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Making the Coronavirus Statistics More Personal

Tourism

For me, the COVID-19 pandemic became much more personal last week. My nephew, a fit, 32-year-old sporty type who teaches English in Madrid, contracted the disease. Fortunately, he is well on the way to recovery, although his sense of smell was returning more slowly than that of taste. Amid the very tight lockdown in Spain, he is particularly grateful his flat has a reasonably sizeable balcony of which he can exercise and take in some fresh air.

Concerning though that news was, it was trumped when I found out my older brother, in the less oppressively locked down United Kingdom, has also been diagnosed with coronavirus, along with his wife. He is generally fit, but will be 60 this year and has diabetes, both of which place him in a higher risk category. So much so, in fact, that on the advice of his health clinic, he had already been ordered to stay at home.

He, too, seems thankfully well on the road to recovery. In many ways, we were somewhat surprised he had not caught it anyway, since his work was in information and passenger assistance at Gatwick Airport. I say was, because he has now been laid off, but with a reasonable package, and compared to his health, that is, while important, not the most pressing matter right now.

I mention all of this because it has really brought home to me the reality of what we face. The tragedy of 13,798 deaths in Spain (as at the time of writing) is truly awful. But those deaths remain a statistic until you see some of the victims for yourself, or happen to have a relative in the country with the disease.

Being British-born, I obviously have a closer connection with the United Kingdom. But the drama unfolding there (5,373 deaths at noon on Tuesday, April 7) was made much more real by my older brother’s diagnosis, even than the truly shocking news that its Prime Minister Boris Johnson had been moved to intensive care. (It goes without saying that, regardless of personal views or party politics, everyone should wish him, his pregnant fiancé and his government well.)

They used to say there was barely a family in Britain – let alone a village or town – left untouched by the bloody slaughter of World War I. The mild infection of the heir to the British throne, Prince Charles, and the much more serious one suffered by Johnson, make it clear COVID-19 is entirely non-discriminatory. Race, gender, age, color, creed, nationality; all are as one to it. No one is exempt.

It will be a distinctly odd Easter this year. No trip down to Szeged for my kids to meet with their Mama and Papa, go through the rituals of “sprinkling”, playing with the live Easter Bunny my father-in-law always manages to arrange to be on hand in the back garden prior to the traditional Easter present hunt. Instead, it will be Easter by Skype and Facetime (other service providers are available), and prayers that we all stay well.

However it is that you chose to celebrate Easter, whatever you call it, and whether you worship one god, many or none, I wish you a peaceful, loving and above all healthy long weekend.


Robin Marshall

Editor-in-chief

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