Daily Blog of Life in Estonia under Covid-19 Day 12-13: 27-28th March 2020
Updated: Mar 28
I have recently been listening to the press conferences by the Governor of Newyork Andre Cuomo. Newyork right now is the epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic in North America and Governor Cuomo has his hands full with one of the deadliest crises that Newyork has ever seen after 9/11. He has a very direct and candid way of speaking, he explains very honestly about his resources, the need for funding and the race to acquire hospital beds and the respirators before the apex of the pandemic is reached and the healthcare system gets overloaded. Today he talked about the silver lining in this whole crisis; the joy of sitting down with his daughters and talking to them uninterrupted, to talk to his mother and their family for hours. It is only in the toughest of times when we see real leaders shining through. One other person I would mention here is Dr. John Campbell. He is a Ph.D. Doctor specializing in healthcare. He uploads daily videos on his youtube channel updating on the current progress on the pandemic. Do check his channel.
Friday was an uneventful day spent at work. I was the only person there. It seemed a bit eerie seeing the dark and empty corridors. Most of my colleagues are working from home. Maybe I should too? But considering that I do not have any family with me here, I am not risking the lives of anyone else. Being holed up in my apartment without going out would probably be more lethal to me than the virus itself. So far we do not have any mandatory requirement to work from home. If it comes to that then yes definitely I will have to stop going to work. I was talking to a friend who told me how her mind has been scattered throughout the past few weeks. I could say the same about myself. I feel my mind is a cannon constantly shooting out confetti. I get tens and hundreds of ideas that I can do, or I should be doing. But the reality is that we are where we are. Even though our imaginations are untethered, we are grounded in reality. We have only two hands. Despite the avalanche of ideas, it is important to ground yourself where you are. Focus on yourself first, then spread outwards to your family, your friends, your community and then your country. Taking responsibility for the whole world will just cripple you.
Circle of concern vs Circle of influence
lots of love /M
Day 11: 26th March 2020
Today is Thursday. There was a fierce debate going in Pakistan whether or not prayers in mosques should be restricted. It seemed that the government finally came to its senses and restricted people from congregating inside the mosques. This had been one anxiety-inducing topic for me. The majority of the attendees in our mosques belong to the high-risk group i.e. the elderly. All of them together would give the virus a free rein to infect them and then they would take it to their families. I am sure that the virus has spread far beyond our capacity at the moment. Just hoping for a miracle now. I took the day off-work, caught up on sleep and read the adventures of Evan Smoak. Then I went to my barber and had a haircut. It was an unusually quiet time, even by Estonian standards. Mati told me how the business has tanked and he might have to close shop soon. We talked about how interdependent we all are on each other. How a bartender working in a cafe is linked to the CEO of Netflix. Netflix seemingly has no direct impact due to the pandemic, since all of its services are online. But it still relies on people making money, so they can pay for their subscription. A bartender who lost its job would think twice about renewing its Netflix membership. Even the richest need middle-class and the lowest wage earners to stay rich. We are awfully dependent on each other. I later went to Fhoone. As I said before the government has enacted new strict measures that prevent anyone from sitting in a cafe, although you could still have a takeaway. I thought it would be a good time to sit there and have a coffee.
Perhaps it was the talk with Mati or seeing the empty cafe that filled me with sadness. Looking at the rows of empty tables where once you couldn't find a chair made me feel for the people who worked there. How many of them had lost their jobs? Not just their source of income but a direction and purpose to direct our energy. Without work, we are just aimless creatures at the mercy of winds of fate. It also made me think about all the daily wage earners in Pakistan, who are struggling to get by, or the millions locked in their homes in India. If anything we should not let this be forgotten, we should record this and then imprint this in our memories so our future generations don't make the same mistakes that we have. Adversity shows us who we really are. It scrapes away the unessential till only the essential remains. And the essential is surprisingly small. A roof, a family and someone to care for. That's all we need. Sometimes I think that this pandemic is nature poking us to mend our ways. To snap out of unconsciousness, to stop distracting ourselves continuously and really look within us. It is only through looking within that we can ever understand the true magnificence of our Beings. I hope this collective experiment brings us all together and whenever we emerge through it we are wiser and most importantly: kinder to each other.
The Government finally came to its sense
But you cannot prevent people from being irresponsible and behaving stupidly. (I cannot verify the authenticity of the photo)
Dr. House: I wonder what he would have said if he saw all those people defying the basic health guidelines and freely spreading the virus.
Day 10: 25th March 2020
Today was a sombre day, the first death due to Covid-19 happened in Estonia. According to the Estonian World blog : The person was an 83-year-old woman from Hiiumaa island who was hospitalized at the West Tallinn Central Hospital on 20 March; the patient had a previous chronic cardiovascular problem.
Also some genius at the sporting goods chain in Estonia thought that it would be a good idea to have a 50% sale both online and in retail stores. What do you think happened next? Throngs of people invaded the stores. The few pictures that I saw reminded me of Black Friday. This comes as no surprise, collectively we are all stupid. The government is considering sanctions against the company. I say get a list of all the people who came there and get them quarantined at home. They have already displayed their lack of social responsibility and they are danger to the everyone else around them.
I spent most of the day at work. I didn't get enough sleep last night. I was hooked on the latest installment of the 'Orphan X' series. If you like thrillers set in the modern world with James Bond Esq style tech and a hint of western good vs bad justice then you should check it out.
The lack of sleep meant that I felt like I was sleepwalking the whole day. It made me realize how important sleep is for us. You could be a healthy individual yet without sleep your immune system gets trashed.
I received a text today telling me that further measures are being taken by the Estonian government to curb the spreading of the virus. More than two people cannot be outside together. Social distancing has to be maintained at all times. Cafes and eateries will only give takeaways and they will have to be closed at 10 PM.
Estonia has been one step ahead in curbing the spread of the virus, at least when compared to other Western European nations. Let us see what the time shows.
The playgrounds for children are now closed. This is one that I pass everyday while commuting to work
Stay safe, stay salty
Lots of Love
Day 9: 24th March 2020
Today is just meme-day, enjoy some spicy memes.
Sorry for ruining your childhood
Good to have a maze-garden and a butler though
The era of influencers and social media celebrities will be gone
I will put a tinfoil hat tomorrow and make predictions about the post-pandemic world. Here is one as a teaser Teaser: Trump ain't getting re-elected
Day 8: 23rd March 2020
Happy Pakistan Day y'all
I spent the majority of day at work. There were quite a few colleagues present. Maybe the Monday blues are myth afterall? Today was the first proper day I started to conserve my attention and focus on myself. I am sure we are in this for the long-haul. So buckle up your seat-belts because this new lifestyle isn't going anywhere.
There was a debate at work whether there will ever be Volleyball in the Estonian island of Saaremaa. To understand this I need to tell a backstory, this is partly hearsay so take it with a grain of salt.
There was a volleyball match planned between Estonia and Italy in the month of March as a part of 2019–20 CEV Challenge Cup. Italy going through the crisis as it was, decided that the match could be played in Estonia. Apparently the players were tested for Covid-19, they were negative and then proceeded to play a rousing match on 4-5th of March. Don't forget that Italy at that time had a total cases around 3000 and more than a 100 deaths. So this wasn't just a Chinese virus then. It had been hustling in Italy like crazy.
A few days later the players fell ill. Tested positive for corona and the resulting infection has now spread to 114 people on the Island (almost half the infections in Estonia). The islands were then put on lockdown, even Estonian Nationals cannot go there (unless you are a resident or you have relatives there). The irony is that the chairperson of the volleyball association himself tested positive for the Coronavirus. So again, will there ever been a volleyball match in the island of Saaremaa or the shadow of Covid-19 will forever be a part of the lore?
Stay lovely, lovelies
Grand Central Station in NYC
The cafe I go for lunch, quite a few people
Day 7: 22nd March 2020
Spent most of the day at home lazing on the couch. Watched Sonic the Hedgehog, the new movie and I loved it. Such great acting by Jim Carrey. That guy never seems to run out off energy. He reminds me a lot of Robin Williams, God bless his soul.
There are a lot of changes going on in Pakistan. The public pressure is increasing and we are slowly starting to understand the gravity of the situation. I hope it is not too late. The bad news is that the Pakistani infection curve is ahead of everyone in the world except Iran but the good news is that we have a predominantly young population. This means that the 'Herd Immunity' Boris Johnson was touting so much about could actually work in Pakistan
I do not feel as anxious as I did before, mainly after seeing the measures the government is taking.
I do not agree with a complete lockdown in Pakistan. We have to be mindful ourselves and take responsibility for not spreading it. The majority of our population lives below the poverty line. We cannot rob them of their livelihood. The government should support in such times. But sadly we are not in the developed world. So it falls on our shoulders to take care of our fellow brothers and sisters.
I went out for a run late in the evening and did see quite a few people walking their dogs. I wonder what would happen if the government in Estonia imposes a France style lockdown where people cannot even walk outside except for essentials. People might revolt and this is Estonia we are talking about, the land of social distancing before it was ever viral
(see what I did there)
Today marks a pivot point for me. For a week I was obsessed with the news and trying to catch up with everything as it happens in real-time. Painfully enough, I had already started to see the effects on my mind. This cannot go on forever, so yeah, I am cutting down on news and current affairs. Focusing on myself, my family and my local community. I cannot take the weight of the whole world on my shoulders, but I shoulder the burden that I can.
P.S: Some memes for chuckles
Day 6: 21st March 2020
The total cases of Covid-19 in Estonia hover at 306. One person is in critical condition. Today I went outside and took a walk. Went through the Kristiine shopping mall, half of the shops were closed, but there were still people around. I sensed a visible distance between people, but overall it did not seem any different, apart from some closed shops
Afterwards I went to Fhoone, It is one of the most populated cafes in my area. Usually you cannot even find a seat there during workdays and it was abandoned on a Saturday. There were a few people there. Majority of them didn't stay for long.
I found an interesting monument in the rest room.
I woke up today with a pit in my stomach and found out that the cases in Pakistan have risen to a total of 733, a rise of 234 cases in a single day. From now on we are going to see explosive increase in cases. We are hovering beside a precipice. God help us
Love for all
Day 5: 20th March 2020
The news from Italy continues, the death toll is rising and it is rising fast. It exceeded the total death toll of China, and China is 23x the population of Italy.
Spent the day at home. I took a break from the news and watched a movie: The Invisible Man. It stars Elizabeth Moss and boy o boy, that girl knows how to act. Such a splendid actress. Also loved the movie. It is a must-watch definitely. I would have gone to the cinema to watch it again if they were open.
I have started to think of the post-pandemic world. I think it is going to change a lot. We are already heading towards a recession. There are already signs in the Estonian housing market, with rental prices falling almost 30% in a matter of days. A recession is not always bad. As Warren Buffet has said that it is only when the tide is receding when you find out who was swimming naked. He might have meant in terms of investments. But I think that a lot of money currently being floated around is being spent on useless ventures. Times like these test the true power of any company, if they are truly useful they are going to survive, or even if they go belly up they will be resuscitated.
Here are some of my thoughts:
1. I said this before in my thesis, but this recession is the formal start of the next technology revolution, the dawn of the Biotechnology and nanotechnology.
2. I think that the toll from the pandemic could run into millions. (I pray to God that this doesn't happen)
3. I think that social media will be radically reshaped in the post-pandemic world. I think that sensationalism and viral content will die. I think that people (public) will start to value radical honesty. Even in the social media sphere.
4. Healthcare will again have a surge, possibly be the most desired profession again.
5. US health care will be totally reshaped for the better.
6. I think the right-wing/ left-wing polarity will tone down. In the face of biological extinction, our minds do not think about the ethnicity of the virus carrier. That will reshape our value system again.
7. China will probably lose its place as the contestant of the dominant global power, I think in the post-pandemic world the companies will seriously start to rethink their global supply chain and stop relying on China so much. I am hoping that developing countries like Pakistan, India and South America will take its place.
That's all for today.
Lots of love and take care of yourself and your loved ones.
Day 4: 19th March 2020
Total cases in Estonia stand at 267, I don't even think it makes sense to count the number of people infected anymore. The real number is going to be the deaths caused by the virus, which -thankfully- hasn't happened in Estonia so far. In Italy the total death toll is touching 3000. The bigger cities have run out of morgues. I saw a picture where a convoy of Army trucks was used to transport the bodies. If this doesn't wake people up, I don't know what will.
Yesterday I was thinking that maybe the big five personality model can predict the reaction of people to this pandemic. My hypothesis is that people high in openness (creativity and imagination) are taking this a lot more seriously than the people who are more conservative. In at least my social circle I see the some correlation. It is possible that people high in creativity and imagination can tend to imagine things in a chain that could be highly unlikely, things that can happen exponentially, our mind jumps from one thing to another. A good example (meme) could be: you have a crush on someone, she smiles at you and then your mind jumps into a hyperdrive and starts planning your wedding , Childish yeah but most of us have gone through this. On the other hand, people who are more conservative tend to think linearly, like effort equals reward for example. I wonder if my theory holds any water and if it does maybe it can be used to model simulations for pandemic response, bringing psychology together with disease prevention.
Went to work today for a while, I was one of the very few people working and honestly I really enjoyed having the building to myself. I really like working in the evenings. For some weird reason, I am very focused and hyper productive during that time. If I ever work for myself, I know what hours I will choose.
Here are some pictures from the day
New sticker on the doorway to work
Kitchen is usually full at this time of the day, now it's empty
The view from my apartment window, it was a beautiful day today.
Stay safe everyone, lots of love ❤❤❤
Day 3: 18th March 2020
The total cases in Estonia now stands at 258. Possibly the most important thing that I learned today was that this virus can effect younger people as well. As confirmed by the below statistic.
Over half of the people in Estonia who have been confirmed infected with the coronavirus are 30-49 years old; the elderly (65+) are only 11% of the infected, the Estonian Health Board says. According to its statistics, the people of 20-29 years of age are 8.1% of the infected, 5-14-year-olds 1.1% and 0-5-year-olds 0.8%. So far, the health authorities have performed just 2,020 tests.
Worked from home today, only person I saw today was the house-keeper who came to repair the roof. I tried cooking a chicken fillet pizza (?), turned out better than expected, for the first time at least.
I think I am starting to settle with the new social paradigm. I wonder how this weekend will be. Currently my workload is a little above average meaning I have little time to think of other things. Don't know what will happen otherwise. Situation in Pakistan is still worrying, talking to my parents every day and telling them to be as cautious as possible. This isn't something to be taken lightly even though a lot of people still do not take it seriously. Nothing I can do about that. It will only take a sudden illness or death of someone close before realization would dawn on this segment of people.
Day 2: 17th March 2020
The total cases in Estonia stand now at 225. In Pakistan there was first death related to the Covid-19. There was a really sharp uptick in the cases in Pakistan. I am extremely concerned about Pakistan because a lot of people are still not taking it seriously. There are still congregations happening and I think that the virus is silently spreading very fast. It will only be a matter of few days before we start seeing the results of the pandemic. Seeing how this crippled the infrastructure of most developed nations in the world. I cannot imagine what will happen if Pakistan has to deal with the full force of the pandemic. I can only hope and pray.
As an immediate measure the congregations in mosques should be suspended. Majority of people who already go to mosques are elderly and we don't curb that fast we will not have a chance at all. The EU announced closing its borders yesterday and implemented today. Already saw on Facebook a student who was turned back from Germany.
Also in Denmark robbers broke into a hospital and stole masks and sanitizers? 👏👏👏
Day 1: 16th March 2020
Update 2: Helpful chart detailing the growth of the virus with graphs, countries can be compared https://studylib.net/coronavirus-growth
Update: Up To date information can be found here for Estonia, official website https://www.terviseamet.ee/en/covid19
Estonia has closed its borders. Citizens and permanent/temporary residents are allowed to come back. Current tally stands around 205 infected people. No deaths so far. Rumours circulating around if domestic movement will be restricted or not. Government clarified no restrictions planned.
We are still allowed to come to work , I went to work at my usual time, significantly less people in the train and the station. Only person in my department working from office. Mostly because I spent my weekend at home and got sick and tired of staying in one place. I am guessing the next few weeks are going to be quite tough.
My health is okay, although I do miss going to sauna. Taking extra care washing hands. Local cafe was open for lunch, although significantly less people and I did notice people maintaining a distance between each other.
Some posts on facebook that I made: