by Jane Xia BSc.Pharm, PharmD, MBA
I recently celebrated my 23-year anniversary since immigrating to Canada from Wuhan, China.
When COVID-19 (coronavirus disease-2019) was first reported back in early January this year, I was shocked and afraid for my distant family who still live in Wuhan, China. Fortunately, they have religiously exercised social isolation and, luckily, have not been infected. I felt a bit sad at the same time because Wuhan city received somewhat of a bad reputation. I always remembered this city with some of my fondest childhood memories. As you can imagine, I was relieved once the world health organization decided to give the virus an official name SARS-COV-2 or COVID-19 instead of the initially reported Wuhan Virus.
At first, this COVID-19 scare was in China and it sounded far away. We continued going about our day embracing our freedom to roam around the city without fear and anxiety. Unfortunately, it did not take too long to reach Canada and the rest of the world. Never have I ever imagined this virus would reach the status of pandemic. Then everything changed.
The new reality did not hit me until UBC first broadcasted on https://www.ubc.ca/campus-notifications/ to transition in-person to online class effective Monday, March 16th, 2020 for the remainder of the term. Professionally, there is a large degree of personal pressure to learn how to use various applications quickly and engage students in online learning. My colleagues and I have been meeting in virtual chatrooms I never knew existed. As tight deadlines quickly approach, more discussions and meetings ensue. One thing is for sure and that is marking hundreds of assignments digitally is much more difficult and takes two to three times longer than simply using pen and paper.
Personally, my routine and rituals have taken a 180. I can no longer attend my cardio dance classes, social functions, or see my parents due to physical distancing. I try to FaceTime and Skype as much as I can, but I definitely miss the in-person interactions and connections. When I go grocery shopping once every two weeks, I can sense the tension from the cashiers who are displaying distress and nervousness. Even a courteous verbal “hello” will elicit stress. I can feel the panic from shoppers by looking at the empty aisles and refrigerators in various stores. Toilet paper seems to have found its best publicist in centuries as it always seems to be sold out. Despite the sharp drop in gas price, there is hardly any traffic on the road. Meanwhile, exercising has been a challenge. I now use the “Sweat” app and YouTube dance videos to keep me moving three times a week.
I know my colleagues who are working in community practice are facing high levels of stress with drug shortages and patient needs. On top of which, the sudden change in policy where BC pharmacists can renew prescriptions without a physician’s authority during this pandemic time has conjured many unanswered questions. There is a lot of uncertainty and a ton of discomfort with the lack of predictability of the near future.
Each day, BC has new COVID-19 cases. We now listen for how many new cases we have rather than if we have any cases. More strict government regulations are implemented to combat the spread. The healthcare officials are making huge decisions to flatten the curve to ensure there are enough resources to absorb the upcoming impact of COVID-19. Many companies are taking drastic measures to curb the spread of this virus at the consequence of layoffs and cutbacks. The unemployment rate is climbing while many people are facing mortgage dues and unpaid bills.
Although it is awful that we have lost a sense of normalcy, I feel like this is a test for us, humans, to demonstrate our character. It is time for us to be resilient, disciplined, and compassionate. I can appreciate all of us are bracing for the worst right now and it is hard to see the end of the rainbow, but it will eventually come. The storm is here. Let’s do our part and do our best to stay home. Let’s channel our inner patience.
Jane Xia BSc.Pharm, PharmD, MBA works at the University of British Columbia as a lecturer.