Diary of an Isolate

14 Days in Quarantine

Day 8

“We suffer more from imagination that from reality”

Seneca

A second RT-PCR Test was administered this morning as scheduled. We were told to be ready at 7am but the team turned up only at 11am. There were three people in all. The one who took the swab was dressed in jeans and a fancy shirt. The one standing right behind wore a PPE suit. He was holding labeled test tubes and behind him stood a women with a note book — at a distance wearing a mask and scribbling some notes.

When my neighbour expressed displeasure over the delay, the man who was taking the swab was displeased too; and stated that he had to do several tests and she was not the only one to entertain. I tried to calm him down by making small talk and speaking a few words in creole which he liked — I could gather from the smile behind his mask. Then they left.

There is a sense of monotony creeping in. After all what excitement can you derive from a space enclosed by four wall and an opening from which only birds can come and go. Yes — the health officer comes to check temperature twice a day and we greet each other and then he leaves. The hotel staff also comes to leave the food at the gate and ring the bell and leave. That is all the human contact we have experienced over the last one week.

I am a compulsive consumer of all kinds of news. One thing I have managed to achieve during this forced isolation is to unhinge myself from all harmful news feed. Sitting here it is impossible to assess what is going on outside my room.

And why should it matter to me if Tejaswi Yadav becomes the Chief Minister of Bihar or Trump becomes the President of United States. I guess people will get what they deserve including a punishment for their wrong choices.

There is a second wave ( or third) of pandemic in Europe. And there could be a fourth… and fifth one. Lockdowns are being announced.

The first reported incidence of influenza epidemic took place in 412BC in Greek colonies followed by Justonian Plague in 600AD and the Black Death in 1340. The practice of confinement was adopted by the French and the British between the 16th to 18th century only, partly as a protectionist measure to exclude each other from their respective trade. Its justification was however made in the context of public health.

It is rather strange that despite a history of 2,500 years, human beings have not been able to invent a coping mechanism better than isolation,quarantine and lockdown. Such draconian measures do not belong to the 21st century. In the age of wearable devices and IoT, we should not only be able to trace the infected but administer drug remotely too. What prevents us from utilising those innovative tools? Fear — perhaps.

But isn’t science and technology and innovation supposed to replace fear with confidence?

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