At the WCIA, we understand that the outbreak of COVID-19 is difficult for so many people across the world. We are reaching out to people worldwide to share global perspectives on COVID-19, recognising the global nature of the issue, and some of the similarities and differences of experiences in different countries. We want to identify and share both the positive and negative stories emerging from the situation.
Paul Cronin is a former British military officer who spent 20 years leading expeditionary operations in Africa, the Balkans, Middle East and Pacific before resigning his commission and moving into the humanitarian sector in 2012. He reached out to Clara who lives in Australia as a personal trainer and runs her own fitness company.
“Last December and January this year, brought swathes of fires that destroyed 800,000 hectares of native habitat and more than a billion animals, with smoke that was so thick it made Canberra the most polluted city on earth. February saw hail stones the size of golf balls wrecking cars and homes, and now along with the rest of the world – Australia is stricken with coronavirus.
“I can’t speak for all Australians but the effects of the coronavirus so far, for myself, have been both grounding and profoundly unsettling. Grounding because, as a self-professed workaholic, the virus has carved out a little desperately needed peace amongst the hustle.
“How long will this last? What is the new normal ?”
“Unsettling because, aside from painfully bringing to light the inequities in Australian society (remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait communities will be among the hardest hit when the health care system inevitably becomes stretched to breaking point), the virus has left us all in a state of existential limbo – what is around the corner? How long will this last? What is the ‘new normal’?”
“At this early stage of the pandemic, Australians are facing the same day to day hardships as the rest of the ‘developed’ world: shops that are out of basic essentials like toilet paper, soap and hand sanitiser; figuring out how to balance working from home, with the stress of keeping young children occupied and educated; finding ways to stay connected with extended family and community as we strive to socially distance ourselves.
“We are not on full lock down yet but expect it any day”
“We are, about a week behind the UK, both in terms of the spread of the disease (at the moment the Australian Capital Territory only has 71 confirmed cases), and in terms of the messages we are receiving about how to protect ourselves. We are not on full lock down yet but expect it any day.
“We can still go to the supermarket to get groceries (in fact this is the only way to get groceries as all home deliveries have been cancelled), and we are still encouraged to exercise outdoors and can congregate in groups of no more than 10.
“Personally, I’m trying to balance an appreciation of this brand new quiet in my life”
“This morning some friends and I stood 2-metres apart in a car park and did burpies – a sparse fitness flash mob. Personally, I’m trying to balance an appreciation of this brand new quiet in my life with worrying about family, getting work done and trying not to despair that things may not return to normal. But then, I’m not really sure I want them to completely return to normal, as 2020’s catastrophes seem like the much-needed wake-up call that the life we were living was neither desirable nor sustainable.”