Up until yesterday, I wasn’t worried about the corona virus. I followed from a distance how toilet paper, noodles, rice and the like are hoarded in Germany, Europe and the rest of the western world – and felt safer in India than possibly some back home. But overnight India changed its entry requirements. And now I wonder if I could get stuck here if the situation worsens.
The mood in our small German breakfast round this morning was different than usual. We were restless, thoughtful, rather perplexed. India has suspended e-visas from many countries overnight – even tourists from Germany are no longer allowed to enter due to the Corona virus (Covid-19). For us it means: nothing. After all, we are already in the country. But are we coming out again?
The virus was far away until yesterday. There were around 50 confirmed Corona cases in India today. We were little bit amused about people hoarding, we were fascinated to read that first league soccer games will take place without an audience. It was “really blatant” that so many trade fairs were canceled. What a (financial) loss for everyone involved, exhibitors, visitors, stand builders. For almost three weeks we have been concentrating on our breathing, thoughts and the correct alignment of our asanas in our yoga teacher training and are not only physically in a completely different world than the western one.
I kept asking myself how bad the virus really is. When I entered Thailand from India three weeks ago, my temperature was measured at the airport. I also had to confirm that I have no cold symptoms. I tried to read about it a little – but even experts disagree in their opinions. I looked at the numbers of flu cases, which are much higher than those infected with corona, but read that there are a number of reasons why you can‘t compare them. I tried to form an opinion. My result: Too many contradicting statements make it impossible for me. Now the World Health Organization has declared Covid-19 a pandemic. It certainly doesn’t just do that. So more than reason to take a closer look.
“The urgent advice to come back as soon as possible.”
And not only that. A friend from Berlin, who is always well-informed, advised me to come back to Germany immediately. A relative of another student working in a German ministry made the same urgent recommendation. She changed her booking and will fly home this weekend. Others participants from Europe are thinking about doing the same.
When fun becomes serious
On Tuesday we happily walked through the streets of Rishikesh to celebrate Holi, the festival of spring, colors and light together with thousands of others. Several people touched my face that day, said “Happy Holi” and applied the colorful, powder-like color to my face. Nationwide people celebrated. We enjoyed it so much to be part of this extraordinary festival. But: Holi could now have similar effects as the carnival in Germany.
Officially, there are only around 50 corona cases in India. However, the number of unreported cases could be significantly higher. The health system in India is extremely bad, and according to a text by the Züricher Zeitung (German only), public hospitals are already at their limit even without a virus.
Wait and breathe
At the moment, everyone can only guess how the situation is developing. My guided tour from Delhi to Kathmandu is supposed to start in two weeks. At the moment I don’t know if it actually takes place. Because if no tourists come to the country, there are no participants. It is also unclear whether a further trip to Nepal is possible. An entry by land is currently not possible for me. Visas are suspended, Visa-on-Arrival is only available at the airport in Kathmandu – and only if travelers can prove with a medical certificate that they have no corona.
What we see is that entire countries are being sealed off. No planes leave Israel, Italy has closed its borders. If the Indian government decides to take such a step, it could happen that I and the other course participants are stuck in India and in a country whose health care is below average. An employee of the German embassy in Delhi could not confirm that we would be flown out by the federal government in such a case.
We will now wait and continue practicing yoga. We keep up to date with current events via the crisis preparedness list and the Federal Foreign Office. We cannot do more at the moment. And at least right now coming back earlier doesn’t feel good and right for me.
Stay healthy, all of you! Namaste!
Cover photo: Two young Thais wear masks. Not an unusual picture in Thailand. Since the outbreak of the Corona virus, more people have been seen with protective masks than usual.