Denpasar, Indonesia: I will be self-isolating from next week. Locked away. Confined to barracks. Shut in. Holed up. Out of the way for 14 days. Once I get back to Dublin on Wednesday – presuming that all goes to schedule with flights – I’ll be required to self-isolate.
I have mixed feelings about the whole thing.
Obviously, there are very good reasons why it’s necessary. The last thing I need is to be responsible for infecting someone in the off-chance that I might be exposed to coronavirus. But because I have been travelling outside of the European Union, there’s no way around the self-isolating measure.
My Netflix subscription is up to date, I have all of the sports channels I could possible need – not that there’s any live sports anyway – and I have also subscribed to the new Disney streaming service that’s coming on stream on March 25, the day my self-isolation begins.
There are some books I would like to catch up, so I think I’ll be investing in a Kindle or similar device over the next few days, or at duty free shopping along the route back to Ireland.
Online grocery shopping will be the order of the day or days during the self-isolation period. My nephew has had to resort to cutting up kitchen roll as toilet paper supplies are non-existent as a result of panic buying. Someone sent me a meme suggest that instead of Bitcoin, we should instead in a new toilet paper-based cryptocurrency names Buttcoin.
Of course, my mobile phones will be charged so that I’m in touch with the world outside my bubble-like existence.
It’s hard to imagine what the psychological effects of the lockdown will be. We are all social animals, our normal state is one of interaction with each other, but our social environment has now changed as never before – and it will be a while before it returns to normal.
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I have a big bugbear when it comes to social media and the irresponsible way blatantly false stories are spread during this time when it’s essential that we all listen to proper and authentic advice.
No, holding your breath for a long time doesn’t mean that you haven’t contracted coronavirus, as some malicious and stupid posts suggests.
No, there is science-based evidence to suggest that ibuprophen-use is directly linked to your chances of contracting Covid-19.
And no, there aren’t four children in critical condition in the hospital with coronavirus and doctors at a particularly hospital are panicking.
Whoever takes pleasure in starting these baseless rumours or propagates them on social media is not doing anyone any favours at the moment. They are simply undermining the coordinated public health efforts to contain this virus and protect those most at risk – the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.
In Germany, the 15 contestants locked away in a Big Brother house as part of a reality television show are being informed about the Covid-19 pandemic. As things stand up to this, they have no idea of what is unfolding in the wake of this pandemic. One of the many cancellations as a result of coronavirus is Season 41 of Survivor, where filming was supposed to start at the end of the month. Nope, the reality of Covid-19 means that is now postponed until September. That is a small merch for which we all should be grateful.
I wonder how long it will be before some television executive looks at ratings and suddenly gets a flash of inspiration: Let’s do a Covid 19 reality series, filming people under quarantine for two weeks? Please note I am claiming trademark rights on that idea and will be seeking royalty cheques should that indeed happen. And knowing the banality of such programmes like Love Island or Big Brother, it is only a matter of time before this happens.
In Spain right now, police are issuing on-the-spot fines of €500 (Dh2,025) for anyone who is out of their home without proper authorisation. If you have a dog, you are allowed walk it, and I have heard of neighbours passing pooches over the garden wall to take turns to get out of the house for some air. Somehow, I think that every dog in Spain will never have been so well walked as during this surreal crisis.
Just as I leave Bali, locals will be celebrating their new year – an annual festival called ‘Nyepi’. It’s a day when there is no sound, all work stops, lights are turned off and everyone stays home. It’s a time of reflection, of being grateful for what people have, thinking of what has gone before, and what is to come in the months ahead.
I think I need to look at my 14 days of self-isolation as a time of reflection, contemplating what has happened and what is to come. Looking around the world now, at what is unfolding, maybe that’s not such a bad thing.
Don’t we all need a little time to pause, reflect and hit the reset button?
Mick O’Reilly is the Gulf News Foreign Correspondent based in Europe