Saturday, March 7, 2020

Five Things I'm Doing In Corona Times

About 2 months' supply for two people.
I may get one more tomorrow.
Israel is a small country with relatively easy border controls, mainly because we are officially at war or, at best, at cold peace, with all our neighours so we never had open borders and always have strong security at air and sea ports. With the threat of the corona pandemic, the Health Ministry is playing it safe. Quite drastic measures are in place and enforced by law.

There is list of about 15 countries in Eastern Asia, Europe, and the Middle East from which tourists are barred entry (plane loads have been sent back after Israeli citizens disembark). Israelis returning from these countries are, by law, required to go into self-isolation for 14 days.

All gatherings of over 5,000 people are canceled, including the Jerusalem Marathon. All international conferences have been canceled. We are advised not to travel abroad unnecessarily and most business trips have been canceled. Anyone returning from anywhere abroad is forbidden from gatherings of more than 100 people for 14 days.

Between 50,000 and 80,000 Israelis are now in self-isolation. You have to register and they come in hazmat suits to test you. Facebook is full of offers to do supermarket runs and leave supplies outside front doors. We got a letter from DD's school saying that whilst no pupils or teachers are in quarantine atm, some family members are. This is also true of the school where I teach. Some schools have officially closed until after Pesach/Easter but with online lessons and assignments.

A tourist from NYC has the virus and anyone who was in the same place or on the same buses has to go into quarantine. This tourist visited supermarkets and coffee shops in my neighbourhood.

Reactions to Health Ministry directives range from blind panic - mostly from people with real reason to fear they or their family getting sick, or those who tend towards hysterics anyway so if it weren't for corona, they'd be hysterical about something else - to total blase disregard -  from healthy families of the middle age range who've been medically lucky so far. And of course every emotion in between.

A wise friend wrote on facebook -
Can people please acknowledge that management of Corona is a really complicated problem. It requires expertise in mathematical modeling, immunology, economics, epidemiology, psychology and international relations.
Nothing that the health ministry is doing is 'stupid'.
I shared it.

My take on the rigid steps taken in Israel is that they're pitching it to keep us scared enough to take it seriously but not so drastic as to spark mass panic. I also believe that corona isn't going to just disappear, up to half of us will get it, most of us will recover as we do a mild case of any virus, but that it will be easier if it peaks in the warmer weather, and after the flu season has finished.

In the next few weeks, either world travel will be severely curtailed, or corona will be so ubiquitous that it won't make any difference and travel will resume as in normal times.

In light of all this, I too am taking some precautions. I don't fear us catching corona because we are not in the vulnerable age-group nor do we have co-morbid medical conditions. However, I do fear getting it and being responsible for passing it on to people who are vulnerable. To glibly say, "wash your hands and carry on," is, imo, ignoring the very real fears of those who have compromised immunity or children with chronic illnesses. For them it is a terrifying situation.

1. Everyone, including us, who enters our apartment has to wash their hands with soap before touching anything. I'm trying not to touch my face when out but it's surprising how many times one does it without thinking.

2. We are not shaking hands, hugging or kissing even our closest friends.

3. If you were in contact with someone who tests positive to the virus, you will immediately be under enforced quarantine. It makes sense to stock up with at least two weeks of non-perishable food and toiletries. (Btw, shortages in the shops are not due to supplies running out, they are because the supply chain isn't fast enough to respond to immediate demand. They make enough toilet paper for months in advance - it just has to reach the shops. And when this is over, we'll all have enough to withstand any catching up period.)

4. We are trying to eat as healthy a diet as possible with lots of fruit and vegetables. My view is the healthier you start, the healthier you'll stay.

5. We're not making any decisions about future travel plans until the last possible moment. And then we'll weigh up all the available information. (Obviously this may be decided for us.)


  1. All very sensible! I generally keep a fairly well stocked pantry - especially during the winter so I've simply kept things up to date and just added a few things that would be nice to have if quarantine is imposed.
    Cases seem to be added daily but Canada is still under 100 so far. The worrying bit is that we have a community spread here in Toronto (he returned form Las Vegas, felt fine and went to work and temple, using public transit) for a few days before he became ill - his family are all ill, along with the neighbour who took him to hospital and many from his temple are under observation.
    I work at a church office and we also have two feeding programs for city poor and homeless so we are being very cautious. This week we added a notice to the Sunday bulletin regarding precautions, people no longer shake hands during the "peace of Christ greeting", and we are looking at options in case churches are closed. You like to think it won't get that bad "here" but look what happened this morning in Italy...
    I am prepared, but there is only so much you can do and I don't want to turn into my office mate who is now in full "prepper" mode and is starting to drive me a wee bit crazy! :-)
    Take care of yourselves.

    1. My understanding of preppers is that they stock up for years of complete societal collapse, Armageddon, etc... It all falls a bit short when living in a city apartment. You might have food and water for a year but what happens when there's no sanitation? I agree with you that stocking up for a week or two, three or four, even a couple of months, is probably a good idea. Not because there won't be any food, but I might not be in a position to go out and get it.

  2. It’s difficult, isn’t it? While the whole world seems to be going mad one can sort of understand why. Like you, we are not shaking hands or kissing friends hello and washing hands. Not sure we can do much more than that. My husband was upset last weekend because the rugby international in Dublin was cancelled (it was against Italy). I was upset because I didn’t have a weekend just pleasing myself 😄. Other than that I’m in denial. Keep well everyone.

    1. I read that the rugby at Twickenham went ahead because they said it's safer for thousands of people to be in an outside stadium than for froups of up to 100 to be crowded into pubs to watch the match if they held it without spectators. Denial is good. I'm going to denial once I've finished stocking up on supplies.