A Coronavirus Perspective

What started as an isolated virus a few short months ago has now spread to nearly 90 countries around the world. It’s in the news every day. You can’t escape it, even if you wanted to. Everywhere you look, there’s an article, video, or some sort of reminder that Coronavirus has made itself known. There’s a lot of fear-mongering and panic-inducing information being circulated about the virus and its impact, and it’s hard to know what to believe anymore.

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m an expat who has been living in Jakarta, Indonesia for nearly three years. When news of the Coronavirus broke, I wasn’t worried. When it continued to spread, the number of confirmed cases and death toll rising, I knew it would eventually reach us. For one thing, we are in Asia, but more importantly, Bali is a huge tourist spot, drawing millions of travelers a year. Someone with the virus was bound to come here, infecting others. The weeks and months passed, and while every country around us had it, Indonesia had still not confirmed any cases. The country’s top health official said that it wasn’t here because the country was praying. We all knew it was just a matter of time.

When news broke on Monday that Indonesia had their first 2 confirmed cases, we all knowingly nodded, wondering what took it so long to be confirmed. What started as a mild concern that it was here quickly turned into anxiety, as a colleague of mine was hospitalized and put into isolation for suspected Coronavirus. That night we decided to close the school for a 14-day period as a precautionary measure and have been teaching online ever since.

When will they run the test to see if they have it? When will we get the results? What happens if it’s positive? Who needs to self-quarantine? These and more questions filled all of our heads, but the answers were illusive. What might make sense in other countries in terms of protocol usually doesn’t happen here. There’s a lot of ambiguity and conflicting information out there, and rumors run rampant. I never know what to believe.

Initially we were told that the test results would be known in 48 hours, but when Wednesday passed, we were left wondering and in the dark. On Thursday we learned that we wouldn’t be receiving the results first so that we could draft communication to be sent to our community. In fact, the patient wouldn’t even receive the results of their test until it was announced in a public press conference outside of the hospital where all of the suspected cases are being held in isolation. I’ve never heard of this in my life. The patient can’t even know first?!?!

Thursday came and went without a result. Friday morning we were told the announcement would come at 1:00pm. I’m sure you’ve guessed it by now, but no press conference was held then either. It wasn’t until this evening that a press conference was held where they announced that Indonesia has 2 more confirmed cases, both Indonesian citizens. The other suspected cases were not confirmed but they weren’t negative either. They were kept at ‘suspected’ status, so no real answers.

Meanwhile, our entire school community will remain in self-quarantine for the remainder of the 14-day period, which means 10 more days stuck at home. Not being able to leave your home is okay for the first couple of days, but it quickly begins to wear on you. I think the things I miss the most are social interaction and being active. Despite being in constant contact with people all day while teaching online, it’s isolating. It’s a strange concept. Interacting with others should appease the desire for connection, but communication through a screen isn’t real connection. I’ll be very glad when this is all over.

The xenophobia is real here, as I know it is in other places. Prior to Indonesia confirming any cases of Coronavirus, local newspapers speculated that in order to avoid catching the virus, one needed to refrain from eating Chinese food and watching Chinese TV shows. It also said that you could get it from “breathing the breath of a Chinese Indonesian.” The ignorance and hate toward people of a particular nationality is sickening.

Much like the information coming out of other countries in similar situations, with the Coronavirus fear setting in, Jakarta has experienced some empty shelves and price gouging. I haven’t personally experienced it since I’m in quarantine, but friends have reported extremely long lines and shortages of particular items in the stores. The obvious one is masks. There are next to none to be found in the city, not that I’d want one anyway, but people are panicking and stocking up. The strange one I find is a shortage of onions and garlic. When you do find onions, the price is ridiculous. The normal price is around $2.00/kg, but due to the shortage and demand, the price, if you can even find them, is between $8.00-$10.00/kg! For onions!

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2020/03/03/panic-buying-hits-jakarta-supermarkets-as-govt-announces-first-covid-19-cases.html

I’m so disgusted by the price gouging I’ve seen. Today in our group chat, when we asked everyone to take their temperatures to make sure they were healthy, a few teachers mentioned that they didn’t have a thermometer. One teacher shared that she had just bought a digital one online and had it delivered the other day, and the price was 100,000 Rupiah (about $8.00). She looked up the link to send to the chat only to find that the same thermometer she bought on Tuesday is now 2,000,000 Rupiah (about $160)!! Insanity! People who take advantage of people who are ill make me sick to my stomach.

Are you dealing with Coronavirus in your community? What’s your perspective?

23 thoughts on “A Coronavirus Perspective

  1. carlambrown

    Dear Aggie,
    It looks like our minds were in similar places this morning. My SOL for today is on this same subject, but from a very different perspective and with my own feelings of angst. While I live in America, I have a diverse array of friends, many who have families in other countries. I have an affection for Latin and Asian culture (as do my four boys and husband), and I feel frustrated about the ostracism towards cultures that has been a byproduct of the global scare.
    Some members of my family are panicking as well, even canceling trips; but, when asked my opinion, I couldn’t help but want to be cautious, but without paralyzing fear. I am saddened for the people affected – and also by the way they’re treated that has nothing to do with being clinically astute.
    Fear can be healthy, keeping us from making poor decisions; but, fear unfounded can be dangerous. I am sorry to hear of your current restraints as the social implications sound painful. I hope, for all of us, that solutions will be found sooner than later. My prayers are with everyone, and I thank you for sharing in your honesty. Well wishes to you and your team and those around you. We’re one day closer to a cure. With Warmest Regards, ~Carla Michelle

    1. aggiekesler Post author

      I just read your slice…definitely thinking on the same wave length. After reading your comment, I amended my slice to include all the xenophobia happening here. It’s saddening and makes me worried for the future. I have often felt in the past few years that we are going backwards. It’s 2020, yet we are experiencing such a divide in the world and there’s so much hate. Thank you so much for your heartfelt comment and your kind words. We will overcome this. It just might take longer than we anticipated or desired.

      1. carlambrown

        I love your optimism. It fuels my hope. This year, quite recently actually, I’ve been saddened by some ostracism felt by my family that I didn’t see coming my way. Ironically, I thought the same thing: “But this is 2020!”

        It’s both disappointing and heart wrenching, but – it makes it that much more special when I meet people who are the polar opposite of it all!

        You are right. It may take longer than we had hoped, but one day, it will be fine. #cantwait #prayingdaily #eternaloprimist

  2. Stacey Shubitz

    I feel for you! Between the isolation and the price gouging, it’s such a stressful time over there for you.

    Pennsylvania confirmed the first two cases of COVID-19 this morning. I watched our governor and surgeon general give an informative press conference. It’s alarming even though it’s 60-90 minutes away from my house. I have a feeling a lot of supermarkets are going to have empty shelves by Sunday night.

    1. aggiekesler Post author

      Thanks Stacey! Today’s isolation is welcome, to be honest. Easing into the day with a cup of tea and reading and commenting on lots of slices, without the constant interruptions of messages and calls and emails is a huge sigh of relief. As the days wear on, the isolation will probably be worse, but today I’m embracing the quiet.

      I keep seeing that it’s popping up all over the US at the moment! It’s a time of uncertainty only made worse by panic and fear. I do hope it doesn’t affect your community. 🙂

  3. Ramona

    We’re dealing with this in Washington with the largest # of cases in the US. I’ve been amazed at how serious and grim folks seem to be. It’s a challenge that changes our lives, but I’m hoping we don’t lose our humanity in the wake of this. We’ve experienced lots of empty shelves. My daughter works in health care, so we’re taking the recommended precautions.

    1. aggiekesler Post author

      I was reading about that today. I can’t believe it, but it’s happening so fast these days. I hope that we all can remain calm and centered during this time. Keep taking precautions and stay healthy.

  4. Terje

    Estonia has 10 confirmed cases and one school closed. So far people are calm and behave sensibly. Our school is preparing for campus close down if needed.
    I hope you have a restful weekend with some sweet moments.

    1. Noël

      Our tech coach is working on a plan in case our district closes due to this virus. I can’t imagine being in quarantine. I hope you stay healthy.

    2. aggiekesler Post author

      I hope that you don’t close, but I’m glad you’re making preparations in case. Thanks…I intend to take a break this weekend. I hope you do, too.

  5. theapplesinmyorchard

    Thank you for providing a very informative post that also gives your perspective on COVID-19. I live in Wisconsin, near the Mississippi River on the west side of the State. We had one confirmed case where the patient has recovered. There have been 39 cases tested here as of today’s news. 14 are pending, 24 are negative and the one positive case is recovering. In the US, as of today’s news and yesterday’s numbers:12 Americans have died from coronavirus and eight have recovered. There are now 215 confirmed cases across the country. I have not heard of any schools being closed.

    As far as the price gouging goes, it’s terrible. And, the mask hoarding is even worse! My husband and I are both retired health care providers, and we are watching the situation closely. At this point, we are more concerned about supplies disappearing and being hard to obtain than catching the virus. We even went out ane stocked up on non-perishable staple items. I feel that the media is really hyping this up (for the US) and is leading to more fear than actually might be necessary. Thorough hand washing and common sense must prevail.

    1. aggiekesler Post author

      It seems to have grown overnight in the US, with more and more cases popping up everywhere. I do hope that the pending cases are negative and that you and your family and friends are safe. I agree with you. People are going to the extreme and necessary precautions like hand-washing are what we all need to focus on. Hopefully it settles down there soon.

      1. theapplesinmyorchard

        I hope so. I also hope that you can find some relief from being quarentined. You made a good point that after a couple days of being “inside” no amount of computer contact can make up for seeing “real” people and having student contact. Take care.

  6. Danielle

    I really enjoyed reading your perspective on this, especially since you’re so close to it. In small town Wisconsin, our admin sent an email just today about the possibility of a self-quarantine and online teaching. Seems a bit over-the-top to me, but I get where they’re coming from. Your perspective was refreshingly level-headed! Thank you!

    1. aggiekesler Post author

      Thanks Danielle. I hope that you don’t have to teach online. It’s really hard work and very draining, but it’s good that your school is starting to prepare in case it happens.

  7. cmargocs

    Here in Austin, not much had changed for me until yesterday, when I received word that volunteers with direct patient contact would be on furlough for the time being; no baby rocking for me in the NICU for the foreseeable Saturdays. Then today, a huge announcement–the SxSW conference and music festival, a HUGE event here in Austin, TX, has been cancelled. The repercussions will be rippling through the city and outlying suburbs…

    1. aggiekesler Post author

      You’re in Austin?! I’m from Bryan/College Station originally. What a small world! That’s such a bummer that SxSW was cancelled. That’s a huge deal. So sad!

      1. cmargocs

        Ah, now the “aggie” makes sense! Yes, it will be interesting to see who still comes to town, not wanting to waste plane tickets and hotel reservations…

  8. karpenglish

    I always appreciate your level-headed analysis of the challenges of being an expat. Reading the comments in reply to your post today is fascinating, because it sounds like across the United States we are getting different information about number of cases, recoveries, deaths, etc., possibly skewed by how geographically close to you the cases are. Not knowing what is accurate and what to do or how worried to be is, well, worrying. The price gouging and supply hoarding is an appalling response to uncertainty.

    1. aggiekesler Post author

      Thank you so much. The comments have been fascinating. This virus is affecting us all in some way it seems. I agree that there is so much out there in the news that it’s really hard to know what to believe anymore.

  9. Susan Kennedy

    Here in Boston, we had a confirmed case from a conference. The additional attendees are being tested and one local district closed school as a parent had attended. The students are beginning to worry in their own ways believing that each absent teacher has the virus. I came home last night with a headache and a sore throat. I am wondering about the ordeal it will be to receive treatment for what is probably a run of the mill illness


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