Lumbuka Kaunda is a neuroscience graduate student at the University of Zambia. She shares the emotional impact that the unfolding news of the COVID-19 pandemic has had on her and on her capacity to focus on her research.
Initially, this felt like a far-fetched epidemic in China, a very distant land. I thought of it like SARS, which we heard of in the mid-2000s but didn’t experience here.
The reality for me hit when I heard that Italy had recorded a death toll of over 900 in a single day. The pictures of the overwhelming caskets with bodies awaiting burial literally caused me instant panic that this was real. My youngest sibling had just delivered a baby boy a few days before that and suddenly my emotions switched from excitement of a new addition in the family to fear of the baby catching this "demon" called COVID-19. But even then it was still a distant disease from our land.
I suddenly went into a "trance" when our country recorded its first two cases. The thought of sitting down to do my academic writing became secondary. I found myself more glued to social media, heightening my already anxiety-crippled brain, occasional panic attacks as to what will happen to me, my family if we got the disease, the economy of my country, what if we have a total lock down and we can't move around, what if this disease is here to wipe out the entire globe, or maybe it's the end of the world. These were my wild thoughts daily.
Currently I am somewhat filled with hope, yes hope, that it will be a near yet distant memory someday. But the question I have is, will the changes that COVID-19 bring for be for the good or the opposite? What we are sure is that we will have changed forever!