Part 8 – Diary of a Covid-19 Lockdown: ‘Survival’ tips

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By Bonnie Khan

As of March 9, 2020, Italy has been put on near-total lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus. It is the worst hit country outside of China with more than 90,000 infected. Bonnie Khan – a Trinidadian living in Venice, Italy – is recording her life during the lockdown.

Sunday March 29 developments

  • Number of infected people in Italy: 92,472
  • Number of fatalities: 10,023
  • Number recovered: 12,384

News roundup:

  • The infection rate is rising slower than previous days, which saw some upward spikes. These spikes were due to the increased number of testing.
  • Less people going to A&E and being hospitalised.
  • Special measures being given to families with children with disabilities who need to go outside to maintain a routine and keep mentally healthy.
  • Lockdown officially extended until April 18.
  • Health Minister Roberto Speranza: “We are still in the midst of the epidemic. I think that at this moment talking about reopening is inappropriate and irresponsible. We all want to go back to normal, but first we have to turn on one switch at a time “.
  • Flags across the country will fly at half-mast on March 31 to honour those who have died.

Day 21

Three weeks down. Three more to go. We hope. When I started this diary, I thought lockdown would have been easier, because in truth, I am this person…


It isn’t. Here are some lessons and tips we’ve used to cope, Lockdown survival tips if you will.

Lesson #1: Set up your daily routine and weekly meal plan

The daily routine needs to work for everyone in the home. As Diego’s school is closed and I’m not working, we still try to be productive. Diego’s developing online Italian lessons, I’m writing and pitching for new work, Arrigo has his schoolwork. Then there’s downtime and, of absolute necessity: individual ‘me time/space’ – which means we all go somewhere in the apartment by ourselves and chill, usually after lunch. When we’re stressed or feel like doing nothing, we do that too.

When I was growing up in Trinidad, we would always have Family Meetings for important issues, a simple format of gathering together the family, plainly stating the issue with calm and facts, then making sure everyone had a say and importantly, understood what was going on and why. That could probably be useful right now!

Meal planning: this helps focus our weekly shop. There’s no written meal plan – no one in this house is that organised! – but generally we have lasagne made by Diego’s dad, pizza and pasta on Fridays, spaghetti and fish & chips on Saturdays, soups, risotto or gnocchi and vegetable dishes the rest of the time. Since lockdown started, we’ve started cooking just enough for ourselves to reduce waste.

Our weekly shop replenishes the milk, eggs, fruit and vegetables, flour, sugar, butter, yogurt, tomato sauce, and other things like oats, laundry detergent or toilet paper if we’ve run out.

Lesson #2: Look out for yourself and your family!

When they’re giving safety instructions on a plane, they always say to put your oxygen mask on first before you help others. Same applies here. My responsibility is first and foremost to my family. If any of us get sick, we’re all screwed! So, we make no joke with going out only for essentials.

Also, looking on at what’s going on in the UK, the Netherlands, Spain, US, Trinidad and Barbados, I’ve realised that selfishness and stupidity are universal. While many are respecting the lockdown, there are always a few who aren’t and making it harder/more dangerous for the rest of us. I can’t do anything about them, I can only help my family, so that’s what I do.

Arrigo spent two hours on my back yesterday. Everywhere I go, he follows. Whenever I sit, he sits on my lap. He’s lucky he’s cute. Also, I prefer this to him getting sick!

Lesson #3: It’s okay to feel stressed. Don’t be too tough on yourself and others in your home

Everyone is at home. Everyone is in everyone else’s face even if they don’t want to be. People have to work from home and do home-schooling. Some people don’t have an outside space to take a breather. Kids will get stir crazy. Younger kids won’t understand what’s going on. Today, Arrigo was upset because he couldn’t play with our neighbour, a schoolmate, in our shared garden. She was upset because she thought he didn’t want to play with her. My friend’s five-year-old thinks that his friends don’t like him anymore. It’s tough.

So: do something you enjoy and connect your kids with their friends on Skype, WhatsApp, Zoom or the House Party app. Be especially patient with yourself and your family.

This is temporary. The quicker we all do this, the quicker it ends.

Husband’s moustache progress…not bad!

Andrà tutto bene, it will all be okay. Till next time.

See parts 1 to 7 below:




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