• 2020.04.03
  • The Novel Coronavirus Pandemic
Corona, corona, corona…
Not a day goes by where you don’t hear that word.
Corona, corona, corona…
The world is in a panic.

It’s fantastic advertising for the beer company, at least…
In early February, I got a ton of photos in my messaging app showing men passed out all over a room with Corona beers everywhere or a young person staggering around drunkenly with a beer in one hand—with titles like “the victims of Mexico”. Everyone thought they were hilarious, but people gradually stopped laughing. At this point, I doubt there’s anyone left that’s still linking the beer with the virus.
Of course, we never expected that this would turn into a global pandemic.
There were two Portuguese among the passengers of the Diamond Princess that was docked in Yokohama, and I became worried when the news showed their anger during a video chat with their family. It all became real to me when the news reported the first case in Porto, though the person ended up testing negative for the virus. Over the next few weeks the cases slowly increased to a handful of people… and then boom. Dozens of people had it.
The virus is spreading slowly here in Portugal compared to other countries—especially Italy but also other European countries like France and Spain. Still, cautious measures are rapidly being put into place. The department of public health started talking about it early on, and the individual municipalities have also been discussing which countermeasures to put in place.
When someone became infected at a concert, the public was advised to voluntarily avoid gatherings of five or more people. In Mafra, where I live, they’ve closed public gyms, pools, libraries, museums, and similar facilities. They also decided to suspend school trips, club activities, cultural activities, markets, and the like until April.
Many schools are already out for the school year, but my kids’ school is taking measures cautiously—even though things are being discussed so much. Events like presentations were immediately postponed, but my kids keep asking why they are still having classes as they wait for school to be canceled.

When it comes to shopping, the stores ran out of masks immediately after the first case was reported in Europe. Shortly after there was a run on hand sanitizer as well. Then alcohol-based disinfectants. My husband went to the store today, and said that people were rushing to buy nonperishables like pasta, flour, canned goods, and rice. There were apparently long lines in the meat department as well.

This might sound strange since I’ve been talking about nothing but the coronavirus panic so far, but personally, the whole thing seems pretty “pointless”. I’m not saying there’s nothing at all to be concerned about, but I wish people would calm down a bit. The news reports seem totally overblown, and there’s no reason for us to swallow everything they tell us without thinking.
For example, I’m not saying masks and hand sanitizer aren’t effective, but are people stopping to think of the price they’re paying for buying all that stuff? Once they have it, do they feel totally safe?
he fact that we have such easy access to information these days has enriched our lives, but people need a viewpoint of thinking critically about what they see and hear. What is the source of our news? I think we have to go with our guts sometimes. In any case, it’s important that we develop the ability to be discriminating in how we select our news.
With the novel coronavirus, the first thing to do is to not panic! Wash your hands, rinse your mouth, eat well, get enough sleep, and build your immune system so that your body is resistant to the virus. That is the key.
If I can just overcome my sleep deprivation, I feel like I’ll be fully in good shape when the coronavirus pandemic comes to an end.


  • Megumi Ota
  • JobConservator, interpreter, and coordinator / Insitu (restoration), Kaminari-sama / Novajika, and others

I’m a conservator and preservationist living in Portugal. I specialize primarily in paintings (murals) and gold leaf design, and am involved with UNESCO World Heritage structures as well as the interior of the Palace of Belém. I derive great satisfaction from having close ties to my community in the rural village near the Silver Coast where I live. My hobby is gardening.

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