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Coronavirus impacts social, economic, political aspects of international life

This is part one in a two-part series about the worldwide impact COVID-19 has had and the response of civilians to safety measures, government restrictions and lifestyle changes. Unless otherwise stated, all statistics and governmental information was taken from country government websites and/or US embassy websites and includes, but is not limited to, the information stated.

Information about COVID-19 in this article was current as of May 18, unless otherwise stated. According to Worldometer, there are 4,904,566 total global coronavirus cases, out of those, 320,326 are dead and 1,916,024 have recovered, May 18. According to the CDC, there are 1,551,095 cases of coronavirus in the US with 93,061 deaths, May 21. This article is being shared with the world through Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, May 21.

Courtesy of Jovana Rackovic

The line for a grocery store wrapped around the building at the beginning of the stay-at-home order in Montenegro.

The current coronavirus situation of 2020 differs greatly from the Wuhan-originated sickness that caused a plethora of missing toilet paper, xenophobia and threats of cancelled sports seasons. Now a pandemic earning a spot in the history books, COVID-19 impacts every aspect of civilian life, from one-on-one communication to the freedom to leave one’s house.

According to The New York Times, as of May 15, new cases of coronavirus were decreasing in 19 US states, increasing in three and remaining the same in the other 28.

As countries around the world struggle to create safety measures, restrictions and laws for the safety of civilians, The Feather Online staff reached out to individuals around the world, seeking to know more about their response to the government rules and lifestyle alterations. Through video calls, pictures, podcasts and email interviews, The Feather strives to provide an international view of the COVID-19 crisis and shine a light on its social influence across the globe.

Estonia

Confirmed Cases: 1784
Total Deaths: 64
Total Recoveries: 290
Government Restrictions: General governmental emergency situation status ends May 19 but health care emergency status remains, readjustment to regular life will come gradually.

Krista Kull – Head of the Department of Public Relations and Tourism for the government of Viljandi, Estonia
Viljandi, Estonia
May 17, 2020

“The fact that some things are out of your control is inevitable at the moment, however, constantly thinking about the virus and the situation it has created could cause excessive anxiety. I used self-help methods to calm myself and cope with the anxiety. But, I miss meeting people, to see personally, to talk, to touch, to hug. I am a very social person, that was hardest for me.

“Many people are worried about themselves or their close ones catching COVID-19, which can cause high anxiety. I think it was very important to see where to get sensible information and how to prepare for various situations. I followed the Estonian National Television news and press conferences of our prime minister and health board on TV every day.”

Courtesy of Armen Sargsyan

Due to the cancellation of the annual Walk to the Armenian Genocide Memorial, April 24, a virtual experience was provided for Armenians to text in their ancestor’s name and it was projected onto the memorial.

Armenia

Confirmed cases: 4,823
Total deaths: 61
Total recoveries: 2,019
Government restrictions: As of May 18, ban on public transportation is lifted; pre-schools, shopping malls, gyms, and restaurants are open; anyone traveling into Armenia who is not a citizen, relative of a citizen, or lawful resident of Armenia is prohibited. As of May 25, the Armenian government will require all individuals in public spaces to wear face masks.

Armen Sargsyan – Executive director of Public TV of Armenia
Yerevan, Armenia
May 15, 2020

“The general thing is, a lot of people are thinking of what they will be doing when this whole drama will be over. They are making plans of big gatherings, doing famous Armenian barbecue, making feasts, etc., so now they are living in the future. Armenians usually live with their past. I mean, how big of a country it was, what kind of famous people we have born in this nation, so they are used to living with the past. Now we are talking about us in the future. This is unique for us; we always live on the same day, but now we are looking forward.

“Hundreds of thousands of people go to the Armenian Genocide Memorial every year. We all walk to the memorial. This time, April 24, this event was canceled. A lot of people were angry because this is how we show our memory toward our ancestors who were killed. We made up a plan for how people could virtually attend this genocide memorial. At night we put a wall of names and surnames, a special wall, and people would send us text messages by their name, and their names would appear on this wall, live. We received 800,000 text messages from 8 p.m., into the morning.”

The following tweet contains an article from the Wall Street Journal, featuring Mark Standriff, the Director of Communications and Public Affairs at the City Manager’s Office of Fresno, that explains the struggles leaders have with those refusing to take COVID-19 precautions.

Switzerland

Confirmed Cases: 30,597
Total Deaths: 1,603
Total Recoveries: N/A
Government Restrictions: Primary and lower secondary schools open, public places such as museums and restaurants open with precautions.

Bianca Melnic –  third-year medical student
Geneva, Switzerland
May 10, 2020

“Our city being right by the French border, many of the workers, including health workers, live in France, where life is cheaper but they work in Geneva, where salaries are higher, so our region was directly affected by the closed borders. Starting May 11, the lock-down is officially over in Switzerland but not in France, which raises some geopolitical questions – the French government has stated that Switzerland is endangering the French territories nearby by not being strict enough with the lock-down.

“Many people feel they don’t have access to reliable information and don’t know. But, everyone goes out on their balcony to applaud the health workers every night at 9 p.m., which strengthens our sense of unity and gives us the feeling that we’re all in this together.”

Xiaoyu Xu

A shrine on the corner of a Tokyo park stands empty during the COVID-19 pandemic as civilians are strongly encouraged to stay home and social distance.

Japan

Confirmed cases: 16,367
Total deaths: 768
Total recoveries: 11,564

Government restrictions (according to Xiaoyu Xu, Japanese resident; Japan.travel): As of April 26, stay-at-home order, social distancing and working from home is highly encouraged but not enforced by the Japanese government; public gathering places such as amusement parks, libraries and arcades are closed, restaurants open for limited hours. All Japanese residents traveling into the country from a foreign nation is required to self-isolate and refrain from using public transportation for 14 days.

Xiaoyu Xu – moved to Japan in September 2018, working from home as a headhunter, living with husband
Tokyo, Japan
May 7, 2020

“People finally understand how serious COVID-19 is, and are trying their best to stay home and cooperate with government. In the beginning they didn’t take this serious though, especially foreigners in Japan who don’t have the culture of wearing masks. You can still go grocery shopping everyday, but most people choose to go every three days. Just need to wear a mask and wash hands after back home. Both my husband and I are working from home. Normally we barely have time to communicate with each other on weekdays because he always comes back home around midnight, and goes to work around 10~11am. So when he arrives home, it’s my bed time already. Now we are spending time together 24/7; this is new to both of us, but we have been doing great so far.”

New Zealand

Confirmed cases: 1,154
Total deaths: 21
Total recoveries: 1,462
Government restrictions: New Zealand operates under four alert levels. As of May 14, the country resides under Alert Level 2 which allows the gatherings of no more than ten people, the opening of all businesses as long as social distancing is employed, and the opening of education centers. New Zealand’s borders remain under tight control, wide-scale testing will continue and sick individuals will be required to self-isolate.

April Hopkins – flight attendant for Air New Zealand
Auckland, NZ
April 26, 2020

Courtesy of April Hopkins

New Zealand operates under four alert levels. As of May 14, the country resides under Alert Level 2 which allows the gatherings of no more than ten people and the opening of all businesses as long as social distancing is applied.

“For the most part, the public have taken this situation very seriously. It was made clear in the beginning that if we didn’t do our part to stop the spread of the virus that it would have dire consequences in NZ. We rely so heavily on overseas tourism for our economy, but we are just a tiny island nation of 4.9 million people, so our Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern made the decision to close our borders and place everyone in lockdown, a decision that the majority of the country is very grateful for.

As the number of cases has dropped significantly the last 33 days, the government has announced that as of 11:59 pm tonight, New Zealand will be dropping down to an alert level 3 for 2 weeks. Fast food and other restaurants, as well as some other non-essential businesses, though there will still be majority closed, will open up again tomorrow as long as they can guarantee contactless services/delivery. After those two weeks, depending on the number of new cases and the public response to the change to level 3 lockdown, we may drop down to a level 2 with more freedom, or we could jump back to level 4 again. Only time will tell.”

Montenegro

Confirmed cases: 324
Total deaths: 9
Total recoveries: 311
Government restrictions: As of May 15, masks required in public places (shops, banks, etc.); cafes, cafeterias, and restaurants, returned to service on May 15; ban on public gatherings, weddings and funerals is still in effect; all school centers remain closed.

Courtesy of Jovana Rackovic

The Montenegrin government organized flights for citizens to come back to Montenegro if they wished when the pandemic started. Flight crew members were required to wear protective uniforms in order to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Jovana Rackovic – traveled home from university in London, taking online classes, living with mom and two sisters
Kotor, Montenegro
May 6, 2020

“I didn’t actually plan to come back to my home country until September, only for a couple of days, maybe for a short break, but not this long definitely. But I came back almost two months ago now and I have been studying from home and following my lectures. I will be taking my exams online which is pretty great since the university was very much adaptable so we transferred to online with studying very fast.

“Me and my boyfriend were supposed to spend our four-year anniversary in Rome which was about a month ago, but then of course that flight and the whole trip was canceled. During that time I was actually in self-isolation in our home and I wasn’t allowed to go anywhere. So my boyfriend came in the hallway of our building, brought a chair and sat in front of our door. I opened the door and sat the hallway of our apartment and we were drinking coffee and talking with an open front door for our anniversary. It was definitely an anniversary we’ll remember forever!”

Quebec, Canada

Confirmed cases: 48,598
Total deaths: 4,139
Total recoveries: 14,999
Government restrictions (according to Camille Van Drouin, Montreal resident): As of April 26, anyone less than two meters away from someone who doesn’t live with them will be fined $1000; all non-essential shops closed; grocery stores open for less hours, retirement homes don’t allow visitors, anyone entering the country from another nation must self-isolate for 14 days (neglecting to do so results in a fine).

Camille Van Drouin – undergoing online university classes, living alone
Montreal, Quebec

“The most noticeable change I have seen is the way people act towards each other. When I walk in the street, I feel like I am dangerous and everyone is trying to avoid each other. I also noticed that people are really cold now towards each others, people don’t talk with each other. Most people follow the restrictions; at the beginning there was a hoarding of toilet paper, but now it’s back to normal. A lot of people also make bread so there is no flour in most grocery.

“I only had one class for university. It went online but it didn’t make a huge difference in my life. My job contract finished right before the pandemic started so I have not been able to find a new one in the middle of everything, but I have the government aid so I don’t have any struggle paying my bills.”

Madagascar

Confirmed cases: 322
Total deaths: 1
Total recoveries: 119
Government restrictions: As of April 10, everyone must wear a face mask while in the capital city, anyone caught outside without a mask will be detained by the police, strict stay-at-home orders remain.

Gabriel Sandler – Emergency evacuated by US forces from Peace Corps in Fort Dauphin, Madagascar, currently living with brother and sister-in-law in upstate New York
Fort Dauphin, Madagascar
May 5, 2020

“In Madagascar, there was a lot of curiosity around COVID-19, and people were very interested in how it developed around the world. Madagascar had its first documented case later than most countries, and shut down its borders the week of my evacuation.

Courtesy of Jose Makavelo

The founder of an English learning center in Madagascar, Jose Makavelo believes government unrest is partly responsible for Madagascar’s people’s struggle.

“I was a Peace Corps Volunteer working in southern Madagascar. I had been there 18 months and intended to stay until July 2021. We got our evacuation notice on March 16, and I was in upstate New York with my brother and sister-in-law a week later. This represented a huge disruption in my personal and professional life. I’m stressed about getting a job, and wish I could see my friends and more family. I’m extremely grateful, however, for my health and everyone who has supported me.”

Jose Makavelo – English teacher and founder of an English learning center
Madagascar
April 28, 2020

“Actually, the country is very rich – 90% of Madagascar’s biodiversity can’t be found anywhere else in the world. But there has been, I think, some sort of mismanagement—kleptocracy would be a word that could define it. What has been going on here is a short supply of food because people still practice traditional-world cultivation and most people practice subsistence so it has been hard for people to move forward here. We also have other diseases which are more dangerous than coronavirus in comparison right now.”

Chile

Confirmed Cases: 46,059
Total Deaths: 478
Total Recoveries: 20,165
Government Restrictions: Quarantining in certain areas, closed borders, curfew.

Manon Roucher – intern at an airport construction project
Santiago, Chile
May 4, 2020

“Here in Chile, most people have reacted according to government protocol. I think there is however a difference between different parts of the population. The poorest areas are the ones that least respect the measures put in place for the coronavirus, probably because it is harder for them to sustain themselves in this situation. I think an issue I can think of is the uncertainty of the numbers given by the government. A lot of people think that the government is lying quite a lot about the number of deaths and active cases. ”

The following tweet from Bloomberg features additional information about COVID-19 symptoms.

Liberia

Confirmed Cases: 226
Total Deaths: 21
Total Recoveries: 120
Government Restrictions: Schools and colleges closed, curfews, social distancing, face masks.

Tusie Nyanneh – volunteer administrator and teacher at a primary school
Monrovia, Liberia
May 3, 2020

The view of Fort Dauphin, Madagascar, out of the window of Gabriel Sandler’s charter plane as he evacuated the country due to COVID-19.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and lock down have changed lots of things with negative impact on our daily lives. Just today, a neighbor mother came walking out and fell on the ground shouting for help and nobody could reach out to her because of fear and the repercussions that it could be the virus. We tried calling an ambulance but she died in the process; it was a hurtful and unfortunate incident.

“Liberia has a broken economy, there is no electricity in most part of the city as well as safe drinking water. The unemployment rate is so high people are managing their lives with the small businesses they run as the only means of survival. From the look of things, hunger will kill more people rather then COVID-19 if nothing is done by our government. They have promised to do a food distribution to help alleviate some of the stress people are faced with, and we are hoping to see that happens.”

South Africa

Total Cases: 16,433
Total Deaths: 286
Total Recoveries: 7,298
Government Restrictions: Quarantine to personal residences except in certain occasions such as to buy necessities, curfews.

Robert Engle – life orientation and geography teacher for the past 30 years
Western Cape, South Africa
April 29, 2020

“Our country, although having a democratic system, is realizing now that our poor communities are the most effected when it comes to food and housing. People here live in squatter camps as we call it. But now, people from all walks of life are supporting each other now – our millionaires are contributing to funds that were established to help the poor. The hard part for me is that when this is all over, we tend to forget about the poor. Capitalism will continue and the gap between the rich and poor will increase. I do hope our government will implement new policies and increase trade so that we can increase our employment rate and people will get better housing.”

Australia

Confirmed Cases: 7,060
Total Deaths: 99
Total Recoveries: 6,389
Government Restrictions: Restrictions vary based on state – general social distancing and many schools still open.

Vicki Trunks – claims adjuster for an insurance company
Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia
April 27, 2020

“I think the biggest issues facing all of us is mental health from loneliness. It is so very hard for those that usually go to senior citizen clubs or support groups. There is also financial loss for so many. My job is safe, but my husbands isn’t, and like America we have had huge job losses. Bankruptcy will play a huge part in the future for many Australians. So many businesses are already closed and will never reopen.

“Our laws were enforced in mid-March, way before America, as restrictions were only just coming in America when we were leaving. The laws are enforced and fines of $1300 if you break them. One young man got put in prison as he wanted to visit his girlfriend every night even though he was in quarantine due to being overseas.”

Courtesy of Cynthia Ward

Americans who are both working at LCC International University in Lithuania, John and Cynthia Ward feel that the quarantining measures taken at their location would have been received differently in the US.

Lithuania

Confirmed Cases: 1541
Total Deaths: 56
Total Recoveries: 997
Government Restrictions: General social distancing, schools closed but extracurricular activities recently permitted.

Cynthia Ward – tutor originally from America for LCC International University
Klaipėda, Lithuania
April 26, 2020

“From my personal observations, and I think it stems from Lithuania previously being under Soviet rule, but they abide by the rules. We’ve been in lockdown now for six weeks. And when they started the lockdown, it was just like ‘wow, no one’s here.’ And I kind of compare that to America because we have so many freedoms. I don’t know that we Americans would have just said ‘okay, we’ll stay in our houses and not go out.'”

Peru

Confirmed Cases: ~130,000
Total Deaths: 2,789
Total Recoveries: 52,906
Government Restrictions: As of May 18, all US residents in Peru are highly encouraged to find transportation back to the US as soon as they are able; nightly quarantine measures are enforced between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m.; the use of a face mask is required in all public places; children under 14 years of age are allowed to leave their house for a 30-minute walk with an adult who lives with them.

Renato Peixoto – owns a company that focuses on agricultural and environmental issues
Arequipa, Peru
April 26, 2020

Courtesy of Esthephani Torreblanca

A man in Peru sells newspapers advertising the COVID-19 crisis and how it affects the people.

“I think that like everyone, we did not expect this virus to become a pandemic. But, we are surviving this situation here, looking for a positive side. One does not know how to deal with these situations, but at least we tried. The area where I live there are no positive cases of COVID-19; that is good, but the situation is still worrying because in an outing to buy food I can get infected, you live a little with that fear.

“There are two types of people, those who respect the rules and those who do not. Those who respect comply with security protocols such as distancing themselves and not leaving home, those who do not have respect are without personal protective equipment, continue to meet and they don’t respect authority.”

Esthephanie Torreblanca – works in education system, living at home with parents and brother
Peru
May 1, 2020

“I can see a lot more of others helping people and the kindness is one of the most characteristic of things of what I can see in my friends and neighbors. I just work in a school and all the schools here have been canceled until next year. They have all moved to online so it affects me because I don’t have a job right now, but I actually kind of get one to work online. But I think that for me it was weird not to go out and not see my friends.

“I have anxiety, and I know that is normal especially in these moments and circumstances because we are on lockdown, but for me it was hard to do the things that I used to do and for this to feel like normal so I was feeling kind of stuck. Another thing is that I always love to help other people so with other friends we help older men who were in the wars and we bring the newspaper to their houses. We collect some money and give it to them. I’ve been trying to do something more.”

For more coronavirus-related coverage, read Coronavirus spreads across the globe, public health threatened, Earth Day promotes climate change awareness, raises support through livestreamsPositive environmental changes due to COVID-19Join the Discussion: Feather staff shares COVID-19 shelter-in-place experiences and BREAKING: FCS transitions to alternative learning model due to COVID-19. For a full list of The Feather’s COVID-19 coverage, type ‘COVID-19’, ‘coronavirus’ or ‘shelter-in-place’ into the search bar.

For more articles, read Senior Reflection: Serena Zhao and Passions & Hobbies: Behind the scenes of Fresno Christian athletes.

Addison Schultz can be reached via email and via Twitter @SchultzAddison.

Vijay Stephen can be reached via email and Twitter.

The following slideshow features additional images of coronavirus-related situations around the world.

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