The pandemic anniversary - the world one year on from Covid-19

Surviving Coronavirus in Spain: One year on, Kilkenny native Cathy Hogan reflects on how the last 12 months went and looks forward to the future

Cathy Hogan

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Cathy Hogan

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Cathy Hogan Kilkenny

LOOKING TOWARDS A NEW WORLD: It’s been a year since the first Covid-19 cases were announced - what will the future be like for the world?

Now begins all of our pandemic anniversaries.
We couldn’t have imagined last year that we would still be in the epicentre of this crisis when we would mark these occasions. But I guess, like with how we humans have treated our planet, we are getting a wake-up call in regard to the consequences of our actions.
Here is a timeline of events as they unfolded in Ireland, the UK and Spain early last year.
JANUARY
January 31 - Spain confirms its first Covid-19 case.
FEBRUARY
February 13 - Spain reports its first death.
February 24 - A hotel in Tenerife is put under lockdown.
February 29 - Ireland confirms its first Covid case.
MARCH
March 11 - WHO declares pandemic; Ireland’s first fatality, with 43 infections detected.
March 12 - Ireland begins its shutdown of the country ‘until March 29’; total number of infections: 70.
March 13 - Spain confirms 5,232 infections to date.
March 14 - Spain enters a state of alarm ‘for 15 days’.
March 15 - Ireland closes bars and cancels March 17 St Patrick’s Day festivities. Total deaths: 2; Infections: 169. Spain begins Lockdown.
March 23 - UK announces a Stay-At-Home order ‘for at least three weeks’ which comes into effect on March 26, when there were 100 deaths per day and a total of 11,568 confirmed cases.
About a week into the Spanish lockdown, I was on Irish radio discussing my life here, in one of the first epicentres of the pandemic. I was in a ‘prepare for the worst and hope for the best’ frame of mind, as I still am.
However, I was also in the unusual position of having moved alone to a new country with the sole purpose of distancing myself from my regular life and the people that I knew: self-isolating was my lifestyle choice, albeit with weekly catchups with family and friends back home.

We all soon learned to stop waiting for things to return to normality and awaited the New Normal


I experienced bouts of anxiety, but without children of my own and with both parents having died years before, the challenges of lockdowns and restrictions were minimal for me.
Over a decade ago I ran a closed hostel on the Isle of Iona off Scotland over winter so, in 2020 in rural Catalonia, with Wi-Fi, books, and hens, this was a step up. Apart from a two-week period at the end of March when I probably had mild Covid, I’ve full health so, I’ve rarely felt the effects of the pandemic restrictions.

Of course, I’ve missed out on family visits here and back home, and I haven’t yet met my grandnephews, who were born in 2020. But the knowledge that my nine siblings and their families are happy and healthy is all I could hope for, and more.
First post
This was my first blog post for Surviving Coronavirus Spain one year ago on Saturday, March 14, 2020:
Day Before Lockdown:
On Thursday, I spent 12 hours on a train, a bus and in a taxi to get 630 kilometres south to Vera in Almería, only to have all of my Airbnb guests cancel their international holidays as soon as I arrived at the apartment.
With the State of Alarm imposed yesterday, I’m en route back to Catalonia two days earlier than planned in case travel within Spain becomes restricted with the introduction of Lockdown from tomorrow.
The earlier return meant that I had to buy new bus and train tickets. I just received an email from the national train company here, Renfe, apologising to their customers – I thought they were about to cancel all long-distance trips, but it was just to say that onboard cafés would be closed – phew!
Luckily, I am well prepared with my own meat and gluten-free snacks. And Renfe has even offered to refund Monday’s ticket that I can’t use – that’s compassion! Now to hibernate with my new boyfriend.
Good luck, everyone – see y’all on the other side (or on my holiday to Ireland next month if the ferry is still running).
Update 2021: I never did manage to get a refund from Renfe; and it would be another six months before I could make my only visit to Ireland since Christmas in 2019.
New Normal
We all soon learned to stop waiting for things to return to normality and then we awaited some decent New Normal. But now we realise that this, too, is as futile as Waiting for Godot so instead, we are wondering what Living with Covid will be like.
Meanwhile, we must get on with living, and not just existing in limbo. Disturbed sleep and weird dreams remind us of how difficult we are finding it to process the ever-changing information and rules.
Last year it seemed sufficient to survive short-term. But can we thrive during these extraordinary times?
Here is my attempt to do so:
THE A-Z OF POSITIVITY IN A PANDEMIC
A is for: Appreciating what we have, whether that be our health, a garden, or inner contentment.
B is for: Back to Basics, like Books, Baking and Birdwatching.
C is for: Caring, Calm, Constructive and Compassionate relationships, during this Catalyst for Change.
D is for: Digital communities, keeping a Diary, Decluttering, Doing DIY and enjoying Downtime.
E is for: Endorphin-releasing Exercise.
F is for: Fabulous Family, Friends and the Future. Fact-checking.
G is for: Gratitude, Grace, Gardening, and no more lockdown Guilt.
H is for: Herd Immunity, Home, Hobbies and Honesty.
I is for: Isolating, but not Isolated from humanity. Immune-boosting diets.
J is for: Joy and Jogging on the spot – you don’t need a gym to stay fit and healthy.
K is for: Kicking bad habits, whether it’s smoking or negative thinking. Taking up Knitting.
L is for: The Little things, Learning new lifeskills or a Language. Lifting Lockdown Levels. Love.
M is for: Missing people and hugs. Medicine and Mental health. More Mercy, Motivation and Music.
N is for: Netflix as a treat and not a need. New Norms.
O is for: Optimism and Opportunity. Online: classes, workouts, and parties.
P is for: Propagating Plants, Perspective, and Positivity.
Q is for: Quality time with the elderly, those struggling, and for yourself.
R is for: Rediscovering and Relearning. Restricting our movements but not our spirit.
S is for: Staying at Home, Saving money, Slowing down, trusting Science.
T is for: Take Time out, order a Take-away and enjoy some live on-line Theatre or TV.
U is for: Unemployment payments, Up-skilling.
V is for: Vaccines and Vitamin D.
W is for: Walking. Working from home on Wi-Fi, Watching Wild animals online, eg: explore.org.
X is for: Xmas in February, when most of our cards and presents reached their global destinations.
Y is for: Yoga and YouTube tutorials.
Z is for: Zoom to bridge the gap. More ZZZs!
Keep up with Cathy’s blog on Facebook: CathyHoganSurvivingCoronavirusSpain - or follow her on Twitter: @cathyshogan