I had no idea what was lurking in the shadows: The Corona Virus.

We’d heard rumours about a virus in China. The Chinese seemed to have a handle on it, but I wasn’t entirely sure. My sci-fi-loving brain was constantly speculating about the many possibilities. The virus’s arrival in Italy seemed implausible to me, but I couldn’t accept that it wasn’t real. I had a few different scenarios running through my head, plus a few contingency plans in case the much-discussed pandemic actually happened. I thought I was becoming OCD, which could be a great acronym for 2020!!

Many of my students and coworkers, not surprisingly, rejected the idea. Until recently, we believed that doctors and scientists had all the answers. I doubted they had all the answers, but it appeared that China’s smart people could handle the situation. Consequently, this topic became a hot topic in English classes. Most people only considered the insignificant arrival of the virus, which was expected to be more like the minor flu, while everyone scrutinised every possibility. I questioned whether or not I should have brought it up in class. I reasoned that this topic might not be as relevant to students’ lives as I had assumed. It’s possible that they needed to learn about business etiquette, vacations, cooking, and art.
People looked sick all around me. This particular student was sick for three weeks and appeared to be in terrible shape when I saw him in class. Due to the demands of caring for a husband and young child, the mother had no choice but to work and study, she said. I tried to get out of the way of one student’s coughs from across the table because I feared it might be Corona, which is a natural reaction. Everyone at work was sick, including one of my own. Respiratory illnesses were likely to spread among the students and employees who worked despite being ill in the cramped quarters. I’d have a bottle of liquid soap and a bottle of hand sanitizer on me at all times!

At first, I was shocked by the sheer number of sick people in the area, and I prayed that I wouldn’t be next. A lesson or an exam when one is sick just seemed like a waste of time. Because I had a flu shot just a few months earlier, I’m grateful for that! What if the vaccine had shielded me from a contagious disease that was prevalent in Italy? This could not possibly be the dreaded Corona Virus; it was a cold and the flu. That didn’t stop me from recommending that we take safety precautions.

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Because we didn’t encourage sick people to stay at home, I questioned everyone as to why. However, I was aware that management had no interest in what I had to say because I was a foreigner in a country plagued by xenophobia. An email I wrote previously suggested that educators and management should have collaborated in order to develop collaborative teaching strategies. People who weren’t interested in teamwork, of course, snubbed my ideas. My fear of becoming ill made it impossible for me to ignore this situation. “Why don’t we ask people to stay home or cancel a lesson if they have the flu or similar illness?” I wrote to management in an open letter. I received no response from this email.

I first learned of the epidemic in Lombardy on February 21, 2020, about a month later. Thirty-minute train ride to Milan Every day, a large number of people travelled to and from Milan. As far as I could tell, I had no idea how many people were infected with the Corona Virus. My muscles were sore for about three days. For the first time in three days, I couldn’t sleep past 10 p.m., despite the fact that I usually don’t go to bed until well after midnight. I’m not sure if I’ve been infected with the virus yet; it’s more likely that I haven’t.

There was an increase in the number of incidents. News reports said things were looking up for us in the Lombardy Region. I’d have to give up my daily commute by train. Despite the fact that emergency plans were put into place in 2009 to wipe out the Swine Flu, officials didn’t seem to act quickly enough this time around. The importance of the Corona Virus was downplayed by some Italian virologists. It seemed like the Chinese had it under control. European and Russian officials said it was not a threat to young people, and President Trump said it was a hoaxe. People over the age of 65 were dying in hospitals. I heard that doctors would have to make life-and-death decisions, giving preference to those with fewer pre-existing conditions because supplies were running low.

As if on cue, a massive wave swept across the planet. Although some politicians continued to downplay the threat, not all of them did so. I was aware that they were attempting to save their countries’ finances. I began to wonder what was going on in Russia because it appeared that the Russian people, in particular, were not preparing for the Corona Wave that would eventually hit. As for the Americans who were joking about it, the same holds true. A few revellers threw Corona parties in honour of the occasion in Germany. It didn’t take long for me to learn that it was wreaking havoc on New York City. A city of this size and scope would have difficulty dealing with it, given the looming job losses and the need to quarantine. The economy could go into disarray if so many people stay at home.