to panic buy.

Not long after we had bought a couple of bags (only a couple as we had calculated exactly what we would need for two weeks on lock down) we heard that the Premier League was cancelling all matches. Now almost all sporting events were cancelled.

It was surreal, like we were living The Walking Dead, or I Am Legend, or Fallout.

Today, I’m not worried that I’ll get sick. I’m thinking about whether I’ll be able to make it to Canada in April. A number of people I know have had flights and holidays cancelled. I was meant to visit my friend in Vancouver, and I’m worried that it will be cancelled, or I’ll have to self isolate when I return. The same goes for my trip to Santorini with Dan in July. I’m also thinking about what I’ll do if the school is closed, and how I will use my time, especially if we can’t get into the building.

For once, I think Johnson is right. This is a life changing event, whether it’s in the long or short term. Unfortunately, all we can do at this moment is keep calm and carry on. Follow the advice of the government and health professionals, and hopefully we can pull through the Covid-19 crisis.

Stay safe, everyone.

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