The true horror of Covid-19 and the threat to the existence of human kind dawned on us in early March. The deadly viral infection spread rapidly from Wuhan in China to all parts of the world prompting the WHO to declare a global pandemic. By the end of the month, three quarters of a million were infected and the global death toll passed 37,000.
We were in our holiday home in Sri Lanka. it was hot and sunny and the Virus ‘does not like the heat’ they said. The epicentre of the infection had moved from China to Europe and England was in a bad way. ‘The NHS is unable to cope’ the medics said. We will develop ‘Herd Immunity’ the Prime Minister boasted. The death rate from Covid-19 in the UK rose to 2.6% compared to Germany’s 0.16%.
We decided to stay on in Sri Lanka and all activities of the Harrogate Medical Wine Society were cancelled.
If reports are to be believed, there was only one infected person in Sri Lanka at the beginning of March. Some say that Chinese workers were allowed into the country without quarantine and a plane load of ex-pat Sri Lankans arrived from Italy and evaded scrutiny and quarantine at the airport. However, the number of infected has shot up to 143 with two fatalities. It is significant that testing for Corona virus infection is done only if one presents at a hospital with symptoms of disease. The government closed schools and businesses and slapped on an island-wide curfew. Some still didn’t take the threat seriously and partied. Thousands who ignored the curfew were arrested.
Life in Colombo has not been easy. We cancelled all social engagements and self-isolated ourselves at home. Younger friends and neighbours helped with shopping before the curfew became permanent. Supermarket chains promised home delivery of essential goods but it was largely hit and miss. Many enterprising people started small businesses delivering bags of vegetables, fish and bread to families on lock-down. The prices were inflated and quality not high, but nobody really cared. Nominated pharmacies started a home delivery service of essential medical supplies. While the UK maintained that liqueur outlets are an essential service, alcohol sales were prohibited in Sri Lanka. Cases of wine I had ordered from a local supplier remained undelivered and “Gahapan Machan” – an Arrack cocktail with lime juice, ginger beer and ice became the staple evening indulgence. Our excellent cook/cleaner was given a long break. Walks were no longer possible and time was spent watching garden birds from the front verenda, noticing birds such as the Green Imperial Pigeon and Crimson Headed Barbet which were not seen in the vicinity before. Time is spent holding video chats with friends and family in different parts of the world using FaceTime and Zoom and the VPN connection makes it possible to watch BBC iPlayer.
More people have started to wear face masks and gloves and most of us wash and quarantine delivered provisions for 72 hours.
Our nine-house community started communicating vital information using WhatsApp and helped each other to locate vital supplies and services. One member observed:
“What this virus has taught us is that only relationships are precious – nothing else”
There are suggestions that anti-malarials and anti-viral products used against he common cold could be used to treat the Corona viral infection and a vaccine will soon start clinical trials.
Let’s keep hopes alive and meet again next month.
Views From The UK & USA
“We are restricted to wearing a mask when ever we go for a walk or leave the property. We are lucky that we can purchase wine locally in the grocery store. I can still enjoy my port at 3 in the afternoon and have a bottle of wine for dinner. We would like to go to our second home in Steamboat Springs, CO, but we are being told to stay home at least through May. Stay well, and God bless you and Ramani.” – Ralph Harris, USA
“Here in Yorkshire, the birds are singing, daffodils and tulips bloom in the garden and along the hedgerows the Bluebells bloom. Social distancing ad other restrictions apply. No Church services here either. As to what we will be drinking to celebrate the end of this dreadful period, we’ll probably be drinking pretty much the same. 🥂🍷🍸. Communicating with friends we all seem to be drinking our better wines.
The difference will be we will be able.to meet up and greet each other rather than by all the various apps. Stay safe and well.” – Peter (Murphy), Ackworth
“Life is definitely different Bernard. Here we are lucky with unseasonably warm and sunny weather meaning we can spend many hours out in the garden. We take long walks out into the countryside 2 or 3 times a week thus keeping as far as possible away from others, although not all landowners are sharing the sprit of “we are all in this together” by illegally closing public footpaths. I’ve used some of the time fruitfully by restacking the wine boxes in the garage and under the stairs and at present rate of consumption i am happy to relay that we can survive at least a year without going thirsty. We’ve also upped the quality of our daily wines – no sense leaving them to unappreciating others if we were to die! humour , Black or otherwise, helps keep spirits high. We consider our selves very fortunate, well stocked fridges-and freezers, plenty of wine, a garden that requires a lot of attention, access to open spaces, and boxed sets of dvds if the rain sets in. Hopefully the restrictions will start to be raised at the end of the month, but it will be gradual and not for everyone, for those older or with compromised health they will likely still be under restrictions for months to come. So we enjoy ever minute, we talk to friends and relatives in long Internet phone calls, take pleasure in fresh air and natural beauty and savour some lovely wines. Our best wishes to you both and we look forward to when we can all meet up again. Take care and stay well. Best wishes.” – Tony & Renna. Knaresborough