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"I've never heard London so quiet." 4 women on what it's like being in lockdown around the world.

When Wuhan and most of the surrounding Hubei province in China went into lockdown due to the outbreak of coronavirus, now officially known as COVID-19, the world looked on in astonishment.

Suddenly, thousands of residents were forced to remain in their homes. Essentially, the whole of Wuhan was closed.

Now, just two months later, there are over 334,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 around the world.

As the virus, which has now been deemed a pandemic, continues to spread, nations around the world have begun to introduce strict measures in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus.

From social distancing recommendations to full-blown lockdowns in countries including Italy and France, the situation is ever-changing in Australia and around the world.

In order to get some insight into what the various stages of lockdown and social distancing are like around the world, Mamamia’s daily news podcast, The Quicky, spoke to three women who are currently in lockdown or self-isolation around the world.

Mamamia’s daily news podcast, The Quicky, speak to three women who are currently in lockdown around the world.

From Hong Kong to Spain and London, here’s what they had to say.

Lotta Haegg in London.

Lotta Haegg is a BBC journalist and radio producer based in London. For the last nine days, Lotta has been in quarantine at her home after falling ill with COVID-19 symptoms.

Although Lotta had the symptoms for coronavirus, she wasn’t able to get tested in London as she didn’t meet the specific criteria.

Speaking to The Quicky, Lotta shared how she experienced a strong sense of community while she was in quarantine.

“When I went into self-isolation, that was when it was really just starting to kick off in the UK. I was trying not to read too much into coronavirus while I was sick because I’m alone so I didn’t want to be isolated, alone, and reading this sort of sense of doom,” she said.

“I had people that delivered stuff to me and checked in on me every single day. There was this really lovely sense of warmth and community.”

Mamamia’s Claire Murphy breaks down your most asked questions about COVID-19. Post continues below.

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Since coming out of self-isolation, Lotta has realised just how much London has changed since the outbreak of the virus.

“I think there has been a sense of panic buying here. But I think the English, in a way, are also quite sensible,” she said.

“I went down to the supermarkets today because I’m allowed out of the house again after being in quarantine. Meat is definitely becoming short on the shelves. But I found toilet paper. And there was this sense in the store that people respected space. People understood that we need to keep out of each other’s way.

“The schools closed on Friday and the bars, clubs, pubs and gyms are now closed. I’ve never heard London so quiet. It was quite bizarre. There were no planes going overhead. No mad rush of cars or kids on the street. It was just really quiet. It was the first time it reminded me of Australia in a way, because I thought it can get this quiet in a city in Australia on a Sunday. You never really get away from the bustle in London.

“There is definitely a sense that the city has understood [the seriousness of COVID-19].”

Maria Albinana in Spain.

Maria Albinana is currently in lockdown with her Australian partner and their mothers in Spain after having to cancel their wedding at the last minute.

“We had a lot of people coming from overseas [for the wedding] and that was tough,” Maria told The Quicky.

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Image: Supplied.
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"Before we went into lockdown, we thought a lot about whether we should go ahead with the wedding or not. There was a big part of me that thought we should [call it off] but cancelling a wedding is massive.

"Just before we went into lockdown, we sat down and decided that we had to cancel for the benefit of all of us. You can not imagine how many people called me. It was really beautiful to have so many calls from people saying thank you. For the safety of everyone that we love, it was better not to do it.

"Four hours later, after we made our decision, we went into complete lockdown. So even if we wanted to get married, we wouldn't have been able to."

Since going into lockdown, Maria, an actress and dancer, has been keeping busy by filming and sharing easy workout videos online.

"I think it's good to try and keep ourselves optimistic. Quarantine is already pretty hard. Staying home is hard and there's going to be tough moments but we just have to hold strong. I don't think anyone knows how this is going to develop or what is going to happen next."

Anthea Murray in Hong Kong.

Anthea Murray is currently living with her husband and their toddler in a high-rise apartment block in Hong Kong. Their next-door neighbour has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

Speaking to The Quicky, Anthea shared how the situation has changed over time in Hong Kong.

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"It's been interesting. Initially, in late January, when word first came out of China, Hong Kong went into lockdown.

"They cancelled the classes, civil servants were sent to work from home, which set a precedent for others to work from home, and we went through what people in Australia and around the world are going through now. People were panic buying toilet paper too.

"It kind of stabilised through late February and early March and life kind of returned back to normal. But now, it's changed again. The stress levels are higher, in some ways, than they were in January. The cases [in Hong Kong] have shot up with people returning from abroad. The anxiety is more heightened than it has been."

Since January, Anthea's child has been home-schooled, which has been "pretty brutal".

"His school has been amazing. They have been sending daily classes and activities. The kids are all quite restless. They're out of their routine. I think they miss the discipline of having a routine."

Julie Crews in Italy.

READ: Julie planned to spend a few months in Italy. Within weeks, she was desperately flying back home.

Dr Julie Crews, an academic and lecturer, was in Italy on long service leave when the situation drastically changed.

After a week of undergoing intensive Italian classes in Bologna, Julie travelled via train to a small suburb, which was located 20 minutes away from Venice. In that small town, Julie moved in with a family, as she began tutoring their six-year-old son.

“[After I moved there], things started to drastically change,” she told Mamamia last week.

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Rialto Bridge in Venice, which is normally teeming with tourists, looks noticeably quiet. Image: Getty/Supplied.
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“At first, there was school isolation as schools were closed. But then it became this whole thing where you had to stay in your area,” she explained.

“The family I stayed with – they couldn’t go outside their area or they risked getting issued a fine.

“It was a huge difference. There were suddenly signs up in all of the cafes and restaurants stating that you have to keep a metre apart from others.”

During her time staying with the family, Julie witnessed the streets of Venice becoming noticeably quieter.

Within the three weeks that I was in Italy, things changed pretty quickly," Julie recalled.

"It was so eerie because Venice is always full of tourists. I could just wander through the streets of Venice and not see anybody else," she added.

"All the [people who work on] gondolas are normally flat out taking tourists along the canals. Instead, they were all just sitting there in their gondolas."

For Julie, simple things like going to the local supermarket soon revealed just how serious the lockdown conditions were.

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The streets soon became incredibly quiet. Image: Supplied.
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"Just before I left [the town near Venice], I went down to the local supermarket. It was a small supermarket and there was a guard outside. You had to wait until one person walked in and then a few moments later, they'd let in another person," she said.

"I know the same thing was happening in the bank," she added.

"With the one metre apart rule, if bars and restaurants didn't abide by that, they could get fined and they were very heavy fines."

Feature Image: Supplied.

For more on COVID-19:

The Australian Government Department of Health advises that the only people who will be tested for COVID-19 are those with symptoms who have either returned from overseas in the past 14 days or been in close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case in the past 14 days. 

If you are sick and believe you have symptoms of COVID-19, call your GP ahead of time to book an appointment. Or call the national Coronavirus Health Information Line for advice on 1800 020 080. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 000. 

To keep up to date with the latest information, please visit the Department of Health website.


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