It feels like we’ve been watching the world for a few weeks – seeing the numbers rise, the distancing measures put in place, the lack of basic foods on the shelves… But within the last few days the first case of COVID-19 has now been confirmed in Mozambique. We’ve had a few measures put in place but nothing like many other countries.
In these blogs, I often write about what’s different from life in the UK. But for this one that’s actually quite hard because I haven’t experienced the kind of life that everyone’s going through in the UK right now. I see lots on social media and it feels that so many people are doing what they can to help others get through this – teachers offering to help with distance learning, the cards to write your number on and offer to help with shopping etc, encouraging messages… But then I have also seen the pictures of the empty supermarket shelves and parks packed with people not following the guidelines.
At the time of writing this, the main things for us are that schools have been closed and gatherings of over 50 people prohibited. Other than that, much of life is continuing as normal. Or, not quite normal. Thankfully the handwashing message does seem to have got through to many people – there is water and soap at the doors of many places when you go in and at the supermarket you get some sprayed into your hand.
One big difference from the UK is the shelves in the supermarket. Items are not disappearing here as they are in other countries, we can still buy our pasta! But most of the land borders with South Africa (from where many goods are imported) are closed, so a shortage may come at some point. Like so many things with this virus, we just don’t know.
It may be that in a few weeks we will be where you are. But then again maybe not – many of the self-isolation/social distancing measures I read about are just not possible for so many people here. Families all living together in a small space. People who cannot work from home. There is so little in life that you can do online here that people have to go out for pretty much everything. And no chance of home delivery.
Seeing the impact that it is having on the UK, I also wonder how this virus will affect Mozambique. If the NHS is under strain, how will the healthcare system here cope? If people are suffering financially there, how will so many people here who struggle to get by in normal circumstances manage? And, in a country where so much depends on physically seeing people and the most vulnerable in society may not have the easy access to technology that so many of us do, how can we reach out to people and help them through this when we can’t physically reach out to them?