A safety message to sanitise your hands every two hours, displayed at a hypermarket till in the Mall of the Emirates in Dubai. Image Credit: Antonin Kélian Kallouche/Gulf News

My life has changed beyond recognition. It’s been four weeks since the new coronavirus began to make significant changes to our lives in the UAE. So drastic has been some of the changes that I no longer recognise my lifestyle.

For a start, this column takes shape in my living room, not at my office desk. For us at Gulf News, the shift has been gradual. Now we are entirely in the WFH mode. I hate to work from home: too many distractions. At the office, it’s easier to focus on the task at hand.

It’s not easy making home your workplace. I miss the morning rituals of getting ready for office. The gridlock on the roads has become a memory. The office banter, coffee breaks and meetings; how I miss them.

Well, this is a new reality. With Dubai stepping up the disinfection drive round the clock, the office commute is uncalled for. Working from office is no longer a safe option. More so, when social distancing is at the heart of efforts to eliminate the virus that causes COVID-19.

Why continued vigilance is necessary

SARS-CoV2, the virus, continues to wreak havoc around the world. China’s largely come out of its grasp, although there are still lots of imported cases. The numbers in Italy and Spain have been coming down consistently, but high enough to remain anxious. The United States has become the new hotspot, with infections topping 300,000 and more than 8,500 deaths.

The UAE too is grappling with more cases each day, but mercifully the numbers are low and there haven’t been many deaths. All this gives us enough reason for continued vigilance. We have to do everything within our powers to fight the spread of the pathogen.

I continue to be cautious, and have even ramped up efforts for enhanced hygiene and improved immunity. My family, wife and daughter, have been at home for three weeks. I do the grocery run, which is limited to once a week. Antiseptic hand wash and hand sanitisers are always on the shopping list now.

Lemon water has replaced jeera (cumin) water at home. Every morning, my wife puts sliced lemons into a jug and fills it with warm water. Instead of water, we drink lemon water throughout the day. More slices are added later in the day, and the water topped up when required. It provides us with natural Vitamin C. Does it help? I don’t know. But we drink it every day.

Our precautions are now led by my wife, who takes pains to wash vegetables and meat more thoroughly. They are rinsed with water mixed with salt and vinegar. Meat and fish get a thin coating of turmeric (too much of it will make it bitter) before they are stowed away in the freezer. We’re hoping the antiseptic properties of turmeric helps.

more on coronavirus

Not everything is going according to plan. My living room yoga, which has replaced my morning walks, is working only in fits and starts. I haven’t been able to strike a daily rhythm. I have packed away my tennis gear; my new shoes have seen the courts only once.

My wife is fine binge-watching TV, but my teenage daughter has been struggling. Her CBSE exams are over (the last subject was cancelled), and she has plenty of spare time. She keeps in touch with her friends through conference calls on Smoothy. But she misses the outdoors. Can I go to the park? Or the Waterfront, she asks without waiting for an answer. We have to be patient, I tell her.

Yes, we have to be patient. Nobody likes to remain indoors. But we don’t have a choice, especially when we are facing a global pandemic.

We have to wait out the contagion. So I’m staying home. We’re staying home.