On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak of COVID-19 a global pandemic. Since then, the novel coronavirus has spread to more than 200 countries and regions outside of China. Through texting friends from different countries, I learned how COVID-19 has impacted people worldwide in different ways but also how similar the challenge is to all of us.
Tobias | Denmark
Tobias is a high school junior from Denmark. He is an extremely passionate individual that loves to learn and talk about politics. I connected with him when his Christian school visited Eastern Christian High School last year. Since then, we’ve been discussing interesting global issues on Instagram.
Like many Americans, in the beginning of March, Tobias didn’t think a major outbreak would take place in Europe. However, he did recognize a major risk of economic recession in Europe as the outbreak in China could potentially damage the global economy.
However, nobody expected how the situation with the outbreak drastically changed in a span of less than two weeks. On March 11, the same day that WHO declared a global pandemic, I received a message from Tobias, “Dude, coronavirus in Denmark just TOOK OFF! Events with over 100 participants will be banned from Monday. All schools and daycare centers will be closed from Friday…. Private sector workers are encouraged to stay home.”
To put it in perspective, this is a day before Eastern Christian issued an indefinite cancellation of school and ten days before Governor Murphy issued a stay-at-home order in New Jersey. “Something like this hasn’t happened since WW2,” Tobias adds.
Something like this hasn’t happened since WW2
The Danish parliament also passed a new bill where retired nurses and students may be called in to work at hospitals as demand increases. Tobias also explained how COVID-19 continues to challenge the unity of the EU as Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán used the current crisis as an opportunity to make his country more authoritarian by halting elections and allowing himself to rule by decree indefinitely.
Declan | Cape Town, South Africa
I met Declan in Middle School when his family worked at the international Christian school I was attending back in Xiamen, China. After I started high school in EC, he moved back to Cape Town with his family.
Reported in The Wall Street Journal, COVID-19 is now taking off in the world’s poorest areas which of course, includes Africa. In parts of Africa, social distancing can be a challenge where hundreds of millions live in urban slums with poor sanitation.
South Africa has recently issued a 21-day nationwide lockdown enforced by the military. Reading off of a projection from the news, Declan is concerned that South Africa could be the country with a maximum of 350,000 deaths at 40% infection rate.
“South Africa would be the country to get that infection rate,” explains Declan, “We might be the country with the highest infection and death rate soon.”
Declan is not very optimistic about the development of COVID-19 in South Africa. For years, South Africa has been battling diseases such as HIV and AIDS. Today, there are still many people out there with such immunodeficiency.
Junseo | South Korea
Jun is currently an international student from South Korea studying in ECHS as a junior. As EC moved into remote learning in mid-March, Jun eventually decided to go home with his family. However, the journey home during COVID-19 is not easy. Jun was subject to mandatory quarantine for 14 days in his home. His family was required to stay in outside hotel rooms provided by the Korean government.
Since he arrived in Korea, he was immediately tested for coronavirus. Fortunately, the results came back negative. But this only marks the start of his 14-days quarantine. He was required to install surveillance APP required by the government to track his moves and make sure he is abiding to quarantine rules. At the same time, he needs to deal with jet-lag that comes with long flights while doing school in the middle of the night due to time differences. Sometimes he would be able to attend the 1:40 PM Bible class while other times Mr. Bailey needs to record the entire class for him because it will be 2:40 AM in South Korea.
A few days ago, Junseo finally fulfilled his 14-days quarantine duty. He was tested again and the result came back as negative. And he rejoices on the “sacred moment” of deleting the government surveillance APP that he was required to install.
While we are also heavily impacted due to COVID-19 in this country, it is also important to see and understand how many others from all over the world are also in this crisis together. It is important to not only see this crisis from an American perspective, but also a global perspective.