It All Felt Like A World Away

May 1 2020 Ciara O’ Sullivan 5th Year

When COVID-19 originated in China in late 2019, for me I felt like I lived another world away, but I became increasingly alarmed when it decimated Italy’s elderly population. It was only then I felt it was inevitably going to spread to Ireland. Whilst I and many others were feeling incredibly scared, anxious and stressed our anxieties heightened when the Taoiseach said “it’s the calm before the storm” in his address to the nation. There was a sense of panic experienced across the population as we were going into unexpected waters. I feel that not knowing the outcome of this pandemic in these unprecedented times has made things increasingly worse. Whilst I know it will have a profound impact on our economy and wellbeing, it will also have a significant impact on everyday things we take for granted such as leaving the house when we want.

I greatly appreciate the work our teachers have put in our schoolwork over the past few weeks as I understand this is new territory for both students and teachers alike. It took some time to adapt to this style of teaching as we were all accustomed to the old, traditional way. Those who adapted more effectively and efficiently were at an advantage and the new system will help them to reach their full potential. Before the dream of a school closure came true, even when the Taoiseach announced the closure of schools on the 12th of March, I celebrated the opportunity, but now it’s my worst nightmare as I feel it is difficult to keep up at a steady pace due to the extra distractions and the extreme pressure. Getting an email from the Guidance Counsellor about considering college applications both in Ireland and abroad really hit home as this seemed like a world away less than two months ago.

It angers me to see people disrespect the HSE guidelines by socialising and having house parties, treating the virus and the lockdown as opportunities for a vacation. I don’t know why some people can be so callous and obnoxious. I am raging that people can act so irresponsibly whilst people are working their socks off on the frontline, putting their own lives and the lives of their loved ones at risk. I admire the incredible bravery of our healthcare workers, including the people who have come home from abroad and out of retirement to help us put up a fight up against this virus. As Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said “Not all heroes wear capes”.

During this difficult time I can truly say “I’m proud to be Irish” with communities pulling together to attend those at most risk in society. Whilst this is a phrase used often during sporting tournaments this shows the true meaning behind it.

On reflection, the problems I’m facing due to COVID-19 are small compared to the hundreds dying daily across the globe. I have huge fears, however, around the uncertainty of what’s next. My biggest fear is losing someone I love so dearly to the virus, and no one knows who’s going to get it next. While I am anxious to return to “normal”, this is now the new “normal”, and we have to accept that and abide by the HSE restrictions put in place. By doing so we are saving many hundreds of thousands of lives. Whilst everyone is praying for this horrendous nightmare to be over, we must not be complacent as the longer we abide by the guidelines the less time it will take to resume our everyday routine.