Pain, distance and dilemma: Living in a quarantined city

By Rafael Cañas

Madrid, Mar 17 (efe-epa).- The WhatsApp message is short and hard-hitting: “I’m waiting in the emergency room for them to bring mum. She has had a haemorrhage.”

Thoughts start springing to mind.

The first thing you do in these cases is run to your mother to care for her but this time it is impossible.

I am quarantined because of coronavirus.

A coworker tested positive and everyone who works in close contact with him has been homebound for days.

The entire country was later quarantined, although travel is permitted to visit relatives in hospitals, for some jobs and to go to doctor appointments.

But going to a hospital in these circumstances is a great risk for hospitalised patients, especially given my family is in La Rioja, the small Spanish region with most coronavirus cases in proportion to the population.

The danger is even greater for my mother. At 86 and with severe existing conditions she is a “perfect patient” for a hypothetical Covid-19 infection that could cost her her life.

And more so if we bear in mind that my wife works in a chemist and is constantly in contact with relatives of patients with coronavirus and people with mild symptoms who are not being tested because there are not enough resources in Madrid.

Despite the precautionary and safety measures put in place at the pharmacy, every day, when she gets home from work, she goes straight to the shower and puts her clothes in the washing machine.

We do not know what we have been exposed to, but we must act like we have been exposed to everything to prevent the virus from spreading and putting others at risk.

Knowing and understanding the current situation means the dilemma quickly fades, but it leaves a feeling of deep bitterness:

“You can’t go, you shouldn’t. It would be irresponsible to increase the risk even more,” I tell myself.

But it is inevitable to think that the worst could happen and that you may never say goodbye to your mother.

A Twitter user described a case close to him and said it should be a lesson to all citizens:

“A relative of my partner’s has died of coronavirus. I am not telling you this for your pity, but so that you also think of all those people who are staying home, respecting the quarantine and cannot join their families to mourn the loss. They have not even been able to say goodbye.”

Many in Spain are finding themselves in this dilemma of on the one hand caring for older people and on the other keeping them at safe from risks.

A co-worker left Madrid to visit her parents, who are also elderly and in poor health.

Later she was told our department was in quarantine because of a coronavirus case.

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