Hello all, I am writing to you from my fourth day in coronavirus quarantine, here in Barcelona, Spain. This is a message to everyone- family, friends, former colleagues, peers and teammates back home (or wherever you are in the world). Please take this virus seriously. I want to share with you what is happening here now, what the consequences are of a delayed response. I hope this will help you to understand that all jokes and toilet paper memes aside, your action needs to be taken now.
A week ago here in Spain, we only talked about coronavirus. We already had some cases, but it just didn’t seem that bad. We saw the suffering in Italy and said “That won’t happen here.” Changes were not made. People still went out on the weekend, went to the gym, went to work, to school, etc. Preventing the spread of the virus was not a priority. Fast forward just 1 WEEK: Spain is now in a state of emergency. The virus is here and it is tearing through this country. I have coronavirus. My friends have coronavirus. Parents of children have coronavirus. Teachers, students, business people, researchers, politicians, bus drivers, etc. have coronavirus. In a matter of days, the number of confirmed cases spiked from just a few hundred to well into the thousands. Hospitals and medical clinics are completely and entirely exhausted, operating at over-capacity, with quickly depleting resources and staff. Hundreds of doctors, nurses and other medical personnel have caught the virus and have been issued to quarantine. Those who remain are working 24/7, nonstop. It is not just the elderly or the immunocompromised who are checking in for treatment- people of ALL ages are needing medical care. With each passing day, the death toll rises and the situation grows more severe.
In just 1 WEEK the coronavirus has caused Spain to crumble and it appears the worst has yet to come. Now having one of the fastest rates of COVID-19 contagion in the entire world, the Spanish Prime Minister stated that the number of cases could top 10,000 by early next week- almost double the current level. Just yesterday, cases rose by 1,500. If the pressure on the health care system is already unbearable, then what could possibly happen in the following days? We could ask our dear friends in Italy, as they are about a week ahead of us, with thousands of infected people trying to get into hospitals with only a few spaces left. With doctors and nurses having to CHOOSE who to save and who to let die because there are not enough medical professionals, supplies or space left to treat the growing number of patients. The Spanish government can see we are following in Italy’s footsteps and the pressure is on, to make up for a lack of action taken in the beginning.
All schools and universities have shut down. Public events and sports games have been canceled. Roads have been blocked, entire regions of the country are under lockdown and towns and villages have been quarantined. Businesses, cafes, restaurants, gyms, bars/clubs, and shopping centers have all closed, with the exception of the supermarkets selling food and pharmacies. Police roam the streets to ensure people stay inside. The rest of the world can see the risk now too- 62 countries have suspended flights from Spain. To think, if preventative action could have been taken just 1 week before, if the mindsets of people could have shifted 1 week earlier, we could be living a very different reality right now.
To all the people back home in Canada or wherever you may be, please understand that this virus will change things very quickly. Once it becomes an issue, it is very hard to control. Being proactive and taking precautions now is absolutely necessary; every day counts! Be diligent with your health practices and be responsible with your decision making to be out in public!!! Going to the bar, the mall, the movies, the gym, etc. is truly just not worth it right now!!! Save it for a week that isn’t potentially life threatening to you or the humans around you. Push for work weeks at home and online classes!! Nothing is worth the risk. Social distancing is CRITICAL. And if you are sitting there feeling like you don’t have to be cautious because you are young/healthy, PLEASE remember that we as human beings have a responsibility to look out for one another. You being careless could lead to the loss of someone’s grandmother or grandfather, someone’s parent, someone’s coworker, or someone’s friend. That is what is happening here and it’s a lot more difficult to stop now that it’s started.
I hope you take something away from this going forward. Stay home and be cautious. Start today if you haven’t already. You will make a difference!!! Please stay safe everyone. ????