An International Perspective on the Pandemic

By: Rachel Gonzalez | Contributing Writer

By now, most of us are used to the limitations and restrictions that the COVID-19 outbreak has placed on us. From classes transitioning to fully online, malls and restaurants shutting down, and events being postponed or cancelled completely, the normality of life has seemed to disappear as each day brings more unexpected news.

 In America, we are experiencing lockdowns in various states as the number of cases and deaths rise, now putting us as the number one country with coronavirus cases. Across the Atlantic, the situation is still severe.

Spain is a country that is suffering significantly from the pandemic. They are number three, just behind Italy, with the most cases and deaths.  It is especially difficult for those with friends and family living in those countries and keeping in close contact with them as we all try to make sense of this confusing and difficult time. Angel Díaz from Ciudad Real, a city in the central region of Castilla-La Mancha and an hour train ride from Madrid constantly stays up to date with the situation since it became serious.

“The streets are empty and both the police and military patrol the streets to ensure everyone is following lockdown orders,”  Díaz said. He said that people have been stuck at home for about a month now and they expect it to go on for another month or so. “The hospitals are completely full of ill people, and the local university does not plan on reopening anytime soon,” Díaz said he is taking extra precautions to stay healthy, and hopeful. 

“The nice thing is, at 8 p.m. every night, everyone goes out to their balconies and apartments and we applaud our medical workers to show our appreciation. Sometimes we play music and just keep each other company.”

Noelia Poquet, also living in Ciudad Real, mentioned that she has not left her apartment in a month except for groceries. “I expect it’ll be another month,” she said. “The Spanish capital of Madrid is also a ghost town. The thousands of tourists from all over the world you normally see are nowhere in sight.”

A thousand miles to the north brings us to the country of Norway, where Peter Lie lives in the tourist city of Bergen. The situation there is much like it is in the United States with everything being closed down. “The only difference is if we get the virus we are lucky to have free healthcare and easier access to treatment,” he explained.

Many Norwegians enjoy the outdoors and staying physically active. “Any kind of outdoor activity away from groups of people is my favorite. It doesn’t matter what kind of activity, it’s just a good excuse to enjoy nature.” Lie said. It’s typical for Norwegians to own a cabin near the mountains or the sea to vacation in. “However, two weeks ago, the state made it illegal for people to spend the night at their cabins because they are in rural areas and hospitals there have limited capacity. There just wouldn’t be room for everyone, and you could get fined up to $2,000 if police find out,” he said.

All in all, the pandemic does not seem to be slowing down anytime soon. In this uncertain time, the best we can do is follow all guidelines put in place to stay healthy and support one another, no matter how far away we are.