Opinion: Covid-19: Be there for each other

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Youth Voice

Caitlin Berquist 

Whakatane High School 

If you had told me I was going to exist in the times of a historical disaster, a global pandemic would have been the last thing I would have expected, and I’m sure you feel the same.

For me as a teenager, the current spread of COVID-19 is having a huge impact on my life.

I am lucky, as a healthy, young teenager, there is very little chance that I will be badly affected by the virus if I were to get it, yet it is causing me so much stress, worry and exhaustion. I worry for my friends, my family and everyone in our community.

There is so much uncertainty surrounding this new, infectious disease.

In less than a week, New Zealand alone had more than a tenfold increase in the number of cases, and this was just last week!

All of our camps, trips, sports games, competitions and even practices are cancelled, or postponed until further notice, as it is considered too dangerous for us to be coming in such close contact with each other.

Schools have had to change the way they teach in order to cater to a potential online future with the inevitable school closures.

Mass gatherings of more than 100 people are prohibited, yet we were still expected to come to school, and learn and act as normal, not knowing which will be our last day of school.

I have had to say urgent goodbyes to some of my close friends who have been in NZ for a long time on an international exchange, but due to the border and airline closures, have had to go back home, with less than a few days’ notice, whilst others may be stuck here for an indefinite amount of time. Many didn’t get to finish their exchange and their lasting memories of New Zealand are now a blur.

On a personal front, our family B&B apartment is now cancelled, and consequently a source of income lost for my family – especially in times like this, when my parents are out of work.

Now we are in ‘lockdown’. A situation that, if I was told would happen a few months ago, I would never have believed.

Our future is uncertain; we don’t know for sure how long we will stay at level four, and how much better or worse the situation may get.

These are hard times for all of us, and we need to be here for one another. I urge everyone reading this to take care of their loved ones and hold them close. Check in on your family regularly and see if everyone is okay, not just physically, but mentally too. Be there if someone wants to talk, or needs a shoulder to cry on. We can’t possibly know what is coming, but we can be there for each other when it does.