TRAVELLING IN TIMES OF COVID-19

Updated: Dec 14, 2020

Ever since my family members are scattered across the globe, travel has been my middle name. Cross bordering from the eastern to the western front, from the northern to the southern hemisphere and back, is what I love - and what I am used to - doing most. Meeting up with my sister to spend a few weeks of horse riding and wine tasting ;-) (https://www.facebook.com/Okapuka-Horse-Safaris) in breathtaking Namibia, seeing my aunts, uncles, cousins (https://www.facebook.com/onsoyengaard) and other relatives across my beloved Norway - and spending time with my loved ones in warm and welcoming Portugal (https://www.facebook.com/loft17obidos). By the way, as I am writing this, I realise that entrepreneurship runs in the family, apparently ;-)





Not to mention the different cities and landmarks across Europe I enjoyed visiting with my kids, my sister, my mother or my best friends. Together we explored cities such as Paris, London, Oslo, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Antwerp, Brussels, Barcelona, Siena, Vienna, Genova, Geneva, Hamburg, Amsterdam, Lisbon, to name a few. Travelling enriches your life and I would even go as far as stating that travelling is addictive. I love the sound, the buzz and the excitement of travelling and of travellers, the hellos, the farewells, the tears of joy and of sadness at airports, trainstations, hubs and other landmarks.


How life has changed during the year 2020; a year that has nearly come to an end, a year that is unprecedented and left its marks across the globe. How incredibly sad it is to witness the havoc caused by the disruptive rules, restrictions and regulations around the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. A disruption which was painfully tangible and visible during my last trip in October/November, flying from Amsterdam to Lisbon and vice versa. Despite a number of cancellations by the airlines in the months previous to this trip I had still been able to visit my daughter in Portugal a few times, taking restrictions into account. During those trips, the impact of the pandemic was obvious, but even so, the planes were relatively full.




As said, it was this last trip that caused an overwhelming sense of sadness and desolation. Near empty, (literally!) cold and hollow sounding airports and airplanes, check-in counters closed off, shops, restaurants and departure areas boarded up. No familiar airport buzz of pre- and post-travel excitement, no people hugging, no passengers waiting in line at customs or at bagage belts. Even the background music sounded desolate. Ghost town and war zone visions were emphasised by expressionless and grim face masks.


It is all so surreal and I can’t help wondering who wrote this fucked up (excusez-le-mot) scenario. A scenario which may stop spreading a virus (will it even?) - but throws complete existences, and thus lives, under the bus. I am not - nor do I pretend to be - a virologist or an expert of the likes (as far as the likes exclude a short career as a medical secretary in one of my former lives), and I bow deeply for the healthcare workers out there, but I honestly think that there are a few significant flaws regarding the views on this virus and the way its spread is registrated.


Especially now that it's announced that in the near future, not only those with symptoms, but even people without any symptoms are allowed testing. It's obvious to me what this will do with COVID figures. Suppose we would do the same every time the flu is popping up; what would testing of those without symptoms do with flu figures....or any kind of virus figures for that matter. Wouldn't it be more relevant to only register the number of (IC-) hospitalisations and deaths? Aren't those the numbers that would make adapting policies in all neccessary disciplines legitimate - instead of letting the numbers including those with ánd without symptoms determine whether restrictions are to be tightened or lifted and areas to be closed off or opened up? Am I missing something here? Or is this simply the impact of the (social) media running off with figures that have been taken out of context - with entire tribes following in their wake?


Comparing apples to oranges as far as different countries and cultures are concerned, is far from being helpful either. European countries expressing the need of unification in fighting and treating the virus. Europe pointing the finger at the US, for the lack of a clear policy in handling the virus....whereas Europe as a whole does exactly the same - or rather, fails to (unify). Speaking of pots and kettles ;-)


Then there's the vaccine, developed in a relatively short time span, albeit based upon experience with former COVID outbreaks, which is to be implemented shortly. As said before, I am no expert, but the way I see it is that this COVID-19 virus which is mutating similar to a flu virus that keeps on reappearing in a slightly different shape on a yearly basis, will not be very helpful and successful, other than for the elderly, the weak and the vulnerable. So I'd say, use the vaccine to protect those who need it most, keep on using sanitisers as much as possible and wearing facemasks when recommended and let people and businesses pick up their existences again. Save what can be saved and lose what can be missed. Because, let's be honest, now is as good a time as any to push the reset button. For the record...just thinking out loud here - and no, I'm not a member of the anti-vaxxer team.


I could go on and on...about social and medical security, about pumping millions into symptom management instead of investing in health care, a healthy food industry and healthy life styles...but I won’t. This is as far as my lay opinion goes. Only one more thing:

Let’s not go back to ‘normal’. Let’s go towards ‘improved’.


.

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