We’re about a week into quarantine here in Gaza and it reminds me of the conflict back in 2014. Yes, there are huge similarities.
There’s a threat that might hit you anywhere at any time. Lots of precautions are being taken and we’re spending endless hours at home.
With the initial outbreak of the Covid-19 virus in far-flung countries, Gazans actually felt relieved as no cases had been reported in our country.
In fact, everyone saw the economic blockade and access restrictions that we have lived under for so long as a bit of a blessing. The limited movement of travellers minimised the probability of infections in this small high-density strip of land on the Mediterranean.
However, things rapidly changed when the Ministry of Health reported the first two cases of Covid-19 in Gaza. Two men who were travelling into Gaza from Pakistan had caught the virus and now brought it into our community.
Covid-19: A pandemic breaks through the blockade
I’m sure you can guess what happened next. Many people rushed to ensure they had everything they’d need to look after their families.
Supermarkets, bakeries, shops and ATMs were crowded with people trying to quickly grab whatever they could. However, many more Gazans did not. Simply, because they have no financial reserves to use in such situations.
When I went out, I wore medical gloves and kept a bottle of hand sanitiser in my car.
The first thing I saw as I left my building was the caretaker spraying disinfectant on the door handles, the lift, the stairs and the handrails. He told me I should clean our flat using disinfectant.
Once I reached the supermarket, however, I felt like I was going into a hospital because everyone was wearing gloves and masks. The people working at the supermarkets were running to refill the shelves.
It was pleasingly strange though to see that everybody was shopping with ease and that there were no fights over toilet paper or cleaning products!
Staying at home: Life in isolation
Since the shopping rush, everybody has been staying at home, holding their breath and hoping their loved ones will not test positive for the virus.
There have been many social media campaigns asking everyone to #stayathome and people have had to adjust.
My wife had a long discussion with her mother on the phone, who was trying to convince her not to attend a big family wedding. Likewise, Amira*, my four-year-old daughter, still doesn’t understand why school has been cancelled.
She keeps telling me that she misses her teacher. She still can’t adjust to learning at home.
However, despite the anxiety, staying at home also offers us a precious chance to spend some quality time at home with our families. We are trying to be inventive with activities to keep our child