From Singapore to Sydney: Women around the world tell us how coronavirus is impacting them

In the midst of the Coronavirus crisis IMAGE has reached out to women all over the world to hear how the disease is impacting their lives and their country. Below are excerpts from each woman's story.


Alex Young and her two and four-year-old girls have not left their apartment in Barcelona, Spain for 16 days. 

We are in the “lucky” category of those in lockdown. The most difficult thing we have to contend with at the moment is the boredom and subsequent stir craziness of our two-year-old and four-year-old girls, who have not left the confines of our 90sm apartment in 16 days.

Our interactions outside our house are limited to food shopping and dog walking. Even our Amazon post is now left in the elevator by the delivery personnel to be collected by us when it reaches our floor. Our food shopping is done slowly and only by my husband who is the designated "Go Outsider".

Not all the sick are elderly. Not all the doctors are well enough to work, but the help is short and the time to act is short and the demand is great

Our friends here who work as Doctors tell us that inside the hospitals the day to day is much darker. Terrible, life-ending decisions are being made daily due to the lack respirators and breathing apparatus and to the overwhelming demand for them. Not all the sick are elderly. Not all the doctors are well enough to work, but the help is short and the time to act is short and the demand is great. Spain came late to the party in reacting to the then-emerging existence of Covid - 19 and are now paying the price. Social distancing was a preventative method. Social isolation is a containment strategy.

You ride the waves of peace and tranquility and boredom and frustration but you go to bed knowing both you and your children and your partner are well and right now, the currency of health is priceless.

Living inside your home for 16 days gives you a clear picture of what is important - your family, your friends, your home, your health. The small things become important - cleanliness, patience, teamwork, collaboration, a sense of humour. You ride the waves of peace and tranquility and boredom and frustration but you go to bed knowing both you and your children and your partner are well and right now, the currency of health is priceless.

That is why #yomequedoencasa (Istayathome). We urge everyone do to the same.

Read Alex's full extract here


Charlie Wright is a Project Manager living in Singapore, she is originally from the UK 

Singapore was one of the first countries that had a confirmed case of COVID-19 outside of China... Everyone must have their temperatures taken to enter most public areas; my office, gym, beauticians, some condominiums; and if your temperature is over 37.5 you get turned away and sent straight to the hospital. On average, I have my temperature taken 6 times a day and even though I know I am not unwell, there’s always a small part of me that worries I’ll be over 37.5.
Around 8pm every evening, the government sends a message containing numbers
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One of the things I think which has worked incredibly well and has prevented the spread of “fake news” is the daily WhatsApp chat locals and residents can sign up to. Around 8pm every evening, the government sends a message containing numbers on how many new cases there were that day, how many have recovered, how many are still in hospital and they also use this messaging service to update on any travel restrictions or social distancing suggestions.
If I were to leave Singapore to come back to the UK for a week, I would not be allowed back into Singapore. And there is no telling when they would lift this ban. The hardest thing for me is not having the option to get home and see family.
Despite all of the uncertainty and amidst the occasional tears, I really do feel safe here. The medical facilities we have access to are second to none
Despite all of the uncertainty and amidst the occasional tears, I really do feel safe here. The medical facilities we have access to are second to none, and the government have announced they will cover all expenses relating to COVID-19, even for work pass holders. After a few weeks of being in self-isolation, I am learning to take the rough with the smooth.
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Eimear Varian Barry lives in the UK with her three children but is originally from Cork. She is a photographer and a content creator. 

I think Ireland had the right idea but Great Britain, where I am currently living, left it too late. People in both nations were congregating when they should have been inside. I laughed at people stockpiling a few weeks ago. I thought everyone was being dramatic and overreacting. But the minute I heard Ireland was closing the schools, I took it seriously.

What really petrified me was when I got a temperature and a headache... I went into a deep depression and a panic like I had never known before
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I took the kids out of school a week early. I went into a panic. I was high on adrenaline for the day. I went to the supermarket, bought some food to tide us over for a few days, collected Saoirse from school and went into isolation.
What really petrified me was when I got a temperature and a headache. While watching the news, I saw people in their 30's with no underlying health conditions, dying from the virus. I went into a deep depression and a panic like I had never known before. I felt better on Saturday but not mentally. It's easy to say "it'll be ok- stay strong- mind over matter!" But sometimes, I'm just not strong enough. We're all going to go through waves emotionally and THAT'S OK.
I'm spending a lot of time with the kids and doing everything at a completely different pace... which is what I'm loving. That's definitely a positive from all of this.
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Mary Fitzgerald is a writer originally from Cork and now living in Marseille. 

Early each morning, I sit at my kitchen table and fill out my ‘attestation’ - the signed document everyone living in France is legally obliged to carry with them whenever they leave their home... we can only leave our homes for a limited number of reasons: to buy food or medicine (all shops and non-essential businesses aside from grocery stores and pharmacies are closed), for medical assistance or for short, solo exercise but only within a 1km radius of one's residence...

My favourite neighbourhood boulangerie remains open - freshly baked bread will always be considered an essential in France - which means a daily supply of their delicious sourdough baguette.

I have stocked up on Provençal olive oil and wine produced from Marseille’s hinterland.

We haven’t experienced any of the panic buying happening elsewhere... I have stocked up on Provençal olive oil and wine produced from Marseille’s hinterland. Also the famous Savon de Marseille, an olive oil soap made here since the Middle Ages which has seen a recent uptick in sales due to more vigorous hand washing.

Resilience and solidarity

I have lived and worked in many trouble spots where lockdowns and curfews were common

Throughout my career as a foreign correspondent for the Irish Times and other media, I have lived and worked in many trouble spots where lockdowns and curfews were common. I’ve been sharing tips with friends who are experiencing this for the first time: the importance of sticking to a routine, of getting exercise, of eating well, and staying in contact with family and friends. Zoom cocktail hour has become a regular in my diary. A brunch I was due to host this weekend will now happen on Zoom.

I time my evening run to coincide with what has become a become a nightly ritual across France: the cheering for medical and other essential services personnel

I time my evening run to coincide with what has become a become a nightly ritual across France: the cheering for medical and other essential services personnel helping the country get through this challenging time. As I jog around Marseille’s deserted Vieux Port, a wonderful cacophony rises from the city as people pay tribute by applauding, ululating or even banging on pots and pans. It is incredibly moving.

Read Mary's full extract here 


Emma Priestman is originally from Dublin and now living in Sydney

Our first trip home as a family with our firstborn (now three-months-old) was an extended 2-month holiday in May back to Ireland...  Needless to say, the strict travel ban now in place as a result of COVD-19, and perhaps more specifically the ambiguous length of that ban, has been a hard blow for our family to take... home has now never felt so far away.

The travel ban is just one of many measures that the Australian federal government has announced recently. These harsher measures have been introduced as a result of questionable behaviours (credit Bondi Beach) which illustrates just how difficult Australia is finding it to adjust its outdoor lifestyle.

People are increasingly influenced by the attitudes, actions and experiences of their native countries

Given the eclectic mix of people and nationalities in the major Australian cities, the source of news, hearsay, and advice can in some instances be very different. People are increasingly influenced by the attitudes, actions and experiences of their native countries.

Inconsistent

Right now, you can’t attend a relatives funeral (with more than x people) but you can get your weekly blow-dry if it can be done in under 30 mins.

Right now, you can’t attend a relatives funeral (with more than x people) but you can get your weekly blow-dry if it can be done in under 30 mins. And the matter of schools is still unresolved, with the Federal Government recommending schools remain open whereas some states choosing to close them (Victoria the first to move). The consensus here is, it’s all a bit confusing.

I would like to see Australia roll up its sleeves and unite in the way it did during the recent bushfire crises

I would like to see Australia roll up its sleeves and unite in the way it did during the recent bushfire crises. I’ve no doubt that whatever happens next across the world, we will all come to appreciate what truly matters; reunions will take a different meaning, special occasions will have a new layer of celebration, a hug will reach through to the bones, and for us… the emerald isle will never look so good.

Read Emma's full extract here 


Read more: Mary in Marseille: 'I have lived and worked in many trouble spots where lockdowns and curfews were common'

Read more: Alex in Barcelona: 'My kids and I have not left our 90sm apartment in 16 days'

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Read more: Charlie in Singapore:  'In Singapore on average, I have my temperature taken 6 times a day'

Read more: Eimear in Surrey: 'I got a temperature and a headache. I went into a deep depression and panic'

Read more: Emma in Sydney: 'I have to say, home has never felt so far away'

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