COVID-19 and our lives

covid19 Mar 15, 2020

One month ago when I was busy setting up this blog, COVID-19 was alive and well and growing in China. At that point I didn't even dream of what is happening today. Bangalore and Karnataka are essentially shut down for next 1-2 weeks. Couple of weeks back when things were a little less bleak, mom and dad were calling me and asking us to head for Kolkata. But there was an instance where the airport authorities were unable to detect a positive case that slipped past them and then got detected few days later. (We still don't know how many he infected in between) So I stopped trusting airport authorities by then and decided to not travel. Also given the fact that my parents are around or above 60 years of age. I didn't want to put them in danger. Better me than them. I can probably survive this if I get it.

I've been working from home close to 7 years now. So the social distancing part wasn't that hard for me. My wife on the other hand works in a pre-school, which involves being around waayyy too many people and kids. The management tried their best to keep the school open as long as possible, but the annoucement by govt on Friday (the 13th) forced them to close it down.

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But I don't see an end to this lockdown. Number of positive cases in India is pretty low right now, mostly because we're not mass testing. But I expect the number to go up rapidly. There is a new news articles everyday telling about people who fled from quarantine and then the result came back positive. These aren't really helping.

I'm sort of in a constant state of panic regarding my parents and in-laws, as they are all near or above 60. If it does get bad in India, then the only thing we can do is pray, which in short equals to nothing. We've asked them not to get out of house. That's the only thing we can do at this point. And video calling them and trying to keep them assured that we're fine. They are probably the ones panicking more right now as we are away from home and in a city that's completely locked down.

I think, for a young person with parents, that's the worst part of this COVID-19 breakout. It seems like it's out to get rid of a major portion of the old people. Even if we get it, we'll probably survive. I dont have a major lung disease, or any kind of disease as far as I know. Wife's immunity is not that great but she's young, she'll probably come through. But our parents almost have no hope.

I'm reading about what's happening in Italy and imagining that the same could happen to us next. China pushed through with their tenacity and obsessive testing of everyone in the country. In India, that seems like a distant dream.

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The best defence we have right now is social distancing and I'm still hearing about people attending weddings with 100s of people. Karnataka govt shut down all the marraige halls this week. But BBMP (Bangalore Municipality) commissioner sent a tweet yesterday saying that nobody can stop a wedding if there are not more than 100-150 people there as it's a "part of our cultural heritage" (I'm not kidding).

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India is a different level of ball game from any other country in the world, except maybe China. The population is overwhelming. One positive case in a railway station during peak hour is enough to cause a chain reaction that causes a meltdown. It's a ticking timebomb. We're just waiting for it to explode. The number of confirmed cases rose by 15 since yesterday. We just crossed into 3 digits.

It's really quiet right now. And the clock is ticking.

If anything can get us out of this, it's probably science. Ways to detect positive cases faster and with more frequency. A vaccine won't be that bad but even with current state of science it'll probably take months for one to come out because of the lengthy testing process. Etc.

COVID-19 pandemic is being compared with the 1918/19 influenza pandemic and we're expecting to see a death toll of similar magnitude, if not more. But what changed since 1918 is our progress in science. This will probably be the real test of science in our lifetime. Hopefully this will also be able to prove the futility of all the pseudo-science out there, but I might be hoping too nuch. We already have way too many unknowns regarding this. We don't know almost anything.

If you came to read this post with some hope, I've probably already diminished it. Sorry about that. But do know that you're not alone. Next 6 months or so looks bleak at best. We have to endure what's coming. Sit tight and don't go anywhere. And wash your hands. All we have left is hope.