I went to Hong Kong on January 12 to attend a 2-month research project. Other than the news about a new coronavirus in Wuhan, everyone in HK was living at a usual pace. On January 23, just before the Lunar New Year celebration, the first case of COVID-19 was reported in the region.
The few weeks that followed were the scariest weeks for me. A couple more cases were confirmed, implying that the virus could be spreading. News and speculations in HK spread like wildfire. More and more stores were closing while necessities were running out. All of my travel plans were also canceled and my family’s plan to visit after the project had to be called off. On top of that, I was told by the project supervisor not to go to their office until further notice. He even let me decide whether I stay in HK or fly back to the Philippines to continue my research.
It came to a point where I felt lonelier and lost all sense of control. I was, without my awareness, already experiencing stress and anxiety.
I asked myself: where is this fear coming from? I began by limiting myself from watching too much news and resorted to facts surrounding COVID-19. Then I realized it was not the virus alone that I was fearful of. All along I WAS FEARFUL OF THE UNKNOWN: me not knowing if I would get the virus, me not knowing what happens next, and me not knowing what to do. The more truth I learned about the virus and the more I understood the situation, the less scared I had become.
I told my supervisor I would stay.
While I felt the virus was controlling me in the first month, I was ADAPTING to the virus the next month. By mid-February, stores gradually re-opened and people started coming back to work. I had to go out to resume work and buy necessities. Thus, I had to do everything in my power to prevent myself from getting infected. I maintained social distancing and personal hygiene and stayed fit by eating healthy and exercising. Above all, I distracted myself with the research while keeping well-informed about COVID-19. I brought these things with me until I flew back to the Philippines on March 14.
More than a month later, I am proud to say I did not contract nor bring COVID-19 back to my family. But the thing I am most proud of was how I CONTINUE TO BRAVE NOT ONLY THE NEW VIRUS BUT ALSO THIS COMPLETELY UNFAMILIAR SITUATION. The COVID-19 pandemic and the anxiety that goes with it are far from over. What we can do now is hold on to our knowledge of the virus as well as our breakthroughs during this crisis. Lastly, realize the things we have now and not the things that were taken away from us. ❤