Millions of people worldwide are having to embrace life under lockdown – confined to their own four walls or neighbourhoods for weeks on end as countries battle to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
This new way of living poses huge challenges. Teaching, working and socialising have moved online as never before. The lockdown has also prompted many people to reassess their lives and what is most important to them, bringing unexpected realisations and touching moments with their families.
In Milan, 14-year-old Italian Lavinia Tomassini is trying to study at home. “I get up much later and I go to bed later than usual. I focus less when I am home, I like to go to school and study there more. I focus more when I am at school as I have less distraction.
“I hope all this will come to an end … I am really struggling to study from home as I have so many distractions here at home. And also I really want to be able to go out again without being worried about catching a disease.”
In the United States, as in other countries struck by the virus, Dr William Jason Sulaka has learned how to conduct consultations online as he can no longer meet his patients face to face. “I would rather see a patient in the office … I prefer real visits to virtual visits,” he says.
The closure of workplaces has given people time with their families they never had before. Dino Lin, a 40-year-old who works in an auto-part manufacturer, was lucky enough to move into a more spacious apartment in Shanghai just before the virus took hold, allowing his 5-year-old daughter Wowo Lin to have her own room.
“Now I finally got a lot of time to spend with my daughter and wife,” he says. “We help our daughter build her own daily plan, which includes English, maths study, cello practice, reading as well as her favourite, watching cartoons. After life returns to normal, I think the first thing for me is to have a big meal in a decent restaurant. My daughter’s wish is definitely to meet and play with her best friends right away.”
Musicians from the Beijing-based Chinese group The 2econd could not meet for weeks, but have now been able to come together and livestream a performance for their fans.
Thomas Law Kwok Fai, a 70-year-old Catholic priest in Hong Kong, has also turned to livestreaming, after the diocese temporarily suspended public masses at churches. “It was a painful decision. However, it was a decision of faith as we believe in God. God has given us the power to make sacrifices that make it a loving decision.”
In the Venezuelan capital Caracas, 51-year-old Ana Pereira lives alone with her dog and cat. She is sitting down in front of her computer to a virtual picnic with friends, as they can’t actually meet as they have done weekly since 2011. It is a poor replacement. “I need physical contact and I’m missing it a lot,” she says.
Asked what is the first thing she wants when life get back to normal, she says: “A hug.”