As this COVID-19 outbreak evolves, numbers keep going up around the world and we all stay locked at home trying to make some sense out of this, the weather in Macau decided to make things that little more challenging with a sudden, industrial dose of humidity.
This is hardly surprising because, unfortunately, it’s that time of the year when relative humidity goes as high as 99%. Water starts dripping down the walls, the floor is always wet. You see the signature of humidity everywhere.
As a thick layer of fog descends upon the city, the air feels dense and heavy. You are treated with a low ceiling that hides the sun and the blue sky for the longest days.
Old school Portuguese residents like myself will tell you this is the capacete – Portuguese word for helmet. The photographer in me will tell you everything looks like Fujifilm Classic Chrome. Somebody played with the saturation slider, placing it on the minus side.
Every colour looks muted – and depressingly so.
When I look at these photos I almost think the humidity and the COVID-19 are a perfect match. The virus is somewhere out there. For I can’t help but to look at this setting and think of disconcerting, anxiety-laden representations. This goes back to the urbex imagery I spoke about in my last post. Think Pripyat.
I know this is a bit of a stretch as here in Macau we are relatively safe and far from any catastrophic scenario. At least for the time being. But then this is coming from somebody who’s been locked at home for so many days now. To dive into a philosophical mode and give wings to imagination in such circumstance is not necessarily a bad thing, is it?
The challenge of COVID-19 is that it’s invisible. It’s not like a fire, a wild animal or a round of tear gas you run away from. A perfectly healthy human being may potentially carry and spread the virus without showing any symptoms. Apparently it can be carried through the air, as by aerosols rather than heavier droplets released when an infected person sneezes or coughs.
And now people are sharing information on how long the virus can survive outside of a human body. Depending on the surface it lands on, it goes from hours to days. Touch wood may not necessarily prevent you from bad things nowadays.
Whether you want to believe in this stuff and how you protect yourself from the risks is something for you to decide. I don’t see myself as an over-cautious, paranoid individual. But the reality is that with all this now, the moment I step out of my place I always wear a face mask and think twice before touching on anything.
Handrails, door handles, whatever. I’m using my elbows and my feet as much as I can. I press the lift button with my elbow, I kick open fire doors in the carpark. I lost count on how many times a day I get my hands disinfected with alcohol and wash them following the 20 second advise from the World Health Organisation. And I’m keeping a so-called social distance when I talk to people.
Obsessive compulsive behavior? Who cares, just being cautious. And I’m not the only one anyway.
Whatever the case, it’s not that I spend much time – or any time – in public spaces nowadays. The only chance I get to see my city is behind the closed windows of my car. It’s been some time since I walked down a street. I’m keeping the discipline and strictly following the Government’s advise to stay home.
Unfortunately, not that everybody is doing the same. In my everyday commute chauffeuring my domestic helper, I see more people out in the streets now. As I write these lines, it’s been 11 days without any new COVID-19 case in Macau. Quite a feat, as local community outbreaks are taking place in neighboring Zhuhai and Hong Kong.
I assume people in Macau are feeling confident that this thing is under control. And with essential public service resuming next week, there is a sense that things are slowly going to get back to normal. I hope they are right, but to be honest I’m not so sure.
Let’s wait and see. I’m keeping my guard.
As the saying goes, prepare for the worst and hope for the best.