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Something Scary Was Lurking Unbeknownst to Me: The Corona Virus
We heard about a virus that was placed in China. It looked like the Chinese had taken control of it, but I wasn’t 100 percent sure. My imaginative, sci-fi mind was always coming up with different possibilities. I guess the logical side of me said it would be impossible for the virus to come to Italy, but I wasn’t ready to accept that it was unrealistic. I had maybe four or five scenarios running through my head, and then there were plans A, B and C in case the much talked about pandemic came. I may have become OCD, a useful acronym in 2020!
Not surprisingly, many of my students and colleagues balked at the idea. We believed that doctors and scientists had all the answers. Well, I didn’t believe they had “all” the answers; nevertheless, smart people in China seemed to have things under control. So, this issue became popular in English classes. Everyone considered each possibility carefully, with many considering the minor arrival of the virus, which was expected to be more like a minor flu. I wondered if I should have talked about it during my lessons. Most likely, this topic will not be very relevant to the life of students. Maybe they should learn business English, holidays, cooking, art and lighter stuff.
People around me looked sick. One of my students came to class with a three-week cough, body aches, and a general sick appearance. She said she had to go to work and take the exam because she had to take care of her husband and young child. As a student coughed at me several times from behind the desk, I tried to get out of the trajectory, fearing it might be Corona – a natural reaction I guess! Even one of my coworkers was under the weather. In such small cabins filled with students and sick workers, there was a possibility of respiratory diseases. I would definitely be armed with a bottle of liquid soap and hand sanitizer!
I couldn’t believe how many sick people there were everywhere and I hoped I wouldn’t be in their shoes. It seemed irresponsible to just come to class or take an exam when you were sick. Thank goodness I at least had the flu shot a few months ago! Is it possible that the vaccine protected me from any infection that is spreading in Italy? It certainly wasn’t the dreaded Corona Virus – it must have been a cold mixed with the flu. That didn’t stop me from suggesting protective measures.
I asked everyone, why don’t we encourage patients to stay at home? However, I knew that the management didn’t care what I thought because I was a foreigner visiting a country where xenophobia was on the rise. I have previously written emails recommending how teachers should meet with administration to develop collaborative teaching strategies. Of course, people who are not interested in teamwork rejected my ideas. I took the possibility of getting sick seriously, so I couldn’t let it go. I wrote to the administration asking why we don’t allow people to stay home or cancel class if they have the flu or something similar. I have not received any response to this email.
Not long after, around February 21, 2020, I heard about the outbreak of diseases in the Lombardy region. Milan was only thirty minutes away by train. Many people traveled to and from Milan every day. I suspected many people were carrying the Corona Virus and for all I knew I was exposed to it. I felt muscle fatigue for about three days. Although I usually fall asleep after midnight, I was tired for three days and succumbed to sleepiness at 10 pm. At this point, I’m not so sure I’m being attacked by a virus; I probably haven’t.
The number of cases increased. According to the report, conditions in the Lombardy region were moving in our direction. I should have stopped taking the train. In 2009, officials implemented contingency plans to eradicate swine flu, but this time, officials did not act quickly enough. Some Italian virologists downplayed the importance of the Corona Virus. The Chinese seem to have taken control of it. Some Europeans and Russians have argued that this is not a threat to young people, while President Trump has argued that it is some kind of hoax. Hospitals said people over 65 died. At that time there were not enough supplies; I’ve heard that doctors will have to make life-or-death decisions, preferring those with less severe conditions.
It seemed that a wave was rapidly sweeping the world. Various, but not all, politicians continued to downplay the threat. I understand that they are trying to save their economy. I questioned what happened in Russia because it gave the impression that the Russian people were not prepared, especially for the Corona wave that would eventually hit. The same goes for the Americans who joked about his arrival. A few people in Germany threw a Corona party to celebrate. It wasn’t long before I heard about him hitting New York City. How can such a metropolis cope with this on such a large scale, with looming job losses and the need to go into quarantine? With so many workers at home, the economy could plunge into chaos!
Half of the world’s people are now hiding from the hideous Corona Virus that strikes people of all ages and backgrounds without distinguishing between rich and poor (April 2, 2020). I’m sorry for turning my imagination into reality and I hope this horrible virus will be gone soon. If lessons are learned, they may be to learn from literature (both fiction and non-fiction), to prepare well, and to help each other. There is no doubt that cooperation is needed to overcome this pandemic.
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