Living in the Eye of the Storm

What happens when the world around you looks uncertain?

By Dulce Zamora

In the last day or so, we’ve been getting notices from the kids’ school and activity centers with almost everything related to assemblies cancelled (festivals, shows, games, etc.) in an effort to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus. Our school even mentioned teaching the kids how to access a new online learning platform in case of an institutional shut down.

My girls’ school and Singapore have always been great with communication and preparing for different situations so I was not surprised. I had a feeling something more was up, though, so this afternoon I put in an order for food and essentials and shopped for next week’s groceries at the supermarket.

Sure enough, a couple of hours later, Singapore raised the country’s emergency alert to Orange, which is one step below red and the same category as the SARS outbreak in 2003. In our community, we now have local transmission not linked to travel in China. One Singaporean guy even attended a Chinese New Year lunch with colleagues the day he cane down with a fever.

Soon after, I started hearing from friends about insane grocery store lines and empty shelves all over the country. Popular online stores such as Amazon Prime and Redmart ran out of delivery slots.

There are people who may scoff at the alarm bell being raised, but that scoff is coming from a sure place of privilege. While the novel coronavirus is not as lethal as some other ailments, it is spreading fast. Singapore is a small country. If there is widespread contamination and the virus mutates into something worse, there would possibly not be enough hospital beds, quarantine spaces, and supplies. So, the government is being proactive.

On a regular day, Singapore always runs out of stock of favorite products because almost everything has to be shipped here. This is an ultra modern country, medical care is top notch, and you can find almost anything here, but the country just doesn’t have the volume that the U.S. or other industrialized countries do.

The Singapore government has also done an excellent job of communicating with people. Here are some of the texts we received from official channels:

I’ll tell you what is plentiful: the best of the human spirit. People are generally helpful and look out for each other, even cracking jokes in this uncertain time. In an FB forum I belong to, a woman posted a picture of a grocery cart filled with toilet paper, Kleenex, and food items. Her caption read: “The moment you realize that the mixer for the G & T would have to wait till next time. (And there are 150 more trolleys like this one in the queue.)”

You bet I gave my girls an extra hug tonight, and am eagerly awaiting my husband Noel’s return from a business trip outside of Asia. Sometimes all we can do is to live in the present, to be grateful for our blessings, and to breathe. My family and I have situated ourselves in the eye of the storm, and it is calm here.

© 2020 Windswept Wildflower

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