When I finally moved to Gdańsk with my wife on February 18, I was looking forward to doing up my flat, taking walks around Gdańsk and Sopot and breathing fresh life into my career as an English language teacher. In February, the thought of a mass outbreak of coronavirus in Poland and the country going into lockdown was inconceivable to me. However, this epidemic threat is very real and very frightening …
On the days of March 12 and March 13, I noticed that something wasn’t quite right in my local supermarket, Carrefour, in Galeria Morena. Rice, flour, pasta and potatoes were in very short supply. Antibacterial handwash was nowhere to be found. Don’t get me started on toilet paper, and the nonsensical individuals who fill their trolleys with countless huge packs.
Governments the world over should have nipped panic buying in the bud right away. Allow people to buy no more than two packs of toilet paper, two packets of rice and one bottle of hand wash at a time – and find a way to not let them enter a supermarket twice on the same day. Poland is not going to run out of food and toilet paper, but this is still time for hard line measures to stop people from being selfish. If people are able to keep a distance of one metre from each other whilst standing in a queue, I’m quite sure they’ll quickly adjust to “laws against panic buying”.
Coronavirus in Poland is affecting many different people in so many different ways. Poles and non-Poles. I’ve just read a story about a British couple who are stranded in Poland after Ryanair cancelled its flights out of the country. To make matters worse, the male half of the couple is on medication for blood pressure and his tablets will run out today .
Everybody is fighting their own battles – some trivial and some life-threatening. Just last Thursday, I injured my eye and I was able to get it checked out on Friday morning. My eye doctor told me that the clinic would send me an SMS on Monday morning to tell me when to come in to have a check-up. Of course, this private clinic closed down due to coronavirus, and I didn’t hear a thing from them. The injury doesn’t seem to be too serious, and I have some eye drops to see me through until the end of March. But I do wonder – what about all those people who are scheduled to have very serious, even life-saving, operations these days? It’s frightening.
In regard to coronavirus in Poland, it’s hard to say whether the Polish Government is doing a good job. It’s messages of “Zostań w domu” (“stay at home”) have had the desired effect – people are staying at home. The 10-day border lockdown came into effect on midnight Saturday. But it should have been brought into force much earlier. Shops, museums, cinemas and so forth have understandably closed.
In recent days, I’ve been constantly checking gdziewirus.pl to see the latest figures and which cities have newly-infected patients. The figure for Gdańsk is eight – low in comparison to Łódź (31) and Warsaw (37). I just don’t want to see the figure in Gdańsk hit the 100 mark.
It’s Tuesday today, but it feels like a Sunday. Looking at all the cars parked outside, it seems that not many people have gone to work. Aeroplanes are no longer flying over my building.
There is silence outside. The sound of silence.