CLARE Scanlon is originally from the village of Crossroads near Killygordon. She is a daughter of Francie and Mary Scanlon.
She has been living in the Netherlands for almost 28 years and is a secondary school teacher in English. The school in which she works is situated in the most contaminated area in the Netherlands, North Brabant.
Brabant is a hub for the annual Carnival festivities which are mainly celebrated in the South of Holland during March.
This involves thousands of people celebrating in the streets of villages and cities for three days non stop. This has had a devastating effect on the number of people contaminated by the virus.
To date, over ten thousand have tested positive and more than 800 have died from the coronavirus in just a few weeks. These numbers are still rising.
“The Coronavirus started here during the school holidays in March. A lot of people went off to Italy, Austria and Germany for a skiing holiday not knowing that they were entering infected areas of the virus. They came back, taking with them the virus that would end up spreading rapidly within a few weeks.
“The Government has taken firm and precise action so far. We have had almost daily updates on new restrictions. Police and army have been put in operation to ensure compliance. What started out as be safe and keep social distancing has rapidly changed to semi – lockdown: all pubs, restaurants, most businesses and schools closed until further notice except for essential facilities such as grocery stores and chemists. All school and university exams were cancelled. No gatherings allowed whatsoever and only leave your home for food, medicine or short walks,” she said.
Similar to Ireland, people who have essential jobs may travel to and from their work and most of the public transport has cut down to a minimum.
“At the moment, hospitals in the south of Holland are overflowing with corona patients and their IC (Intensive Care) units are at their limits. Medical resources such as face masks, testing kits and respiratory equipment are low. The medical staff are working day and night to try and save lives.
“Many retired staff have even come back to help. Patients from the South are being transported to other hospitals further afield in the Netherlands which are also starting to fill up. Thankfully, Germany has offered their help as they have the available beds in their IC units.
“This is a terrible virus, people are isolated from their families, are isolated in hospitals, and finally isolated in death,” she said.
“My advice to people at home is keep away from loved ones in the coming weeks especially the vulnerable, how difficult it may be, but this will help avoid the spreading of this terrible virus. Use WhatsApp, Skype, phone or any other form of communication to keep in touch with family and friends. Hopefully we will come out of this soon and everything will be back to normal,” she added.
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