On March 07, 2020 the World Health Organisation (WHO) reminded all countries and communities that the spread of COVID-19 can be significantly slowed or even reversed through the implementation of robust containment and control activities, as 100 countries reported 100,000 cases of COVID-19.
Later on March 11, 2020 WHO characterized COVID-19 as 'pandemic'. As a result, many countries sealed their international borders.
STEPHEN LIOY, a travel photographer and writer based out in Kyrgyzstan was in Istanbul for his wedding when WHO declared COVID-19, a pandemic. Many international flights to Kyrgyzstan were cancelled, leaving Stephen stranded in Istanbul.
Being a US citizen, Stephen somehow managed to enter kyrgyzstan. But, by then Kyrgyzstan had already tightened restrictions and Stephen was sent to a former US military facility (now managed by Kyrgyz National Gaurd).
During this time I approached Stephen to talk his mind out, how it feels to be quarantined, is it good or bad? Let's read and learn that being quarantined doesn't mean 'end of world'.
Divya : How long have you been Quarantined? When did you move to home quarantine?
Stephen : I was in military quarantine for six days, finally yesterday evening (March 24th) the majority of the camp was sent home to finish out our 14 days on home quarantine.
Divya : How were the arrangements there?
Stephen : The facility was previously used as a US military base for soldiers transiting to the conflict in Afghanistan, so it was very much a military feel. We were housed in the former barracks, and while conditions weren’t really terrible, the base hasn’t been used since the US left in 2014 so it was all quite grimy. Plus, shared toilet, shower, and dining facilities were a bit concerning given the very real possibility that anybody had contracted the virus and might be a carrier.
Divya : What were the restrictions that bothered you most?
Stephen : Not being able to leave, of course! I came back to Kyrgyzstan to be with my family, so my primary goal was getting out and being with them (even if we can only interact from opposite sides of the doorway for now).
Divya : Do you think being Quarantined saved you and people around you?
Stephen : Certainly - at least one person in the quarantine facility tested positive for the virus, so keeping him out of the general Kyrgyz population certainly helped stop the spread of the disease to some extent.
Divya : If you have to mention the best part of being Quarantined, what would it be?
Stephen : The people inside (and to some degree even the staff there) were overwhelmingly positive and friendly - there was very much an ‘all in this together’ vibe that was inspiring to see.
Divya : How this phase affected you psychologically?
Stephen : I’m still a little shocked by it all. Waking up this morning in my own bed, it felt like an actual weight was gone from my body. For now I’m just relieved to be home, safe, with my family.
Divya : What was the first thing you did after you're home and the first thing you're planning to do after your home quarantine gets over?
Stephen : Well, of course the first thing I did was shower and wash laundry, to try to maintain cleanliness inside the apartment as best as possible. Once this is done the only thing I really want to do is hug my wife and step-daughter - I’ve been away from them for almost a month now, and they’re the reasons I flew back here knowing I’d be in quarantine.
And then i realized how lucky i am, that at least i can stay at home with my family around. Thank you, Stephen for sharing your experience. May you get to explore more, travel more, go rich in experiences and pen down everything for us to read.