HOW WE LIVED THE PANDEMIC IN PORTUGAL
In February 2020 we say goodbye to our twinner friends from Marburg, Poitier, Northampton and Lasi in Romania after a week of skiing, friendship and lots of excitement, with the promise of seeing each other in September and full of plans for the coming months and years. There was news on the air about what was going on at the other side of the world but, as usual, it had nothing to do with us... When we came home, the information was alarming even for the calmest and most averse to great dramas. On March 2, the first infected were detected in Portugal and the numbers were increasing. The news of what was happening in other countries predicted the worst. We knew we weren't prepared for what was coming...! Situated in this western corner of Europe, we benefited from a few days to prevent ourselves and the government took immediate action that helped to control the exponential escalation of infections in the early days. The lock-out, the closure of schools and universities, telework and the closure of non-essential stores controlled, until the summer, what could be a great tragedy: no masks, no hospitals prepared to receive these patients, no ventilator or isolation beds. Everyone was complying because the fear was great. At that time Portugal behaved like a good student. All appointments were postponed, and, with great pity, we also had to cancel the activities of our Association, the CDCR, and the contacts became virtual. Hotels and visits, meetings and courses, shows and celebrations were cancelled.
As a country that we are with a strong tourist load, the news about our economy was very bad: the planes were on the ground, the restaurants and bars closed, and tourists do not even see them... The sun, however followed its route and summer brought some relief of measures. The numbers went down, and we breathed a little better. The foreign tourist was replaced by the national ones and, for some time, it seemed that the world wanted to normalize. But, in fact, it was for a little while... As winter approaches, the reopening of schools, and a little relaxation in behaviors, we fell into a second wave in which Portugal went from "good student" to the worst in Europe. It was complicated for everyone because tiredness took care of people, young people who wanted to contact friends, older people who could not be with families, workers who lost their jobs and saw their incomes decrease. In January and February 2021, we were living the worst time in the pandemic.
Vaccination, however, had begun. The first vaccines were given on a Sunday, December 27, but it still took some time for the effect to notice. First the professionals connected to health and the most essential areas, then the elderly locked up in homes with family contacts reduced to a minimum and continued thus, descending in the age groups. Gradually we felt a relieve of pressure. During the hot months of this year there was the resumption of some normality and by mid-September 80% of the population was fully vaccinated and 85% had at least one dose. The so-called "denialists" had very little expression. The accession was frank and absolute.
Today we are aware that the pandemic is not over and will not end so quickly and we will have to adapt to living with it. We know we're more defended but not completely immune. So, we must start living again within the normal range possible.
In our Association, during all this time, we have been connected online. We did zoom meetings and even managed to prepare a performance of traditional dances with colleagues from Latvia and Lithuania. This performance was presented online in April, at the “World Dance Day” ...
The pandemic has taught us how to use technologies to be in touch.
BUT REALLY NOTHING REPLACES THE WARMTH OF A HUG.