The Outbreak is a new blog that describes the different ways in which the coronavirus pandemic affects our lives.
At the end of the autumn semester I had the idea to spend part of my hard-earned money on an international trip during the spring holidays. Although many of my friends had planned a spring holiday in the Bahamas, Mexico or other tropical beaches, I was not very interested in these holidays. I’m more interested in travelling in Europe – Barcelona, Amsterdam and Dublin, especially if you pay the same price. I’ve never been one, and a good friend of mine offered to spend the night with him. The nightlife, the culture, the people – when I thought about it, I counted the days before my departure.
The setting was created for an unforgettable holiday, which I was sure would be – and it was.
After I had booked the plane tickets and long before I had to leave, I heard about a virus on the news in a Chinese city called Wuhan. I thought it was weird, but at first I didn’t think about it. Finally, I remembered talking about swine flu in 2009 and the Ebola virus in 2016 and how little impact these epidemics had on my life.
But as time went on, history was made. One day, while tweeting, I came across something that caught my attention: Wuhan’s in quarantine. It was a moment in the light bulb that made me realize that this virus doesn’t look like Ebola or the Mexican flu. And yet, although I am aware of the seriousness of quarantining an entire city in China, I didn’t think this epidemic would affect my life.
A week later, the World Health Organization declared a global public health emergency.
It is worth mentioning that I am working on obtaining the National Readiness and National Security Certificate (NPHS) here in Pitt. These courses teach the NHS how to manage disasters at macro and micro level. In my ENSP course last semester, we discussed KOVID-19 in detail – so you could say that I’ve known about the virus since the first report.
I remember well that my professors discussed China’s reaction to KOVID-19 and its delay. One of the basic ideas that is repeated and emphasized in NPHS courses is that if you do not plan in time for the next disaster, you are not ready for it. Our teachers have made it clear that no one is ready for KOVID-19. Our world leaders should have taken preventive measures much sooner. We were told it was better to act immediately in case of an outbreak – which was not the case.
About a week before the spring holiday a real boom took place. By that time, the outbreaks had reached Iran and Italy, and the first deaths on American soil had already occurred. South Korea also experienced an increase in KOWID-19, but thanks to rapid preventive measures the country was able to nip it in the bud – something the United States should have followed.
In the meantime, I was a little worried about my health during my trip to Europe, but not so much that I had to cancel my holiday plans. I remember thinking then: I wouldn’t worry unless Trump had internal quarantine measures. And the president wasn’t worried at the time.
I told the NPHS faculty about my trip and my itinerary, which included a rave for American students studying in Europe, AbroadFest. They told me I was crazy and doubted my desire to go to the party – not to mention the pandemic. Actually an honest answer, because I was a bit crazy, but – like many young people – I didn’t want the virus to stop me from living.
I came on the 7th. Walk to a friend in Barcelona – my base for a week abroad – a day before the 60 million people stranded in Italy. I remember thinking: Something’s wrong. I definitely caught the virus. I am also concerned that other raves such as Ultra – based in Miami – have been cancelled, but not AbroadFest, and that it is very likely that students studying in Italy will be at this rave.
But I went on my way. I’ve seen all the sights of Barcelona. I took advantage of the proximity to European countries to go to Amsterdam. Despite the best wishes of my teachers and my intuition I left for AbroadFest. I had a great time.
And my vacation isn’t over yet. I was planning on going to Dublin with some friends to do the real work. Unfortunately, we never managed to leave the country. The press reported that many festive events in Dublin, including the St Patrick’s Day parade, have been cancelled. There were rumours that if my friends and I were to go to Dublin, we’d be quarantined as soon as we arrived. We don’t know if it’s true, but we didn’t want to take any risks.
Anyway, I thought I’d have a good time in Barcelona for the rest of the trip. That was until the World Health Organization declared the VIDOC-19 pandemic. This happened on the same day that Covid-19 business in Spain started to grow exponentially. Then I noticed the change in street life in Barcelona. Fewer people were walking around and many shops and restaurants started to close indefinitely. These things gave me a break, and I realized there was a good chance I’d be quarantined at home.
To intensify the hysteria of the pandemic, President Donald Trump – whom we had in Spain in the middle of the night – banned all travel from 26 European countries.
My friends and I hung out at the club during the announcement. Although we later learned that the ban did not apply to the Americans, at first we thought we would be trapped in Europe forever. That’s why we stopped hanging around and left the club in a panic.
We American students all panicked and called our parents when we desperately tried to book plane tickets home. I remember a phone conversation with my mother about how it happened – I was fighting for flight reservations when prices went up and the seats were full. It seems that we were all planning to leave soon, or that we had already left the next morning. My vacation is over.
When I left Barcelona, she was infected with the virus, just like she was in Italy when I arrived a week ago. Which begs the question of why I was able to return to the United States without quarantine.
My friends and I were in the heart of Covid-19 right now, but none of us were in the middle of it when we arrived in the United States on the 13th. Mars quarantined. The customs officers didn’t even ask me if I thought I was exposed to the virus or if I felt sick. The only question they asked me was whether I had brought cattle or products to the United States, which I thought was strange.
I expected Customs or TSA to ask me where I came from, or even if I wasn’t feeling well. I thought our government would take quarantine measures for citizens coming from international flights, but I probably expected too much from them. I couldn’t help but think of the prevention tactics I learned in the NPHS lessons, and almost none of them were applied by our government.
When I came home, I was lying on the bed, thinking about everything that had happened. It was such a rush – the situation developed so quickly before and during my trip. I couldn’t resist criticising the lack of preventive measures I saw during my travels last week. I remember thinking: This virus will only get worse.