Life inside in quarantine.
I’ve had a lot of friends and family asking about how quarantine and COVID-19 have been affecting me, my exchange and in Chile, and so I thought I would write a more in-depth response.
Currently, the situation here isn’t looking too good, if I’m perfectly honest. As of today, 17th of May, 2020, there were 2353 new cases of COVID-19 in the entirety of Chile, which compared to Australia’s 9 reported new cases, is a lot, to say the least. Overall, there have been 43 781 positive cases of COVID-19 in Chile, and a total of 450 deaths. Again, to compare that to Australia’s 7045 confirmed cases and 98 deaths, its quite a difference. I think right now (or at least I’m hoping) that we’re currently in the peak of it all, but I’m not really sure. It’s very hard to predict when the peak will be or when it will all pass, so we’re all just taking it day by day and week by week.
About a week ago, my commune (kind of like a suburb?) went into complete lockdown quarantine, and as of last Friday, the entirety of Santiago is under quarantine as well. Other regions of Chile are under quarantine as well, and a nation-wide quarantine is expected to be enforced soon enough.
Quarantine here means that you can only leave your house if you have permission from Los Carabineros (the police), and you can get that permission online. There is a limit from how many times you can get that permission for in a week (its twice a week for things like grocery shopping, and I’m not sure how it works if you need to go to work), and when you are outside, you must carry that permission slip with you, along with your ID, and be wearing a mask. A lot of the time as well, there is a time limit on how long you can be outside for, for example, 30 minutes to walk the dog or something along the lines of that. If you’re found to be outside without permission or expired permission, you face a penalty, which is most likely a hefty fine, but you could also be arrested (as far as I understand).
There is also a nationwide Toca de Queda (mandated curfew) from 22:00 – 05:00 every day, where you are not allowed to be outside at all unless it’s an emergency, such as going to the hospital. The same fine/penalty is in place for breaking this curfew, and there is a heavy police presence on the streets, not just during the curfew, to enforce this.
There are very few flights going in or out of Chile right now, and there is a 14-day mandatory quarantine from anyone entering the country, much like there is in Aus right now as well.
This all sounds very scary, and I’m not going to lie, it is a bit. This entire pandemic is scary for everyone across the globe, and it’s certainly not something I was particularly prepared for when I entered exchange. However, my day to day life doesn’t really face a lot of the scary stuff that I’ve mentioned.
Right now, it’s coming up to about two and a half months that my family and I have been in self-imposed isolation, and I have almost not left the front door. I have been out with my host parents to buy bread maybe once or twice, however, this wasn’t very much more than walking across the street to the bakery to buy it. My host parents go out once a week or so to buy the groceries, and my host siblings and I don’t go with them.
Because I haven’t really left the house, I can’t give you a very good picture of what the outside looks like. From what I’ve been told by my host parents, everyone outside has masks on, and there are lines at the local supermarket to get in, with officials controlling how many people are in the store, and everyone has to sanitise their hands and get their temperatures measured before they enter.
Generally, I spend my weekdays in online classes with Zoom calls and attempting to do the school work. Social media has been amazing to keep in contact with friends, not just from Australia, but also my chilenxs here as well, and so I’ve been messaging and video calling a lot of people as well. To keep busy, I’ve been baking a lot, like a lot of people, and my host family are very pleased to have a few extra sweet treats. I’m doing quite alright, if not a bit bored and missing going out with my friends here, but that’s normal in the current situation we are in.
During la cuarentena (quarantine but in Español so it’s cooler), I’ve been a part of Zoom meetings with both my sponsor club, The Rotary Club of Turramurra, and my host club and district, Rotary Club Peñalolén Cordillera and Distrito 4340. I would like to take this opportunity again to thank both districts and clubs for their support during this time, and it was great to be a part of the meetings. Gracias a todos y un abrazo!
I think I’ve answered most of what people have been asking about, but if there are any other questions, feel free to comment them on this post and I might make another blog post answering them. I wish for you all to be happy and healthy, and to have a good day! Chao!