Today (Monday) marks the five days since I went on forced quarantine over Coronavirus in Sweden.
Earlier this week, our department was informed that we had to work from home as we had come into contact with a person who had recently travelled to Switzerland which is the 5th most hit country in Europe and 9th in the whole world. Over 3000 people have been hit in that country. We interacted with her for a week.
Another person I know has been home for almost a month now since their trip to Italy. They have confirmed that it was the feared Virus.
I first heard about Corona at the beginning of this year. Just like most people, I thought China was too far away for it to affect me directly.
To be frank, I did not realise the consequences of this outbreak until last week. And even if I got it, I believed would survive and move on with my life.
After all, I work out and eat right so I have a lot of faith in my immune system.
One of my greatest fears living in Europe is to die here and leave my family with the burden of transporting my body back home.
I have always told people that if I ever fell ill and saw no possibilities to survive, I would board a plane to my preferred final resting place, Kenya. Now, Corona has happened and even the airlines I was relying on are almost out of business.
Sweden, which has a population of 10 million has 1200 confirmed cases and seven deaths.
Swedes are naturally calm people who love their quiet lives indoors with minimal interactions. You feel it more when until you walk into a store and find shelves or get into empty buses and trains. In fact, in some routes, public transport has now been withdrawn.
Reality checked in for me when a fellow Kenyan in Sweden, who is close to retiring announced that he had lost most of his retirement plan savings to the shaky market shares. He lost close to sh10 million. The coronavirus pandemic has hit markets on a global scale, with the stock market hit the most on a scale not seen since the global financial crisis in 2008.
The airline and hotels businesses are haemorrhaging jobs with the tourism sector having laid off more than 15,000 employees as of March 16th.
Most recreational facilities like gyms were closed down a week ago to curb the spreading of the virus. The employees have been forced to go on unpaid leave.
Leading clothes store, Joy Shop (MQ Holding Company) filed for bankruptcy on March 18 leading to more job cuts. The future of employees in industries especially automotive industries like Volvo Trucks, Volvo Cars and Scania who are some of the biggest employers in Sweden is very shaky as they struggle with the decision whether to close down factories within Sweden having closed in other European countries.
My contract with my employer expires in June. Talks about my future have been suspended indefinitely.
The first people to get Corona in Sweden had travelled to Italy and Iran for holidays In January. Two weeks ago by the time I was leaving work on a Friday, according to world meter website, there were only 700 cases and one person dead. On Monday morning the number had risen to 1000. These are just the recorded numbers. Today the number stands at over 1600.
This is happening to a country like Sweden where they practice social distancing year in year out. You can only imagine what can happen in Kenyan if is not taken seriously!
Parts of this article was first published on The Sunday Standard on 22nd March 2020