Zena Johnson’s Reflections on Lockdown

9 April 2020

by Zena Johnson
Occupational Therapist – Nurture Vereeniging

My first knowledge of Corona was hearing the news of a virus that had made it onto the prayer agenda of a group that I’m on. China seemed far away and as I was in Rio de Janeiro experiencing the hype of my eldest child finishing the Cape2Rio race, I did not give it any importance. The race ended and it was time to fly home. Chinese travellers were wearing masks at the international Saõ Paulo airport and as our airplane lifted into the air, a mist of virus annihilator descended over the passengers. The mist brought back a childhood memory of a car journey to Lake Kariba, in which spray mist was used to control Tsetse fly.

Much attention was given to the year 2020 being a year of plenty and work resumed presumably in pursuit of the plenty. The news began to speak about the spread of Corona in Italy and a cruise ship the Diamond Princess being infected. Hand wash stations were at all church entrances and a lady arrived at church wearing a mask. Then church stopped, no more meetings of more than a 100 people. The Meyerton Athletics Chat group began to be inundated with runners fearing the worst. No freedom to run in the streets. Then the president announced a Lockdown. Fear gripped as I realised work could stop. My son was in Cape Town, what if he became ill and I was too far away to help. I offered to send him preventive medicine via Post Net. He declined and announced that he would be arriving home before the Lockdown. It felt like he was coming home for a funeral. Would my children become sick, would he catch it on the plane, would my sister now alone in Cape Town die without us. United the three of us. Lockdown but surrounded by family. Lockdown but stilled privileged to work as an essential service. The feeling of a funeral wake lifted.

I began to watch numbers, read graphs, listen to voice notes and hear theories of the 5G causing illness whilst doctors work themselves to exhaustion to isolate a virus that does not exist.

First day out on Lockdown. Eerie, no cars, shops are closed. It looks like the videos of Wuhan and the Facebook posts of the UK. I feel like I am an actress in the movie Bird Box. This is so unreal. I need to get mindful. I have to go to a shop to see if there are still people in the Vaal Triangle. Yes! Some are wearing masks, the till attendants are smiling and friendly as if this is any other day. The customers are spaced as if they measured a 2 metre distance between themselves and another with a metre rule. Eye contact appears dangerous as if the virus will penetrate from one’s eyes to the next. People look away.

Work goes on, home goes on, I have learned to pace a 2 km run in my 100m long garden. I will receive a reward after Lockdown, a Mzansi Lockdown Marathon T-shirt to acknowledge my law abiding discipline and the fact that I survived 42 km of garden running.

Have a great Lockdown weekend.