COVID-19 Update #4

Hola todos!

Yet again, it has been about a month since my last COVID post so I thought I would update a bit because quite a bit has changed.

As of writing this, yesterday 05/08/2020 (the numbers haven’t been updated for today yet), there are 1781 new cases, which is about 1k less than what I reported the daily cases were in my last blog post. We’ve had between 2200-1700 cases every day for the past few weeks, and slowly, bit by bit, the numbers have been going down.

Overall, as of 05/08/2020, we have 338 291 cases all up, and 9 792 deaths. For a while, we were the 6th worst country in the world, but we have moved down to the 8th worst country in the world for COVID-19, which still is not great, but an improvement and we’re trying to look at the positives.

There has been some good news! Some communes (basically suburbs) in Santiago have had their lockdown conditions lifted, and have moved into a transitional stage where they have fewer restrictions. My new commune/community/suburb (the word and concept really doesn’t translate perfectly into English, I’m so sorry) has not had it’s restrictions lifted yet, and there’s currently no scheduled date for the restrictions to be lifted either.

Some more surprisingly good news is that at this stage there is a rough plan to head back to school in person either next month or October, with masks and as much social distancing as possible. I have to say, this is the first time in my entire life that I have been actually excited to go back to school. I only had about a week and a half in actual school before the lockdown, and I didn’t really get the chance to make some good friends, so its been a bit lonely in quarantine and I hope that with going back I can actually make some friends. Oh, and learn of course. Nothing is officially confirmed yet, and it is very possible as well that I might not return to in-person schooling for the rest of my exchange either. As well, the school year has been extended, at the very least, right up until Christmas/New Year, and even possibly through until January or February next year, at worse. While this doesn’t affect me so much as I’ll be returning to Australia early January at this point, it has definitely been a topic of frustration for my classmates here, as they might be losing a month or more of their summer holidays.

However, restrictions lifting and going back to school carries great risks of inciting a second wave of infections, which will not only be dangerous and generally bad but will also mean that the lockdown will most probably commence again – just like what’s been happening in Melbourne. Hopefully, the widespread use of masks and practising social distancing will help curb this a little bit, but we’ll just have to see what happens. I’ve been under isolation/lockdown conditions for 144 days now, which is about 5 months, and so having the restrictions lifted is definitely something I do want, but realistically I know that it’s safer to be under lockdown, and I don’t want to get infected myself, nor have the possibility of infecting someone else, and so I understand and I’m not so upset if they aren’t lifted.

For now, the Toca de Queda (curfew) is still in place in Puente Alto (my suburb/area) from 10pm-5am, and it’s still required to receive permission from Los Carabineros (Chilean police) to leave and be outside. Nothing has changed from the restrictions I’ve mentioned in my previous posts pretty much.

That’s most of the nitty-gritty information and numbers and blegh stuff.

One thing that’s been catching my attention recently is the funerals for those who have died from COVID-19 and it’s complications. This is a very morbid subject, I’m aware, but I want to make more of a comment or observation on how the expression of grief has adapted to the current situation. My second host family who I’m living with now, live very close to a graveyard and funeral home, and so I’ve been privy to observing some of the burial traditions and funeral proceedings that have happened over the past month. One of the most notable proceedings has been the honking of car horns, which I’ll explain a bit of the context for, or my understanding of it.

There are restrictions on how many people can attend funerals, who can actually go attend a funeral and how they can take place for obvious health and safety reasons, and so people have adapted the way that they show their grievance and attend a funeral. The way that’s most common is by doing a drive-by the graveyard or funeral home and honking your horn for half a minute or so. This approach to funerals is actually very pandemic and social distancing approved, because the families in the cars don’t interact with anyone else, and they are still able to pay their respects. I hear about 5-10 different bursts of honking a day and its a very humbling and strange experience to have.

Other than that, I haven’t really been doing too much other than watching shows in Spanish on Netflix and going to my online classes, and there isn’t a whole lot to report on with what’s going on. So, I’m gonna end this very long blog post here.

I hope that you all are staying safe, are practising social distancing and still wearing masks whenever you go out because, even though most of Australia and Sydney might not be under lockdown, that doesn’t mean you aren’t still in a pandemic. Coming from a person in a place where it’s been a lot worse than in Australia, you are so lucky to have the freedom you have right now, and please don’t take that for granted like you have been. Wear a mask, wash your hands, social distance. Nos vemos xx

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