Mulikan is living in Italy:
Italy and in particular Northern Italy has generally been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. Working in the NeuroPhysics lab in Rovereto, Italy has drastically changed over the past few weeks. In the last week of February, work was as usual with the honeybees in my lab and people were more relaxed to the preventive measures in place. In the next week, limited people were asked to work in isolated workspaces. But the situation escalated, and more curfews were implemented on a national scale to contain the spread of infection. So now for almost two weeks, I am currently under quarantine, working from home – only going out for food or medicine. My city has few infections compared to other regions. People here are quite balanced - no mass hysteria (particularly no rush for toilet papers!) and generally people follow the protocols. I find this isolation period to be a good time to self-reflect and gather good mind space to work, follow-up on missed hobbies and to take care of myself. This is the best time for humanity to show solidarity to avert this crisis – a strong morale is necessary now more than ever! Though my work directly cannot help the crisis now, I do my part by staying at home!
Hannah is stuck in Nice, France:
I recently completed a Master’s of Genetics and Development in Nice, France and was planning to return to Austria and start the preparation of the Insect Doctors PhD program. Before doing so, COVID19 caused a complete lock down in France and I am stuck in Nice.
Since the lock down, we can only leave home to buy essentials. It is a really nice experience at this time that every day at 8pm, people go out on their balconies and clap for those working in the healthcare system as well as for those working to provide other essential services. Not only is it a really nice idea to cheer on those who keep things going during this time of crisis, but it also brings people together. I have been living in the same apartment for five years without knowing my neighbours in the building across the street. Now we greet each other every day and check if everything is alright. In times of trouble, we need to come together to support each other, even in the simplest of ways.
Jirka works in Germany:
I’m working in a medical laboratory in Hamburg since May 2019. Next to the great number of medical samples we have to deal with every day, the additional COVID-19 samples take a great toll on everyone who’s working there. 24-hour shifts were introduced just to deal with the incoming COVID-19 samples. I’m glad that I can make myself useful in this exceptional situation and support everyone to the best of my abilities. It is essential for all of us to act responsible and work together to overcome this crisis and reduce worldwide casualties.
Luis returned to Spain:
In the beginning of March I planned to visit my family in Spain for 5 days. Then the first Spanish corona patients were confirmed. Some days afterwards the Spanish government decided to close universities, several flights were cancelled and shortly after quarantine started. Currently I am still staying with my family. At least my mother is happy to have me at home during this strange period! Imperial College London, for whom I was working for, contacted us (the PhD student I was there for and myself as an RA) the previous Saturday (21st March) and said to get back ASAP from fieldwork as we could be stuck in Puerto Rico (PR) for up to 9 months. So the following day we were on what was one of the last planes out of the US to the UK. Arriving Monday 23rd morning in London, I decided to get to Wales the same day in case of a lock down. I had already done one week in PR and was warned by friends that were aware of the forthcoming lockdown in the UK that it would be soon. I had been in a more strict lockdown so the British one is not so bad in comparison, especially living in the countryside.
Robert Pienaar working in South Africa:
After completing my MSc I am working as a data technician/research assistant for the Marine Natural Products Laboratory at Rhodes University in South Africa. COVID-19 had so far been fairly restricted in South Africa, it took a while before our local transmission numbers rose significantly, most cases were tourists or South Africans who had travelled from high-risk countries and had contracted it from being overseas. On the 23rd of March, we had a country-wide lockdown for 21 days. While I was still at a low risk of contracting COVID-19 in Makhanda (Grahamstown), I moved back to Johannesburg premature to my original leaving date to be with family for the 21 day lockdown. Now I am working remotely from home. A high number of South Africans is being highly immunocompromised due to i.e. poverty, the HIV and TB epidemics. The number of cases has skyrocketed in a short time, which is terrifying.
Loretta lives in Kenya:
Kenya confirmed its first case of coronavirus half of March and since then the cases have risen to 31. Stringent measures have since been put in place to contain the virus with the latest being a strict dusk to dawn (7pm- 5am) curfew and closure of all non-essential businesses. As of now, we are grateful that the virus has not spread to our highly populated and congested informal settlements. On a less somber note, as a country we yesterday celebrated the full recovery of patient-zero and the fact that no fatalities have been recorded. For now, I continue to do my part by staying home to help in #FlatteningTheCurve.
Edouard returned to France:
As the pandemic of Covid spread and Côte d'Ivoire closed its borders, I was doing an internship in Bouaké, Ivory Coast with the Institute of Research and Development (IRD) and a local institute, Institute Pierre Richet (IPR). The French embassy decided to repatriate all temporary employees. Currently, during the confinement, I live in Paris and keep focused on writing my research report and data analysis. I hope that the local team and I did collect sufficient data before I had to leave Côte d'Ivoire.