Pandemic Diaries – Our new normal

Day two of Phase 1 of the return to normal life in Kuwait. Streets are busy, drive thru queues in the double digits and people out walking everywhere. We took our daughters to the beach at 6:00 am, careful to stay the appropriate social distance away from everyone else standing or sitting along the seashore, dipping their toes into the warm waters of the Gulf.

It felt amazing to be outside, to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine and to relax, for just a few precious moments, in the outdoors. It felt peaceful, almost.

But unfortunately there are tens of thousands in Kuwait still on lockdown, unable even to enjoy the simplest pleasures like a walk on the beach. And even those of us who can go out are still quite limited in what we can do. Parks are closed, malls are closed and even going to the grocery store runs the risk of coming in contact with others who might be infected.

We are both eager to resume something close to normal but still anxious about the deadly coronavirus and the possibility of getting sick. The result is a jerky, awkward rush to reconnect with the outside world while trying to stay as safe as possible.

While my children built a sand castle, masks covering their mouths and noses, I pondered the situation we now find ourselves in. Every day since this crisis began in late February has seemed like some surreal science fiction movie. Are we seeing the end of days? Or like the many pandemics that have come and gone before this, is this a rare but normal circumstance for the human race?

Today’s coronavirus pandemic has often been compared with the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, where the death toll estimates range from 17 million to as high as 100 million. That pandemic came on the heels of World War I and was fueled more by malnourishment, poor hygiene and the complications caused by the war.

I wonder what the people living at that time thought. Did they imagine the pandemic to be the start of the end of the world, the decline of the human race? After having already suffered four years of one of the world’s bloodiest and most atrocious conflicts. Security, stability and peaceful life weren’t a part of their reality.

Nor are they part of ours.

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