Corona chronicles from Denmark: Day 1 of quarantine

It is around 10:00 on March 11th, and we have just landed in the Copenhagen airport from Malaysia oblivious to what is yet to come and how lucky we are to have returned home exactly on the eve of the nationwide lockdown.

Following the news half-way across the world, you could sense that the corona hype had definitely intensified over the last week on the European continent. Back in Malaysia things were rather quiet, life seemed to run its natural course. There was one omnipresent addition of course – the disinfection gels that were seen everywhere you entered – from restaurants to shopping malls to metro stations. From time to time they would also check your temperature – at important gathering points, such as airports and office buildings.

Landing in Copenhagen via Amsterdam, no one cared to check temperature of arriving passengers. The only thing rude Dutch border control was interested in was to harass newly arrived, sleepy passengers into producing their passports for check just the moment you stepped out of the plane. One wonders about priorities, right??? As if a Schengen visa, an EU residency card or even better, a coveted passport from an EU land would somehow provide you with a magic antibody against a nasty virus that seems to be bringing the world to its knees. After more than 2 hours of delay stuck on a grounded plane in Amsterdam, finally we reach Copenhagen. Same story here – passport check performed by much more pleasant Danish border control right out of the plane. No need for temperature check. It is indeed bewildering…

Finally home and onto a packed agenda for the day you don’t have time to follow the news much. Things seem to be OK. The number of infected people in Denmark has doubled from the previous day and reached over 500. I decide to work from home for the rest of the week not feeling particularly calm taking the public transport to work. Little did I know that a few hours later the big lockdown of the country would commence…

IMG_8767We go for an evening stroll by the lakes. The sunrise is beautiful, the air is mild and you can feel the touch of spring everywhere. My favourite daffodils are blooming, crocus are out, trees are starting to turn green, birds are chirping.

IMG_8770In the evening, the Danish government announces that all educational institutions are to be closed, sending home all public employees that are not performing critical functions and advising private companies to do the same. One thing that was specifically emphasised was that the people of Denmark should not worry about food, there is plenty of that. What do some hear instead? I need to run to the supermarket right away and hoard all the food I can. To hell with precautions and not gathering too many people in one place. The two essential hoarding items are:

  1. Toilet paper!
  2. Yeast

It is hard to comprehend this panic reaction and especially the toilet paper. Lack of rational thinking in times of fear is a fascinating topic of study I am sure. Before long the Internet is filled with amusing photo and video footage of people standing in long queues in supermarkets proud of their purchases. There emerges even some fighting over toilet paper, surely inspired by the Aussies.

Overnight there lands a mail in my mailbox. We are to work from home until March 30th. And this is how the home quarantine starts.

Photos © Andreas Eriksen

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