QUARANTINE - DAY 8 - 13th March 2020
Today on Friday, the traditional day for family and prayer in the mosques. The mosques' doors remain closed but the Adhan (call to prayer) continues 5 times a day, (now without the usual second Iqamah call) . Prayer now only takes place at home. A Bethlehem father of three shares his experience so far.
Eight days ago, the Palestinian health ministry announced that they have discovered that the covid-19 virus had finally made it to Palestine, Bethlehem in particular. The government declared an emergency. Since then, my family and I have been staying home most of the time. Not all the family members are happy about the schools' closure. The kids spend most of their time on their phones or nagging each other. All of them including my wife, who teaches at Hebron University, are anxious to know how and when classes will be resumed. All universities and schools are considering giving classes on-line but its merely talk so far due to lack of preparation for that big task.
The mosques are closed. Normally I go to the mosque regularly but now I can't. For the big Friday Prayer, my brothers and I gathered in our building and my oldest brother gave the Friday Ceremony speech. All the government institutions are closed. I haven’t been to my work in Abu Dis in the Jerusalem suburbs since the quarantine was announced. A few of my co-workers have called to check on me and my family. WhatsApp is now the main source of communication with all our friends and the rest of the world. I get so many messages, to the degree its beginning to affect my nerves. A lot of it is fake news.
Bethlehem residents are not allowed to leave Bethlehem district. No one from outside the districts can come in. The Israeli soldiers shut down all the checkpoints that lead to Bethlehem. I am sure the laborers who are paid on a daily basis are devastated. Soon they will run out money.
The streets are almost empty which is a good chance to give my daughter driving lessons. I go out shopping whenever I have to. I take my hand sanitizer and, to be honest I have not put on a mask yet. I use the hand sanitizer after every visit to a different shop. I try to remember not to touch my face while I am out until I go back home and wash my hands really well. We spent the time home on the phones or watching TV. The word coronavirus is the most frequent one in the news nowadays. To make good of all that free time, every day I clean up and re-organize one of the kitchen cabinets while waiting for normal life to resume.
We know for sure its going to get worse before it gets better. Until then we hope and pray.