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The house arrest continues

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Trying to cook while on the lockdown #covid19, Panama, March 2020

The COVID-19 lockdown continues. So far, today, it has been the most difficult day since we are on the lockdown… For some reason, I have been feeling particularly down. I am glad the day is coming to its end. Time to bed soon, and tomorrow is another day - hopefully a bit more cheerful.

We still do not have a clue how long the lockdown in Panama will go on for. My take is that at least 3 more weeks, but possibly more. The peak of the outbreak has not yet arrived to the country, and from what I understand it should happen in around 10 - 12 days.

Even if I am down today, I also realise that I have nothing to complain about. At the end of the day, I am fine, safe and well looked after, unlike many people in the city and in the country, who already start getting desperate. The economic hardships which are caused by the COVID measures are tremendous across the whole continent. As thousands lose their jobs and the authorities do not step up providing any kind of social assistance, many people go into debts, and simply do not have enough to eat. This shows… Panama is already experiencing first examples of shop looting and unrest. If no proper assistance arrives, I am afraid the unrest will continue, and individuals and communities at large will pay a very high price for the poor management of supporting the most vulnerable. Now, if this is already a reality in Panama, I am trying to imagine what it must be like in countries which are less fortunate, here in America, or elsewhere in the world. Just yesterday, I had a chat with a colleague of mine, who told me that in Quito, the capital of Ecuador, the situation is desperate as well. People are frustrated for not being able to have access to food and medicines. In the whole of Ecuador, she tells me, the humanitarian agencies estimate that 5 million (yes: 5,000,000) people in urgent need of food assistance… I do not dare contemplating other countries.

And now, we are reading that COVID-19 is making its way to Africa too. I was just trying to comprehend what it will mean for communities over there. What is going to be the level of suffering, unrest and economic fall-down; or how severe will the health/sanitation crisis be in cities such as Kinshasa, Cairo, or Lagos? Just a thought of it makes me absolutely terrified.

Then, while international community and governments do not seem to be stepping up (with some notable exceptions) to the challenge of solidarity, there seem to be lots and lots of examples of such on the community and individual level. And this is across the world, regardless of people's status. It is perhaps not enough yet, and we definitely need need much more effort of the politicians and decision makers of all of countries and international institutions, but these examples of humanity and selflessness offer hope!

I do not feel like writing about what we do professionally to address the challenges of COVID-19 today. I am tired of dealing with work, so I will skip it for another time. Today, I just wanted to vent…

Good night and stay strong, safe and well, wherever you are!