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Covid – we are so lucky

Last updated on 27th October 2020

We had a poster at the bus stop, saying that, after returning from the supermarket, we should disinfect our car boot, car keys, money and fruits, vegetables and everything else. We had a warning that the virus could be brought into the apartment on the soles of the shoes, therefore we were supposed to take them off in the staircase after coming home and leave them there. The condominium cleaning staff loved that one. We had restaurants closed and reopened with half the number of tables. We had take-away handed to us from behind acrylic dividers; the restaurant, looked like a bank, ready to defend against robbers. We are so lucky that all of this is gone now.

Our restaurants – the ones who are not bankrupt – have reopened, increased the number of tables and switched the air condition to maximum. We can sit in the park, not too near each other, and talk like human beings. We are social human beings, and the virus thrives on this fact. But on Madeira Island, we have an invisible obstacle which it cannot overcome, the scrutiny at the airport (and now also in the port) for people who unwittingly, bring the virus with them. Our excellent IASaude Team at the airport tests everybody and follows up all newcomers for 14 days with SMS. Whoever is sick, may be able to infect his family or his partner, but not the receptionist, not the waiter nor the bus driver. Yes, more and more tourists and residents bring in the disease; it’s inevitable if people do not get tested in advance at home. (I wouldn’t want to travel when I’m sick so I would have a test before I travel anywhere. But ok.) So, we have imported cases (going right into quarantine) and a few 1:1 local transmissions. The virus is under control here. Our population is still scared stiff – why? Because it suits the Government to keep them so.

Most of our people wear masks in public areas, following a regulation by the local government, although the President, Miguel Albuquerque  admitted that there is no legal base for this to be compulsory, “but people follow the rule and that is what matters.”

So, residents wear masks, wash their hands more than ever, and we do keep (un)social distance by staying out of each other’s way. It is depressing but this is a world-wide crisis, and if we are going to get away relatively unscathed, then we should count ourselves lucky on this island – let’s cherish that!

Ursula Hahn

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