Like millions of others around the world, Gulf News Foreign Correspondent Mick O’Reilly is currently under Covid-19 lockdown. This is what life is like in social isolation in Ireland, where there are strict rules about who is allowed out, where, and under limited circumstances.
Monday April 13, 9am
IS THERE ANYBODY OUT THERE?
TWO WEEKS AND COUNTING
So, like more than half of the world’s population, I am living under strict rules of social isolation, limited movement, and little face-to-face engagement with other people.
The emergency measures in Ireland have been extended until May 5 at least, while come examinations have been cancelled for those in their mid-teens. The government, however, has decided that the end-of-secondary school exams will go ahead, although not until late July or August at the earlier.
This means that there are knock-on effects for those students who want to go on to third-level education.
It’s the first time I have heard students complain that they want to sit exams. Just think of all the extra time to cram!
GROWING PAINS IN NORWAY
Scott, my stepson, has green fingers. No, it’s not a genetic fault – he likes growing things. In the winters, he manages a bowling alley and sports restaurant in a ski resort high in Norwegian Arctic.
Easter Weekend is the traditional end of the ski season on the slopes, and tourists drive for hours to get the last of the piste.
Scott and his girlfriend Mette, who worked as a receptionist in a local hotel, have both lost their jobs. Now, He’s taken to growing microgreens and herbs in his small apartment. And they’re using them in dishes that they’ve perfected during their weeks of lockdown.
It’s a fruitful way of turning something negative into a positive.
BEATING THE PAIN IN SPAIN
It’s been 70 years since Jose Prieto Cerrudo got on a mule at the Valdelageve fiestas in Salamanca, in northwestern Spain. He and his brother had come to the village from Bejar, 30 kilometers away, to earn some money busking – he played the clarinet; his brother the cymbals. When Jose saw the mule, he got on it to impress Guadalupe Matas Hernandez, who was at the fair with a friend.
“The mule is called Cana, and it’s mine,” she told him. The mule then ran forward and ducked its head so that Jose sailed over the top and landed in a heap.
That was how Guadalupe and Jose first met. This led to walks together, followed by letters when Guadalupe, like many women in her village, went to work for a family in Madrid. Finally, in 1955, the pair married and had their first daughter, then a second and a third and so on as they tried for a boy. “Look at what you’ve got us into, all for the sake of a boy,” said Guadalupe in 1971, after giving birth to seven girls.
They missed each other; they don’t know how to be apart.
Last month, Jose and Guadalupe gave these daughters – Maite, Rosi, Irene, Maria Jose, Pilar, Maika and Bea – a shock when they were both hospitalised for COVID-19.
They were both put in the same hospital room while then were treated for coronavirus. Thankfully, three weeks later, they both pulled through, and are back home how, keeping each other company and were able to tell their remarkable story to El Pais, the Spanish newspaper.
MUSLIMS HELPING OUT IN KENTUCKY
Members of the Muslim community have joined forces to help the city of Louisville during the coronavirus pandemic. This COVID-19 response team is composed of community leaders and representatives from the different language-speaking and ethnic demographics in the community, including the city’s Arab, Indo-Pakistani, Somali, Turkish and Senegambian congregations. The group formed in early March and delivers goods biweekly.
“Our inspiration comes, clearly, from our faith tradition, which puts equal weight and importance on those who have faith and do good deeds,” Civic Engagement Committee member Hamza Foy told AP.
IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF UGANDA PRESIDENT
As countries around the world struggle to keep citizens inside to stop the spread of coronavirus, Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, is trying something a bit different.
In a bid to encourage Ugandans to stay home during his nation’s lockdown, the 75-year-old leader has released his own home workout video, which was aired on CNN.
Museveni took to Twitter to warn Ugandans not to exercise outdoors, writing: “If you want to exercise, you can do that indoors.”
A BABY WITH FIGHTING SPIRIT
A two-month-old baby who was believed to have been Italy’s youngest COVID-19 patient has been released from hospital after overcoming the disease, media reports said.
The baby, Reuters says, was no longer running a temperature or fever and was released with her mother, who has recovered from a bout of pneumonia, the reports said.
The two were hospitalised in the southern city of Bari on March 18.
ZOOM PROFANITY TRIPS UP MAYOR
A Mississippi mayor says his online meeting was hacked with vulgar and racist words and images because of his recent comments about the new coronavirus in his city. Moss Point Mayor Mario King was leading a board of aldermen meeting Tuesday night on Zoom when someone interrupted the online gathering, which the mayor was also streaming on Facebook Live, news outlets report.
The meeting was ended, and the mayor did a separate Facebook Live, lasting nearly an hour, addressing the hack. King told AP this was not a new experience for him because he often receives racist messages.
107-YEAR-OLD WOMAN SURVIVES THE VIRUS
A 107-year old Dutch woman has recovered from COVID-19, probably becoming the oldest survivor of the pandemic in the world.
Cornelia Ras fell ill on March 17, the day after her 107th birthday, Dutch newspaper AD reported, after attending a church service with other residents of her nursing home on Goeree-Overflakkee, an island in the southwest of the country.
She and 40 others at the service were subsequently diagnosed as carrying the virus.
Twelve of that group have since died, but Ras was told by her doctors on Monday that she had beaten the infection.
“We did not expect her to survive this,” her niece Maaike de Groot told the newspaper. “She takes no medicines, still walks well and gets down on her knees every night to thank the Lord. From the looks of it, she will be able to continue to do so.”
A WHOLE NEW MEANING TO SCRUBS
Nurses at United Hospital in St Paul, Minnesota are concerned that they’ve been asked to personally clean their own scrubs, putting them and their families at undue risk. Emergency room nurse Cliff Willmeng said they should be able to use hospital-issued scrubs so they don’t have to take their personal garments home, which could carry SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Willmeng told the St. Paul Pioneer Press that it’s a “clear workplace safety issue.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US has recommended that disposable gloves should be used when doing laundry at home for a sick person, that garments should not be shaken and that hampers should be disinfected afterward.
MEME OF THE DAY
This meme was shared with me on Facebook by my second cousin, Annie, who is living through lockdown between London and Brighton. Annie tells me that they’ve had to ask the local council to close some local beauty stots because there are too many out-of-town people coming into the area and are ignoring social-distancing rules.
THE LOCKDOWN DIET
Day 15 of Dr Joshi’s Holistic Detox: “21 days to a healthier slimmer you – for life.”
So I had a fresh salmon fillet to cook for supper. I was looking to do something different. Then I had a brainwave – make a rosti using a grated parsnip, some oatflakes, some finely shredded leek, seasoning and an egg to bind.
It worked a treat – and there was some of the rosi mix left over. I’ll add another egg to that and cook it just like a Spanish tortilla or omelette.
But I can’t wait to murder a coffee come next Saturday.
50 SHADES OF GREY
My friend Lynne is living under strict lockdown conditions in Lanzarote on one of the Spanish Canary Islands.
Like all Spaniards, Lynne is confined to home, can only go out to shop or to walk her dogs no more than 50 metres from her home.
But Lynne is getting really fed up. It’s her roots, you see.
She has long dark hair, but with long silver roots now. And she’s tempted to use a hair dye.
There was a text message on WhatsApp saying the hairdresser would do a home visit. But no sooner was that sent than there was another, saying the Spanish police didn’t consider hairdressing to be worthy of breaking the lockdown.
Brings a whole meaning to 50 Shades of Grey!
STRANDED IN SURFER’S PARADISE
I have two friends who, bless them, are stuck in Indonesia. They were supposed to fly back to Spain three weeks ago after a fortnight riding the waves in Bali.
But things got messed up. Their flights were cancelled.
They are holed up in a cabin by the side of the ocean and have access to food supplies and all they need.
Now they’ve been told they won’t be able to leave until the middle of June at the earliest.
Their biggest worry is that they might run out of wax for the bottom of their surfboards.
Oh dear, what a trauma – eight more weeks in surfer’s paradise!
THE STOCK SHOCK
There has been no trading on the London Stock Exchange since last Thursday. This is how my pretend portfolio of £10,000 (about Dh45,000) stands after two weeks of trading and playing the market.
Net worth: £10753.13
Just East Takeaway, 100 shares: £7502.00
Totally, 250 shares: £2793.00
Cash in hand £458.15
% Gain +7.53 per cent
£ Gain +£753.13
A gain of 7.53 per cent over two weeks makes me pretty proud. If only it were real money!
COVIDIOTS, YOBS AND GOONS
Here’s my daily collection of lowlifes who remind you that some life forms have hardly crawled out of the swamp while the rest of us moved on millennia ago.
THIS COWBOY BLAMES THE INDIANS
Authorities in northern Arizona in the United States have arrested a man for writing a racist social media post accusing Navajo people of carrying the coronavirus and calling for their deaths.
The Page Police Department said that a 34-year-man was taken into custody on suspicion of attempting to incite an act of terrorism.
Police say they received reports of a Facebook post that urged people to use “lethal force” against the Navajo community because they were “100 per cent infected” with covid-19. Investigators say they traced the post to the suspect, AP reports.
SA COPS BREAK THE LAW TO SELL BOOZE
South Africa, which banned the sale of all alcohol and cigarettes under a coronavirus lockdown that triggered a wave of lootings of liquor shops, said on Sunday it had caught police officers who were complicit in illegal alcohol sales.
South Africa’s police minister Bheki Cele says a ban on all sales of alcohol has helped lower crime during a coronavirus lockdown. But with liquor stores shut, the country has seen a growing black market for alcohol and a wave of attacks on shuttered shops.
Two police warrant officers had been arrested after being caught buying alcohol, allegedly for resale, on Thursday, alongside a store manager and cashier
Two further members of the police in another province were caught on Friday escorting three light pick-up trucks loaded with alcohol, Reuters reports.
SERGEANT FORGOT HIS HYGIENE
A police sergeant is under investigation after a video shared on social media appears to show him coughing toward a woman at a public housing complex in Baltimore, Maryland, during the coronavirus pandemic, officials said.
The profanity-laced video shows the sergeant coughing without covering his mouth as he passes the woman recording it and at least two other people.
The woman calls out the officer, who is white, and others begin to yell. “After watching the full video, in its entirety, it is not only disturbing, but incomprehensible, especially considering the high-level of strong and clear guidance that we have provided from the beginning, regarding Covid-19,” Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said in a statement carried on AP.
The video surfaced a day after a Baltimore police station reopened after it was sanitised because an officer tested positive for the new coronavirus, with more than 90 officers there cleared to return to work.
AS DRUNK AS A SKUNK
A covidiot decided to celebrate the Good Friday Bank Holiday by getting so drunk he passed out by the River Thames in the swish London suburb of Kingston-Upon-Thames, requiring three paramedics to treat him while the service is already stretched to its limit.
Sarah Fleming and her husband Darren, who manage a riverside pub, were enjoying a quiet read on their patio in Kingston upon Thames when they spotted the man stumbling nearby.
One of their live-in staff members had earlier spotted him rubbing lotion on himself and sunbathing behind a wall where passersby could not see him.
He then proceeded to projectile vomit all over a cement staircase where the swans normally gather and he then passed out, before three paramedics arrived to treat him despite the emergency services being pushed to the brink by coronavirus.
Fleming told MailOnline: “The paramedics had to spend precious time and resources attending to this chap. The selfishness is mind boggling. If ever you needed an image which encapsulated what we had hoped NOT to witness this Easter weekend, I think this might capture it.”
YOBS ATTACK DUTIFUL POSTMAN
A Royal Mail postman in the UK who told covidiots to self- isolate had his van kicked.
Three yobs were filmed verbally lashing the man after he ticked them off for ignoring the UK’s lockdown rules.
One booted the Royal Mail van after clashing with the delivery driver at Brighstone on the Isle of Wight on Thursday, The Sun reports.
Local Katherine Potter said: “The postman told them only two people are meant to be out together.”
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
I’m not an expert, but I might be able to help you make a bit of sense of this. And we can all get through it together. Isn’t this what this is all about.
Send your questions for me to Readers@gulfnews.com.
That’s it for now. Let’s check in with each other tomorrow. I have used files from Reuters, the BBC and other media outlets in today’s blog. And remember to stay safe.
Mick O’Reilly is the Gulf News Foreign Correspondent based in Europe