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On Coronavirus

March 25, 2020

First came the orders to practice better hygiene, then the end of public gatherings, so that killed our sports seasons on the spot back on March 13. Then came the orders to stay home, the ending of visits to our elders… and here we are. Coronavirus has become the story of 2020 around the world.

Below is a smattering of my thoughts on what we’re facing with coronavirus in Finland and in our personal lives. These are my opinions only, so feel free to disagree with me. There’s so much to say…

Rules, regulations and directions

People have widely criticized the Finnish government for dillydallying around with closing schools and banning public gatherings and so on. Given that we are dealing with something quite unprecedented, it appears that the workings of a coalition government mean that a lot of haggling is going on behind the scenes. I agree that it took too long to close the schools, but it is taking a really long time to shut down the bars, nightclubs, cafes and restaurants. This might not happen until March 28!! This should be with immediate effect considering that the virus is spreading a lot in the capital region. It appears that Prime Minister Sanna Marin is concerned with doing things within the confines of the law. I really think that people are not going to worry too much if she and her ministers have to bend the rules a little.

I give the government a passing grade thus far.

At this moment, the people of Uusimaa (the southern-most province of Finland, and its most populous) are waiting to find out what kind of restrictions on our movements will be put in place. I say bring them on because there have been plenty of people who don’t give a rat’s ass about staying home and reducing the chances of infecting others. It appears that the military may even become involved in this operation.

Social distancing?

What was pretty unbelievable were the reports of hoards of people headed north last week to ski because the hills of the most popular resorts were still open. All I can say is that people are incredibly selfish. Plans were to shut them down this coming Friday, but it was deemed necessary to shut them down last Sunday. More here on that. I am glad the hills got closed early – especially since a couple of positive cases of coronavirus emerged from there last weekend, this was definitely the right move. YLE reported on that extensively. It’s a hard pill to swallow since the skiing conditions are absolutely incredible at the moment.

The shopping mall Hertsi in Helsinki had a grand opening last week in the midst of government restrictions on large gatherings. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw pictures – there were hundreds of people gathered there. What the HELL is wrong with people?

Another report that floored me was the number of doctors that were forced to self-quarantine in the wake of this virus – because a bunch of them met at a doctors’ conference in early March in Lapland. A couple of the doctors who attended the conference tested positive for the virus… THE VERY PEOPLE WHO SHOULD KNOW BETTER!

As it stands at the moment (and we get reports every day) two-thirds of the reported infections are affecting men, the other third women. What does this mean, how can this be interpreted? Men travel more? They work in professions that increase their chance of exposure? They don’t care to follow the recommendations of the government? Who knows? There are certainly a great number of people with a cavalier attitude about this.

The Coronavirus fallout – observations and opinions

Plexiglass walls – here to stay? I was diagnosed with asthma last year. Last week I made a trip to the local pharmacy to get one extra inhaler (because the number of doses remaining is pretty low) and they were installing plexiglass windows at all of the counters. News reports yesterday indicated this is also happening at many retail stores and banks across the country. I get it, but will they be here to stay? I hope not because this will stunt social interaction and make us even less social than before. Everything will feel very impersonal if all of our business needs to be done with a wall separating people. 😦

Psychological effects? The long term effects of reduced social interaction and how we will relate with one another in the future is a concern. I am very worried the lack of social contact over the coming weeks will have a long term psychological effect on people (including kids). Senior citizens report being very lonely already – no doubt social distancing will have an even bigger effect on this population. People will hesitate to have any kind of contact with others. As you know, I coach young kids. It appears I won’t get to see them for a long time. In the past it has been okay to be in very close proximity to them and give them hugs and encouragement during practices and games. I really hope we will not be banned from doing that in the future. 😦

One of the most interesting things I heard a few days ago was a directive from HSY (Helsinki Regional Environment Services Authority). Kleenex (nenäliina / tissues) are to be thrown in the garbage and not into the compost. Yes, we are allowed to compost paper towels and kleenex, but because of coronavirus, we have been directed not to for the time being.

About two weeks ago when the government was getting ready to impose restrictions on large gatherings and closing schools, there was a huge rush at the stores and people were hoarding stuff – it was crazy! I went to the Vaasa bakery where I usually buy bread in bulk, and they said that they had some trying times in the lead up to all the changes that came into effect. Helsingin Sanomat reported that Finns were buying crazy amounts of toilet paper, pasta, rice, flour and preserves. In the days since then, it seems that people are buying a lot of groceries in one go, but are not hoarding anything per se. Reports indicate that stores have stock on the way, but shelves in some places are empty.

Other things that have changed: People are cleaning their houses and starting to renovate. There’s been an uptick in recycling and the hardware stores report being busier than normal. Looks like people are going to get their TO DO lists done.

How things have changed at home

The order to work at home came to me first, then the Miss had to stay home from school and lastly, the Mr. was also ordered home. My company has ordered us to stay home until April 30. I haven’t heard anything regarding the timetable on the school front, and the Mr. hasn’t said anything about the restrictions placed upon them.

So far so good. The Miss’ teachers have done a stellar job in getting the kids online for classes. They even practiced ahead of time in anticipation of the order to stay home. She and her classmates are in daily contact with their teachers in online meetings, so things are getting done.

You know what my kid said today: “I would rather be at school than at home.

Since our ringette and hockey seasons were cut short, we have already put all our gear away. It makes me really sad, I’d certainly like to be at the rink skating, but this is the reality. Instead, the gardening season has started, our bikes are ready to go and things are getting done around the house. I will make a dent in that TO DO list!

I set up a little area for doing some stretching and other exercises. I am still getting over a nasty cold, so I will start using this area soon.

Our dog LOVES that people are home. He is very happy.

We are using more water at home and producing more garbage and compost. It’s interesting actually.

We have a freezer full of food, so we have been getting creative with our dinner menu.

And…

On the larger scale of things, there have been plenty of background articles that give plenty of food for thought. How has something like this emerged with such dangerous consequences? Our treatment of the environment has a lot to do with it, I think. But that is just my opinion. If you are interested in exploring that angle, I encourage you to read this article from Damian Carrington, the Environment editor at The Guardian.

My final words to all of you: A very big thank you to personal support workers, pharmacy workers, nurses, cashiers and grocery store workers, doctors, paramedics, police, fire fighters, dentists, childcare workers, TEACHERS, truck drivers, people working in logistics and distribution and many others who keep the day to day workings of our society going. Tsemppiä!

There’s so much to say and to cover here, but I will leave it here for now.

Stay safe. Wash your hands, Stay the F home (if you can). We will get through this.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 26, 2020 9:59 pm

    Thank you, it all sounds so familiar. Love Kate xxx

  2. Debra permalink
    March 27, 2020 11:37 am

    I don’t agree with your views on the Finnish government and most definitely not with regards to your comments about vending rules. That’s a hell of a slippery slope. I’m glad that the Finnish government is trying to find a balance between minimising the spread, upholding the law and not restricting our personal liberties too much. I’m in a higher risk group but I would not want anymore restrictions on me or anybody else. No big public gatherings, closed shops/bars/museums, social distancing are bearable for the time being but I think that should be it. Locking down Uusimaa with the help of the military gives me severe acid reflux. I think it’s not gonna help. I think it’ll make it worse. There’s already a mass exodus to mökkis because of it.

    • April 20, 2020 9:57 am

      You’re free to your own opinion Debra. I already said so in my post. We are in an unprecedented situation at the moment. Locking down Uusimaa was absolutely the right thing to do.

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