Matters have been escalating quickly the following weeks. As days went people on the Western hemisphere began to realize that the coronavirus is not something exclusive to the East.
The first case of the coronavirus in the Netherlands was detected on the last week of February in Tilburg, where I live.
Apparently, the patient who contracted the virus had been in Italy a couple of weeks before, but upon his arrival in the Netherlands showed no symptoms. So, he continued live as usual and decided to celebrate Carnival in Tilburg.
If you've ever been to a Dutch Carnival celebration, you understand how crowded and personal it can get. There was no doubt in my mind that the virus would not spread throughout the city. After this patient had been diagnosed, other cases began to appear
throughout the country, including in Amsterdam. Every time you'd read the news there would be a different number of people infected.
But up until then there was no real sign of danger or fear. People were a bit worried, as one should be, but things had not escalated as they have done this past week.
While the rest of the world was taking caution and care with forced quarantines and the closing of boarders, the Dutch government was not doing much. At least, there were no instructions other than: Wash your hands and if you're sick work from home (if you can). It didn't seem that it was being taken seriously at all.
I have a teacher friend who was sick to her stomach last week. Her eyes were watering, she couldn't stop coughing and sneezing and she felt really sick. When she e-mailed her boss, they told her to choose for herself if she wanted to go in or not. She's a teacher, mind you. And what did she do? She went to school out of teacher's guilt. As many of us do when we’re sick.
Can you imagine how there are little to no guidelines regarding this virus? People continue their lives, amidst coughs and sneezes.
However, as the number of people infected went up, others began to take notice and to worry. As a result, many took matters on to their own hands.
On Monday I had half the students I usually do in class, and the trains were empty and extremely quiet. Everyone seemed afraid to cough or sneeze. At the cafe where I work, things began to slow down. People had to be sent home because there were simply too little customers.
But the past few days have been by far the worst. Universities are closing and people are buying groceries like crazy. Shelves in some supermarkets are empty. It's bizarre. Meanwhile, the Dutch Railway System (NS) has decided to decrease the amount of daily trains in an attempt to save money. This doesn't help the cause, by the way. Packed trains will cause more harm than good. But even through a pandemic, money still makes the world go around.
Yet, on Thursday the Prime Minister stated that primary and secondary schools will not be closed. So, we're sending kids and teachers to school as if nothing is happening around us.
I am not pro-panic. As a matter of fact, I am an advocate calm in times of crisis. But as a country we are not taking any type of precaution and I cannot wrap my head around it.
Doctors don't want you to go see them if you are sick. So, it is up to us to take care of ourselves. Boost your immune system with supplements, ginger tea and lime, and drink your B12s.
The number of deaths associated with the coronavirus are very low and I don't believe it warrants the amount of panic and anxiety. But we still have a responsibility to be cautious. If not for us, for the people around us. I am young and I am fit, my body can probably handle this virus. But I shouldn't only be thinking about me.
On the other hand, I think there are many pages on social media that spread false information around. This information is being shared by people who should know better. Perhaps this is a good chance to have a conversation on media literacy.
Stay calm and take care,