Meath citizens caught up in Covid-19 global pandemic
Many Irish citizens across the world have been struggling to get home in the wake of the global pandemic that is Covid-19. MICHAEL KEAVNEY spoke to three people from Meath about their experiences.
Fiachra McEntee (Nobber)
"Having spent the last few weeks travelling throughout the southern hemisphere I’ve seen various levels of response to the Covid-19 situation. I flew home to Ireland from South Africa at the beginning of February for a funeral. At that point the coronavirus was only talked about in the context of people in China.
"After a short stay in Ireland I flew to the United Arab Emirates and then on to Bali. In both places authorities were only interested in talking to people who had been to China but it was noticeable that more people were wearing facemasks. I made my way to New Zealand - and their level of strictness was a bit of a shock. It took three hours to get through customs checks there.
"The airports in Fiji and Tonga were the same. Although the general public weren’t overly fussed by the virus, the authorities were very strict on it.
"In Australia there was no real panic until around last Friday (14th March). The Austrlian Grand Prix has been cancelled but most sports events are still going ahead, albeit behind closed doors. I was at a Melbourne Rebels rugby game last week and a member of the crowd tested positive, so others who were in that area are being contacted and asked to be tested."
John Paul Kennelly (Dunderry)
"Life in Los Angeles has virtually ground to a halt to stop the spread of the virus. Undergraduate classes in the city’s universities have been moved online leaving the campus virtually soulless.
All group meetings, conferences and travel have been banned, as too have all concerts and other entertainment events, which have been for so long the lifeblood of LA. Grocery stores full of people wearing masks are being emptied of food faster than they can be stocked. Public buses are empty and the roads are strangely silent. Uber have offered 20% off in a plea for people to leave the house.
"It's hard to remember what we talked about before this virus. A week of unprecedented rainfall started in LA to match the damp city mood."
Conor Foley (Clonard) and Carly Riter (Canada)
"There was meant to be a massive festival called 'Fallas,' which is a traditional celebration held in commemoration of Saint Joseph in the city of Valencia, Spain but it was cancelled.
"We were originally scheduled to fly home from Barcelona on March 21st. The government shut down all bars and cafes on March 13th - and there were police cars driving around telling people to go inside, so we decided to go home. All flights from Valencia were booked for the following week, it was hard to get a place. Luckily a spot came up at the last minute and we went to the airport immediately.
"The flight home was surreal; the plane was only half full. However we were quite lucky because a lot of flights were cancelled, so we were fortunate to get out."