COVID-19 is forcing us to adapt to rapidly evolving circumstances. Two News-Decoder correspondents recount their challenges.


People stand in designated areas in an elevator as a social distancing effort, Surabaya, Indonesia, 19 March 2020 (AP Photo/Trisnadi)

Two of our correspondents have sent in accounts of how they are coping with the new coronavirus. One writer is in a hospital in Sydney, Australia, while the other is hunkered down at home in London.

COVID-19 is a waiting game

By Richard Hubbard

I currently reside in a small, 15-by-20-foot room in an undistinguished building, part of a hospital complex in eastern Sydney, Australia. I was diagnosed three days ago as having the coronavirus disease, COVID-19.The reason for my internment is the impact of the virus on my lungs and my body’s oxygen levels. It has not caused any great flu-like symptoms other than the coughing.

While the medical staff are all doing what they can to help, that by their own admission is not a lot. They don’t have any answers.

At present, I take paracetamol regularly. It helps, but you don’t need a doctor to prescribe it.

Otherwise it’s a waiting game. Keep washing hands, use tissues and dispose of them quickly, eat healthily — the advice is quite basic.

Meanwhile, the medical visits are rationed as protective equipment supplies run low but no one is panicking.

One is left waiting for nature to take its course with a little help from human intervention and a lot of hope the human body’s great immune system will once again get us through.

(For News-Decoder stories by Richard Hubbard, click here.)

* * *

Change is here to stay.

By Colin McIntyre

Confined to our home in London under a virtual government order, a 76-year-old with an 80-year-old wife with a heart condition, the immediate future looks bleak.

While the fatality ratio of the latest coronavirus outbreak compared to some previous pandemics is relatively low (although the speed of transmission of this one is scarily fast), we are in the most vulnerable category. We are advised (make that ordered) to stay at home, not to go out unless to shop for food.

That, in itself, is a problem as all the supermarkets around us have been stripped bare of basic foods, medical supplies and, above all, toilet paper.

Looking back on previous health emergencies over the past decades — Spanish flu, SARS, Ebola — one is encouraged to believe that this one will soon be over.

However, the prospect of possibly not seeing our six-year-old granddaughter for three or four months, because she could be a carrier without showing any symptoms, is heart-wrenching.

My visits to the local pub have been curtailed (it will close soon anyway), my choir has suspended rehearsals and our next concert is likely to be cancelled.

I am reasonably sure that we will be looking back on this as just another passing phase. But not quite convinced.

(For News-Decoder stories by Colin McIntyre, click here.)


  1. Do you know someone who has COVID-19? If so, how are they coping?
  2. If the elderly are the most vulnerable to COVID-19, what can we do to protect them?

How is COVID-19 affecting your life? What are your thoughts as you look to the future? Feel free to drop us a line at
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Health and WellnessCOVID-19: A passing phase or lasting change?