Well the old coronavirus severity has really ramped up since I was laughing about it on here a few weeks ago. I don’t know what the atmosphere is like in the rest of the world, but here in South East Asia people are starting to take some rather drastic steps to curb its spread. This past weekend was supposed to be all of our sporting tournaments for the season and arts and MUN conferences as well. These take place at different international schools all over the region and determine who will be in which “division” for the next sporting year, with teams relegated and promoted between two groups. One by one all of these tournaments got cancelled (even though none of them were in China or against any Chinese-based schools) and the poor kids were left with no way to wrap up their seasons. So disappointing for them, and frustrating for families who purchased flights to watch the games and in some cases flew family members in to watch as well. But it’s understandable as no one wanted to be the tournament that spread around coronavirus, even though I feel like the risk was actually super low.
I am apparently in the minority however, as even though supposedly there are no cases in Myanmar (ummm, the only place in SE Asia to not have any cases, sure) wherever you go in Yangon you are constantly having your temperature taken. Everyone has those hand-held scanning thermometers that read your temperature without actually touching you. You have to get scanned before entering many buildings and restaurants. However, those things are completely pointless as my temperature has been reading at anywhere between 90 and 94 degrees. Perhaps I have turned into a lizard, but I think the more logical suggestion is those things don’t work. Anyone who gets a reading that they have a temperature above 99 must be on actual fire.
I have a sneaking suspicion that we are going to have to come up with a new plan for April break as I’m not sure this is all going to blow over enough for us to go to Beijing. Bye-bye money I paid to China Airways…
In a feat of spectacularly bad timing, there is a gross cough going around school. Apparently doctors are calling it the “100 day cough” and many people are affected by it. Little kids are gross at the best of times with the nose picking and indiscriminate sneezing, but this has taken it to a new level. The medical clinic at school has been trying to really push frequent hand washing and just generally how not to be disgusting, but it’s not helping much. I have taken to just yelling “so gross” when I see a little kid cough onto their computer or sneeze and not cover it. They don’t care though, they are shameless.
Normally I can maintain a somewhat safe distance and also take precautions like never touching a kid’s computer or allowing them to touch mine. But recently I have been doing a lot of research with the 4 year olds in Pre-K and it is impossible to protect myself. Normally if kids come to the library, I spend a lot of time telling them to back up until they are at a safe distance away from me-see above picture. But when you enter a Pre-K classroom you just get swarmed and everyone is always touching you.
Right after these pictures were taken, the kid in the blue sweater sneezed directly in my face and then asked my why my nose was so pointy. Later he added the fun fact that I had weird hair. Thanks kid, that’s the last time I help you find out which planet has the most moons! (Saturn, 82 to Jupiter’s 79, which Blue Sweater reminded me the next week when I forgot. He also let me know that meant that Jupiter had 3 fewer moons and then he read me a paragraph about the controversy over Uranus’ planetary status. What the heck kid, you are 4!) It was still a better day than the week before when another kid barfed directly on the table while I was helping him find out how many poisonous snakes are in Myanmar. The teacher acted like it was no big deal, but I was doing quite a lot of dry heaving in the corner.
At the moment, I feel like the much bigger threat to my health is actually the air in Yangon. Since we are still in the “cool season” many people feel like this is the perfect time to burn stuff, especially fallen leaves. There is often a plastic bag or two thrown into these tiny little street-side bonfires and there are so many of them the air quality is really affected. Here is a picture on our lakeside walk this morning. Normally that view would be crystal clear.
The other morning I went for a run and the Iraqi embassy around the corner had 5 fires going-you couldn’t even see across the tiny street! So gross. There was a sports day a school a few weeks ago and the air was so bad we had to send out all the security guards into the neighbourhood to ask people to put their fires out so that the kids could be outside and actually breathe at the same time. Just stopping the fires directly around the school made a major difference. Someone needs to start some community composting stat! Gav is in charge of monitoring the air quality at school and can often be found rushing around with the little sensor thingie while teachers look on in horror, crossing their fingers that recess doesn’t have to be in their classroom. Clearly Gav’s job is very glamorous!