What can we all do now to prepare if community restrictions to deal with the COVID-19 are implemented.
Reflecting on my experiences of a sudden and restrictive lockdown in Manila, here are some of the preparations to put in place now that could help if restrictions do become necessary. This is not official advice; it just what were some of the struggles people had, what was helpful, and some of the inspiring responses of the community to help people out.
1. Payment for household help and staff. Ensure you can transfer money electronically to those who rely on you and consider payments in advance so they can also take necessary preparations. Think what supplies they may need such as cooking equipment if restaurants and food stalls need to close.
2. Get to know your neighbours now! Set up community or neighbourhood groups on WhatsApp/ Facebook/LINE. These were invaluable in keeping people informed of services operating in immediate vicinity (ATMs, pharmacies, shops); helping each other out with transport, grocery shopping and sharing amusing GIFs to raise a smile.
3. Get connected to official sources of information. Regulations and restrictions changed very quickly and there was a lot of uncertainty, so keep yourself informed
4. There was no need to horde. In Manila, supermarkets have remained well stocked, but some delivery services such as water have been disrupted so extra supplies of key items is useful
5. Get access to copies of your regular prescriptions in case you cannot get to see your usual doctor.
6. Looking after pets. Consider what will happen to your pets in case you get stranded somewhere and put in place contingency care plans for them. Vets may need to close so consider if you need any services from them now. In Manila dog and cat shelters have experienced issues as their regular volunteers cannot come to look the animals. People have stepped up to offer homes to them.
7. If you have a care role or have help providing care to high risk family members, make sure to educate yourself and staff on preventative measures to take whilst providing care
8. Got an office or house that you may need to access but it is not near your home? Consider if there is trusted housekeeper or neighbour who lives close by that you can leave a spare key with.
9. Got an empty AirBNB? If the situation does escalate, and you have a spare condo or home near a key hospital, offering it to hospital staff and other key workers, who may prefer not to travel to their own homes where they can put their own families at risk may be appreciated. Think about offering any spare accommodation to those who may prefer and need to isolate away from their families.
We don’t know what the next few weeks has in hold for us in Chiang Mai, and we all hope these preparations will not be needed, but preparations now will make it easier to cope whatever comes.