A Singaporean living in Ho Chi Minh City and a Filipino-Japanese living in Tokyo have shared their thoughts on life in self-isolation due to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.
The comments were made following a request by Tuoi Tre News as the COVID-19 epidemic has infected over one million people globally and citizens around the world are being encouraged to stay home in order to prevent the spread of the disease.
The following comments have been edited by Tuoi Tre News for clarity, consistency, and coherence.
‘We can live responsibly for a better future’
When the virus first emerged in Wuhan, China, I thought about the same thing as everyone else – that it seemed like something that was happening in a faraway country and could only be read about in the news.
When the virus first broke out, I was preparing to enjoy my Tet holiday back with my family in Singapore.
I think that people need to work hand in hand with their government to win the war against the virus.
So far, throughout this crisis, I’ve noticed two types of behavior.
First, there are those who are socially irresponsible. They have the “I don’t give a damn” attitude and think “If I get coronavirus, I get coronavirus. At the end of the day, I’m not going to let it stop me from partying.”
If those people keep acting that way, it shows they’ve clearly not considered the consequences of infecting their love ones, friends, or colleagues. They’ve also not thought of the burden that falls on the healthcare system.
There are also those out there who feel like it’s the end of the world. Those are the people who are panic buying and hoarding.
The trick to find a middle ground is ‘rationality.’ We need to ask ourselves ‘how can we rationally prepare for something that’s likely to occur?”
I know self-isolation might be unbearable for extroverts and sociable people but those people need to understand that we are in the middle of a pandemic.
Having lived in Australia for four years and Vietnam for the last seven, I’ve learned to be adaptable.
I’m an extrovert, but for the last days I've refrained from all social meetings and worked from home as well as eliminated all non-essential outdoor activities.
Staying home has its benefits. Besides having more time to exercise, I’ve been able to improve my cooking skills and I’ve spent some time thinking about the positive impacts of this pandemic.
Human beings claim to be supreme among the living creatures on the planet but we are currently being crippled by the smallest of living organisms. I see this as a reminder of our humanity. It begs the question: how have we been living as a species?
Perhaps it’s a good time to reflect on our lives. Was this a punishment from Mother Nature as a result of our mistreatment of the Earth?
After public health campaigns such as the #stayhome movement and social distancing, the natural environment has flourished all around the world.
Marine life has returned to the waters of Italy and the major slowdown in the manufacturing and industrial emissions has resulted in blue skies in Beijing.
While COVID-19 has claimed lives, perhaps many more have been saved by the reduced air and industrial pollution.
This pandemic shows us that the way our economies have been operating has a huge hidden health cost.
Governments should take this opportunity to promote climate change, reduce the toxins we put into the air, and reduce dumping waste in the ocean.
We need to use this time to ask ourselves, “should we be reducing our use of disposable plastics and replace them with ‘green’ products?” After all, what’s the point of throwing money into the economy if we’re going to lose our planet?
In closing, have courage! China has shown the world that the war against COVID-19 can be won.
This is the time when we must stand together as one. We must stand together with our government to keep this virus contained and to overcome this challenge, just as we have done in the past.
Darren Chua (Singaporean)
‘Be more responsible for yourself and for others’
The current situation is a matter of creating a mindset where you have to be more responsible for yourself and for others.
When I learned more information about COVID-19, I realized that even going out to buy essentials is a risk. Therefore, I try my best to maximize my time outdoors so that I can buy all the things I need.
I maximize my time indoors reading, studying Japanese, reorganizing my things, cleaning my apartment, and checking my supplies.
Staying at home to self-isolate is not bad at all. I found myself having a lot of time for myself so I take things more slowly than usual.
I’m able to enjoy my meals more because now I prepare them on my own. I also have the time to learn new recipes.
Since I’m usually a very busy person, the extra time I have now because of the coronavirus has helped me to bond with my family and friends.
I’m able to talk longer with my family and friends and ask how they are and have good conversations with them about politics, health, and wellness.
Being Catholic, I’ve also been able to pray more and join online masses and prayer sessions against COVID-19.
I keep a positive mindset by avoiding social media as much as possible since there are a lot of toxic people and fake news that don't help mental health.
Choosing what to see and access is important while being online, especially during this pandemic.
My advice to stay positive would be: check in with your loved ones and friends, be good virtual company, have wholesome conversations, and spread positivity and encouragement especially if you have friends who are working on the frontlines.
Try to stay occupied by learning new things and being as productive and creative with your activities as possible.
Be of help, be charitable if possible, especially to those who are in need of medical supplies and other medical related equipment, if you can and if you have the means to do so. It is virtually possible.
Among this pandemic, there has also been an issue of panic buying. I think panic buying is counter-productive.
One will never know if one has secured themselves stocks because people are buying by impulse. Hence, most of the things bought will be wasted. Being a wise consumer is much more important than being a big consumer. That is a habit I was able to build up while growing up in the Philippines where we were constantly hit by typhoons and calamities.
Panic buying can also harm people who are living on low daily wages or in poverty.
As much as possible, we should be mindful that not all people can afford to buy what they need and we also have to consider their welfare and survival.
In times of crisis, survival is important but you can secure yourself while being kind and considerate to others.
If you can and if you are charitable enough, it might be a good time to offer to help pay for supplies for those in need. We never truly know how our acts of kindness can help others.
We need to realize that our lives are connected to one another. What happens to one of us happens to all of us.
Rie Fujinami (Filipino-Japanese)