The coronavirus has affected all of us, at the very least because of the very reason we all visit and enjoy Bavarian Football Works: Bayern Munich. The Champions League has been postponed, the Bundesliga at last gave in and called off the last matchday, and international soccer has ground to a halt.
Beyond the world of sports, though, odds are that the COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic is affecting you in ways much more personal than our shared fandom. That is definitely true of the writers at BFW. We are a very diverse group, spanning the globe from Hong Kong all the way to Seattle, Washington. I asked the team to share some of their experiences thus far into the pandemic. Here are some of our stories. Share yours, if you would like to, in the comments below!
Fergus — Hong Kong
Unlike places in Europe and North America, Covid19 has been all the news here in Hong Kong for over two months. The government has done a good job of containing and stopping the spread of the virus. Especially so, considering HK’s close proximity to and relations with China.
HK also boasts world experts in infectious disease and much of the population has already dealt with a threatening outbreak before, SARS in 2003. Therefore, there is a good mentality and understanding in regards to treating the disease — for example, everyone wears masks, washes their hands, and temperature checks are common merely for entering buildings etc... Moreover, travelling from the main infected countries (e.g. China, Europe, Japan) requires a 14 day quarantine upon arrival.
But all the precautions being taken have greatly changed life in the city. For example, my school’s been closed for 6 weeks, 95% of sports have been cancelled, restaurants and local businesses are struggling, and many people are working from home. There was also panic-buying initially, although the shelves have been restocked since the initial worries.
Importantly, the government quickly said that healthcare in regards to the virus would be free, therefore encouraging people to get tested and/or not put others at risk.
Josh — Barcelona to Chicago or bust
I was in Barcelona on a trip with new friends when news of the travel ban to the USA was announced. We were mostly Americans traveling around Europe (I live in Germany for school) so we collectively freak out.
We spent the next 3-4 hours on the phone in a waiting room for United to change my flight. We didn’t find out Americans were exempt from the ban until the next day. Various US officials in Europe told us, though, it was still plausible we would not be allowed in even though we were American citizens. So naturally we all spent the rest of the night booking immediate flights out of Europe for the next day or so.
When I got to Barcelona airport, most, if not all of the stores and kiosks had abandoned cash transactions for credit cards. The lobby of the airport of departures was pretty hectic with people scrambling to figure things out. Inside security, though, the airports were pretty quiet, and I made it back to Heidelberg to pack.
The following morning I went to Frankfurt to catch my new flight home. It was a madhouse. Multiple levels of security. I was asked numerous questions about my German visa and we had a separate security check-in for our flight, and after about 35 min of walking, yet another security checkpoint before the gate.
About 80-90% of the people there were Americans who had all been yanked out of their study-abroad programs and forced to go home all across Germany. There was confusion at the gate because every seat on the flight was booked. People had to check their carry-on bags because they wouldn’t fit on the plane, and some people even had to leave their bags in Frankfurt to be sent later. I flew with my carry-on on my lap.
It was all a shit show. I’m glad to be home. The feeling of suddenly being stuck in Europe and unable to go home, while information constantly changed as more cases of coronavirus and more shutdowns ensued — it was incredible to say the least.
Davis — Bonn, Germany
Though there are more than 2,000 cases in Germany, not too many have been in Bonn. Hand-sanitizer and soap have long been sold out, and the selection of canned food and toilet paper is limited. I will start working from home from time to time as Germany finally comes to terms with the situation. Bayern Munich did not respond to any of my accreditation requests (I was awaiting conformation/rejection for the Chelsea game) before the Champions League and Bundesliga matches were postponed. No one I know has the virus, even though I have relatives who live a town over from the Webasto auto parts manufacturer in Bavaria that had a minor outbreak.
Otherwise, lots of rain has caused the Rhine to almost overflow again. My baby daughter is happy and smiling through all of it, and let’s just say my wife has been in self-isolated quarantine for the past six and a half months.
Jake — Syracuse, NY
Let me start by saying, I hope you all are taking care of yourselves and staying safe.
To watch Bayern be so good this year, to have all the momentum in the world only for this disease to stop it all is so saddening. But outside of Bayern, there are two sports that are also incredibly important to me: college basketball and hockey. On Thursday, I hoped that the basketball tournament would be played behind closed doors and UConn might make a run to the NCAA Tournament. When the conference and then the entire NCAA Tournament was cancelled, I burst into tears. And like Bayern, the Bruins had all the momentum in the world and were the best team in the league, only for the season to be paused. To lose all of the sports I love in one fell swoop made me feel like the whole world was crashing down.
But there’s more to my sadness than sports. Listeners of the podcast will know that I’m a student at Syracuse University. I’m a senior, and we are now moving to online classes. Most of us believe we will never come back to campus. The reality for me is this: I’m not going to walk at graduation, the time I thought I had to say goodbye to friends and professors is gone. I feel personally robbed of what little precious time I had before really becoming an adult. All I can do now is move forward, just like the rest of us. We will move forward, a ball will be kicked in anger and soccer will be played again.
Thor — Bangalore, India
India so far has 82 confirmed cases and 2 deaths (a 76-year-old man in our state, the other an 82-year-old woman, feels really bad for them).
I live in Bangalore, Karnataka, the largest state in South India. The population density of our state is surprisingly much less compared to neighbouring states. But Bangalore is a huge hub for the IT industry, so lots of people from different parts of the country and the world travel in and out. IT traffic has become a big source of the confirmed cases so far, while Indians returning from the gulf are the other. So far, most of the cases are in an area called Whitefield, the IT side of the city.
At home, things are fortunately all well. I picked up a cold and cough due to the seasonal weather change, nevertheless I stayed at home. I was it was just the flu because the hospital which does tests screened me out based on the questions and travel history. I had only been to my college. Any trace of a virus there would spread like a wildfire on steroids because of the hostel conditions and the sheer number of people living in small spaces.
If there’s one thing I’m worried about, it’s that the hospital in which my sister is doing her course to become a doc has around three confirmed cases admitted.
The state government declared a two-week suspension of all colleges and schools, because of how many students commute in public transport, so I hope her college follows suit. My Uni already made the official statement, so I’ll be at home mostly at home. A bit of an overreaction but we can never measure how much damage we’ve avoided until we fight the war, so I believe its a necessary step considering our population density.
Gopika — Kerala, India
Kerala has now reported over fifteen coronavirus cases. Actually, it was the first state in the country to cure all the patients who had the disease. But then, three people came from Italy on vacation and they somehow dodged the airport security. It might sound ludicrous but these people (a dad, mom and their son) visited around three hundred different spots within a week. They went to a dozen of their relatives’ houses, theatres, church, restaurant, government offices etc. and used all kinds of public transportation. Their relatives were actually the first people to seek medical help and that’s how the officials found out about them. What’s worse, they refused to go to the hospital even after the people who came in contact with them were isolated. So that’s how the virus returned to Kerala.
I’m actually very proud of everything the government is doing but also a little sad about how irresponsible some people are. The health ministry successfully tracked all the places these people went, including all the bus/cabs/trains they travelled in and created a route map so that they could find the people who might’ve come in contact with them and isolate them. It’s still spreading tho, which we hope we can control.
Well, mom called me today to let me know that two British tourists ran out of an isolation ward from a medical college near my hometown and travelled around 100 kms by train today. I no longer know what is inside people’s brains.
I’m in Tamil Nadu now and a few people near me are suspected to have the virus. I want to go home so badly, but Kerala will be in lockdown soon and I can’t go now because my model exams are starting this Monday.
Living in Sweden, with a sister living in Scotland and parents living in Belgium — an unfortunate thing about the corona virus is the uncertainty of who can travel where and what airports will be closed. My sister had to cut her university term short as my mother wanted her to go back home before “they close down the island” (my mother’s words). My parents’ trip to see their parents in Sweden is in jeopardy, as we don’t know what will happen in a week when they were supposed to travel.
As for me, I’m doing fine and got back to Sweden today (13 March) after a week-long holiday in Scotland. Travelling through three airports was a bit surreal but an act of kindness helped me through it. On my way to Scotland, I sat alone and had a beer at the Amsterdam airport and started a conversation with a few Scottish guys and a very social Dutch bartender. On my way back a week later, I sat at the same bar alone yet again. The bartender recognised me and gave me a free beer. It’s the little things in life...
Sweden as a country is quite high on the list of affected by the corona virus — Belgium has closed restaurants, bars and schools — I suspect Sweden will do the same relatively soon (Denmark has already done so). My dad, who is in Brussels, shared a funny story just before the bar ban was in effect: while walking the dog, he saw three normally relatively quiet bars absolutely packed inside and outside. He describe the scenes as a “last supper” type of scenario.
Evan — South Texas
Bit lean at the ol’ grocery store:
Miran — Bosnia and Herzegovina/Slovenia
The situation in Europe is quite unstable now. Here, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where I live, everything is slowly shutting down. First schools and universities, and now kindergartens and a lot of businesses. People are generally not panicking that much. There have been some stories that I’ve heard that people bought a one-year supply in flour, oil, and sugar. But, generally, people are more bummed out than scared.
The second country that I have contact with is Slovenia. My dad went there on a business trip and he got in contact with an infected guy. So now he is self-quarantined and is just waiting for the critical period to be finished. The problem is that he can’t return home either, because the borders are blocked. The interesting thing he told me is that the doctors in Slovenia are prescribing a medication (to people who got infected) that is usually prescribed to people who have tested HIV positive.
The third country that I have contact with is Switzerland. My sister lives there and she got the virus. After just a couple of days, she got better and now the fever is gone. Switzerland is almost completely under a lockdown, at least the parts that are the closest to Italy. All stores are closed in the town where my sister lives and people had to buy a lot of food and supplies to get through the next couple of weeks.
John — Connecticut
The writing on the wall was clear by Friday: as more cases were confirmed in CT, we fully expected school to be canceled next week. The official announcement came that evening. My 7-year-old will be home for the next two weeks. The daycare for my 3-year-old has not made the call yet, but I don’t want to send him there even if they stay open. They should close. Honestly, I don’t plan to get much work done (real work, let alone BFW!) for at least two weeks. It’s gonna be rough. At least we can play outside.
People here began buying up all the hand sanitizer in sight last week. My wife started early and bought a lot of dry groceries that we’ve stored in case we really can’t go out at all. We’re pretty well prepared. The uncertainty of the situation is unsettling, though. We fortunately have no elderly or frail relatives near us, but we’re both worried about friends and family elsewhere in the country.
I teach at a local university. We were in the middle of our spring break when the administration told the students not to come back. We’re also moving classes online. This will be me teaching my class via video-meeting in a week:
Anyway, wherever in the world you all are, be responsible and stay safe for your own and everyone’s sake!