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  • Writer's pictureafricmcglinchey

Long in the windows

Updated: Oct 27, 2021


A record of a year

Our single shipwreck, the translucent floor through which we’ll peer at the vacant room below our own…

Paul Celan

What must our Season be, which starts from Fear? Live and go out.

—Gwendolyn Brooks

1 January

Clusters of pneumonia cases….a seafood market… Wuhan…

3 January 44 cases, 11 severely ill.…

12 January 763 close contacts…healthcare workers…difficulty in breathing…Wuhan city, a major domestic and international transport hub….

13 January First recorded case of the virus outside of China, in Thailand…If symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness develop either during or after travel, travellers are encouraged to seek medical attention and share travel history…

22 January …Proportion of deaths in reported cases of 4% (17 of 557)…Exportations in the Republic of Korea, Japan, Thailand and Singapore…the members of the Emergency…The source is most likely an animal reservoir…All countries should be prepared for containment…

23 January

Wuhan, a city of more than 11 million, is cut off by the Chinese authorities…

24 January

Anonymous (Wuhan)

Chinese New Year’s Eve. Although there are only two of us, me and my mother, she always prepares a lavish meal for a proper celebration, with fried lotus root, Chinese kale and fish meatballs (we call these yuanzi in Chinese, yuan meaning “round” and symbolising reunion).

25 January

…a global heath emergency is declared…7818 cases confirmed in 18 countries outside China…


numb on our lips

Anonymous (Wuhan)

Tonight, along the bank of Yangtze River, buildings are lit up with the words ‘Keep up Wuhan.’As the weather is better, we can gradually see a small number of people exercise outdoors. The work of volunteers has cheered people. Of course, not everyone is coping well. People whose family members or friends are infected are suffering.

5 February

The Diamond Princess, a cruise ship in Yokohama, Japan begins a quarantine of 3 600 passengers after 218 of them are tested positive….

Anonymous (Wuhan)

Another rainy day. I visit a hotel manager who is offering free accommodation for health workers who have no way of travelling.

7 February

Dr Li Wenliang, the 34-year-old Chinese doctor who tried to raise the alarm about Covid-19, dies after contracting the virus….

11 February

The disease is given a name: Covid-19 is an acronym that stands for Coronavirus Disease 2019. The name makes no reference to people, places or animals associated with the virus to avoid stigma…

Anna (mother, Kinsale)

Covid. It’s what we get for over-population, overdevelopment, going into areas where bats should be left alone and building there instead. The earth has a little sting in its tail and it’s called pandemic after pandemic. Ultimately we have to consider how we live.

12 - 14th February

Geneva, Switzerland. WHO convenes 400 experts and funders from around the world, to develop a Blueprint strategy for developing drugs and vaccines…

Anonymous (Wuhan)

People in several buildings are chanting “keep going Wuhan” at each other. I guess the city is somewhat suffocating.

14 February

An 80-year-old Chinese tourist dies in a Paris hospital. 1 500 have died in China, most of them in Hubei Province…

Egypt reports its first case, the first in Africa…

Radio static

our short-wave prophets

19 February

More than 600 passengers on the Diamond Princess have been infected by the virus by the end of their quarantine…Iran announces its first case…

23 February

Major outbreak in the Lombardy region of Italy. 150 cases. Ten towns are locked down, schools closed, sporting events cancelled…Cases in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates and one in Canada, have been traced back to Iran, whose borders are crossed each year by millions of religious pilgrims, migrant workers and others…

Anonymous (Wuhan)

It hits me that cleaners in this city still work every day. They have no rest and are disinfecting and cleaning the streets.

24 February

Iran announces 61 cases and 12 deaths, more than any other country outside China…

25 February

A 61-year-old Sāo Paulo man is the first known case in Latin America…

29 February

The first confirmed coronavirus death in the US…Global cases have risen to nearly 87 000…

The first confirmed case in the Republic of Ireland — a student in the east of the country, who has arrived from Northern Italy…

How we live

is a quarantine for over-population,

too many buildings.

The earth has closed and sporting events are cancelled

Amplification has occurred;

a little sting…

3 March

The virus has killed 3000 worldwide, and infected more than 90 000…

6 March

18 cases in Ireland…

Time is an unbuttoned


Anonymous (Wuhan)

After watching a video of a man square dancing online, in colourful, cotton-padded pyjamas, I have started looking at ways to have a better life inside lockdown. Now I am dancing too, and singing and cooking.

10 March

The Chinese President, Xi Jinping, has made his first trip to Wuhan since the outbreak…A total of 34 cases in Ireland…

11 March

WHO has made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterised as a pandemic…An elderly patient in Naas hospital is the first casualty of the virus in Ireland. Nine new cases bring the total confirmed cases to 43…

13 March

Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund launched to receive donations from private individuals, corporations and institutions…The US declares a national emergency…

Whole countries adrift

Our alertness

struck, like a match

16 March

223 cases in Ireland, with a total of 2 deaths…

21 March

121 new cases reported in Ireland, bringing the total to 785…

24 March

The Tokyo Olympics are delayed until 2021…India declares a 21-day lockdown…

27 March

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announces that he has tested positive for the virus…Taoiseach Leo Varadkar declares a series of measures which he summed up as: "Stay at Home" (subject to certain exemptions)…

Louise (Dublin)

I saw Nathan for my birthday, wearing masks. We walked in Phoenix Park together. No hugging.

Millions of religious pilgrims

share travel history

and divergent views

1 April

212 cases and 14 deaths reported today in Ireland, bringing the total number of cases to 3 447 and total number of deaths to 85…

2 April

The pandemic has sickened more than one million people in 171 countries across six continents, killing at least 51,000…

6 April

UK president Boris Johnson tests positive and is moved into intensive care as a precautionary measure…

8 April

Across the Wuhan section of the Yangtze River, skyscrapers and seven bridges radiated with images of health workers, troops, police officers, and people in other professions that have held their posts in order to keep the city running in a difficult time…

Anonymous (Wuhan)

I haven’t been outside for more than 70 days, being indoors for so long drove me crazy. We were too excited to fall asleep last night. I was looking forward to lockdown lift very much. I set up an alert to remind myself. I was very happy. Of course we are all wearing masks and gloves.

10 April

12 000 cases are reported in Russia, two thirds of them in Moscow…

15 April

Among the deaths announced, a 23-year-old said to be the youngest person to have died in Ireland…

Anna (Kinsale)

My dad was in the car with his cousin who, it turns out, was positive. Thankfully my dad was wearing a mask and didn’t get it.

19 April

A further 445 cases in Ireland…and 39 deaths… bringing the totals to 15,251 cases and 610 deaths…

Anonymous (Wuhan)

How can you spend your way out of recession when you have a mortgage and other bills to pay and your job is under threat? It is going to be a tough year for Wuhan.

26 April

The confirmed global death toll surpasses 200 000… 2.8 million cases have been reported worldwide. The actual toll is greater by an unknown degree…

30 April

Introduction of face masks on major airlines…


Two people down the road from us have it.

People look out of their windows,

sit behind a computer

or go out to restaurants anyway

1 May

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announces the extension of current restrictions…

5 May

Doctors in France make a discovery that rewrites the coronavirus timeline, saying it reached France in December…

Colm (Dublin)

In the beginning I was worried for other people and that’s why I was adhering to the guidelines. But with the masks and face screens, it feels like there are no real personal interactions any more.

15 May

Dr Mike Ryan, head of the WHO health emergencies program, says the virus may become a permanent part of our lives, even with a vaccine…

Anonymous (Wuhan)

My father-in-law developed a cough and we strongly requested a nasopharyngeal swab test, but the hospital refused to perform the test. Within a week all four of us in the family were infected. I had a crazy cough, a fever of 39 degrees Celsius. I felt cold but my body was hot. I also suffered from stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhoea. When I finally got diagnosed, I was almost relieved, because now I could be treated. But I researched online to see how my treatment compared to that of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) patients in 2003, to ensure I wasn't taking medication with long-term side effects. They gave me medication usually used for treating HIV, an experimental treatment. After being discharged from hospital, I was told that almost all my personal belongings, including clothes, books and other items, would have to be destroyed. My wife and mother are still in hospital. I prefer not to use my name because of the stigma surrounding those with infections.

22 May

Brazil reports the second highest number of cases worldwide, with 330 000 cases. Peru and Chile are among the hardest hit per capita worldwide, with 1 case per 300…

Colm (28, Dublin)

We can meet in shops or restaurants but not in each other’s houses. It makes no sense…

27 May

More than 100 000 people with the coronavirus are recorded dead in the United States, four months after the first confirmed case, the death toll far higher than any other in the world…

Anonymous (Wuhan)

I have heard stories about negative patients turning positive again. I watch the news and know there's that possibility. I don't know if that will happen to me and I'm a bit worried about it, because there still isn't clear information about this disease. You can't really say someone is completely cured.

31 May

Mass protests in at least 75 cities over Minneapolis police violence in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Most protesters wore masks and the demonstrations did not produce a surge in cases…

Anonymous (Wuhan)

Medics are using a mixture of anti-virus medication and Traditional Chinese Medicine to help patients recover. Doctors are protecting themselves from the virus by wearing hazmat suits, along with another layer of protective clothes and gloves, and N95 face masks.

2 June

In Ireland, a further 10 cases and 8 deaths, bringing the total to 25,066 cases and 1,658 deaths. Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, said: ‘Over the past week there have been approximately 500 new cases of COVID-19 notified, 54% of which are aged between 24-55.’

Colm (28, Dublin)

And the media started this finger-pointing: if you’re not wearing masks you’re being selfish.

I think if we went back to normal it would play itself out. But I don’t think the intent is for us to go back to normal.

11 June

Coronavirus cases in Africa top 200 000. Since the first case was reported in Egypt, it took 98 days to reach 100 000 and has taken only 18 days to double that figure…

Maeve (30, Zimbabwe)

The only sign that the coronavirus exists is that people wear masks. A Covid-Page on Facebook updates every day and confirms the number of cases and deaths. But I haven’t checked in weeks and weeks so I don’t even know what the stats are.

29 June

Phase three of easing the COVID-19 restrictions begins In Ireland. Remaining businesses reopen, including all pubs serving food, cafés, restaurants, hotels, hairdressers, beauty salons and tourist attractions.

Colm (28, Dublin)

I am just not a rule follower. If people want to hang out with me, great. And if the police say anything, I’ll say oops, sorry…

7 July

Brazil’s president tests positive after brushing aside precautions…

Maeve (30, Zimbabwe)

I haven’t heard of anyone who got a case through a local transmission. My cousin Tanya and her boyfriend Chris got it when they were in Austria. They were tested at the airport and held at Joburg. For two or three days it was really bad but then it was fine.

15 July

The government of Ireland announces five key priority areas:

  • Face coverings must be worn in all shops and shopping centres. Retail staff will also be required to wear them unless there is a partition in place or there is social distancing of 2 metres between them and customers.

  • Pubs, hotel bars, nightclubs and casinos will remain closed until 10 August. Pubs currently serving food can remain open.

  • Social visits to people's homes should be limited to a maximum of ten people from no more than four different households.

  • Current restrictions of 50 people in indoor gatherings, 200 at outdoor gatherings is being extended until 10 August.

  • It is continuing to advise against all non-essential travel.

Anna (Kinsale)

I’m being paid like shit to teach English to non-nationals. And eight or maybe nine out of ten don’t even believe in Covid. They take off their masks etc. But you have to make a living. So I’m doing another course now. I’m becoming a breathing instructor…

17 July

India surpasses a million coronavirus cases, with 25 000 deaths…

Colm (28, Dublin)

You can get social interactions online with social media.You can do shopping online. You can get food deliveries. You literally never have to leave your house. And now they’re saying you CAN’T leave. One thing that crosses my mind — I wonder who’s benefiting from us being at home?

21 July

EU leaders agree on an €857 billion package to benefit the nations hardest hit by the pandemic…

The Department of Health in Ireland announces that face shields will be accepted as an alternative to a face covering on public transport.

Maeve (Zimbabwe)

The police are taking advantage of the mask situation. We were driving without masks and they stopped us and said they were going to arrest us. I think they were looking for a bribe. Eventually they let us go.

24 July

In Ireland, a further 20 cases and no deaths are reported, bringing the totals to 25,845 cases and 1,763 deaths.

Louise (Dublin)

The canals are full of people with drinks, someone playing guitar etc. You can understand how people need to get out. You sense they’re not taking it seriously. But they may be carriers and may be affecting other, more vulnerable people.

6 August

The coronavirus has spread to at least 177 countries, killing more than 610 200 and sickening more than 14.7 million in a matter of months.

Anna (Kinsale)

The concern isn’t so much about dying, but if there will be long-term impact. They’re talking about inflammation of the heart, heart arrhythmia, lung clots, even if you’re asymptomatic, this is what they are finding.

18 August

In Ireland, new restrictions are imposed.

  • All outdoor events will be limited to 15 people

  • All indoor events will be limited to 6 people, except for religious services, weddings and businesses, such as shops and restaurants

  • Gardaí will be given new powers to enforce rules around social gatherings in restaurants and bars serving food, and in private homes

  • Restaurants and cafés can remain open with closing times of 11.30pm

  • People will be advised to work from home and to avoid using public transport, unless absolutely necessary

  • Sports events and matches will revert to behind closed doors with strict avoidance of social gatherings before and after events.

Colm (28, Dublin)

Society is easier to control if everyone is in their quarters and doesn’t leave their zone

It feels like excessive government control — and now they can trace our movements.

5 September

A further 231 cases in Ireland, bringing the totals to 29,534 cases and 1,777 deaths.

Louise (Dublin)

While I was facilitating students coming in for college at the airport, I came across Brazilians being imported to work in the meat factory. There was a huge outbreak in meat factories. Is that being watched? We’re being told we’re not allowed any visitors to our houses, but they’re bringing in people from high risk countries and putting them in shared rooms. A lot is being kept under wraps.

12 September

Around 3,000 attended two anti-mask protests organised by the Yellow Vests Ireland group at Custom House Quay in Dublin.

Louise (Dublin)

I get angry when I see the anti-maskers because they are paying no attention to any of it. They have come up to Dublin twice, shoulder to shoulder, disrespectful and very selfish. I’ve got friends who are married to doctors, and when you hear them talk about it, pleading with people to take things seriously, because it impacts on people with cancer and other illnesses. When our ICUs are full with Covid patients, what happens when there’s a crash and the injured or dying have to be turned away because there’s no room?

Anna (Kinsale)

It’s interesting to see the anger-responses in some people about wearing masks. People with right-wing leanings are pushing against wearing masks and social distancing. And I’ve even noticed people who would be very anti-vaccine etc being a little provocative about standing closer to you than they ever would, pre-pandemic. But trying to handle that in a pleasant way is a bit of a challenge. People going to supermarkets without masks. But even if you think masks are bullshit, why not wear one just to make that 75-year-old walking down the aisle feel more comfortable? Just do that.

Louise (Dublin)

On a personal level, I’m missing my kids, because they were all going to come over here this summer, and that all changed. Then they were going to come for Christmas and that’s not going to happen. My youngest is living with his girlfriend in Brighton now and things are tightening up there, so I don’t know when he’ll get home. And I haven’t seen my other two children for nearly two years But thank god for technology because we can talk to each other on Skype. Imagine during the Spanish flu when letters were all they could hope for. So there are lots of blessings as well.

The dark reminds us

of our finite selves

Shake a light

at the TV weather

13 September

A primary school in Rathcormac, Co Cork, confirmed a case of COVID-19, becoming the third school in County Cork to confirm a case of the virus…

Anna (Kinsale)

Holly goes to a dance school where 350 pupils attend the jazz and ballet classes. We’re on Level 3 and it’s clear that she should be closing. But she says ‘I’m in education, and education is continuing.’ So it’s been divisive. She’s undermining the government’s attempt to manage this whole situation. No one can come for play dates with my only child, and the reason is that so many people like XXXX are bucking the guidelines, and that’s pushing up the infection rate. If people refuse to adhere to guidelines, then we’re all fucked.

24 September

The Health Service Executive of Ireland launched its €600 million Winter Plan to help tackle the challenges posed by COVID-19.

Key initiatives within the Winter Plan include:

  • Additional Community Healthcare Networks and Community Specialist Teams (Older Persons and Chronic Disease).

  • Additional intermediate care beds.

  • Additional access to diagnostics for GPs.

  • Additional acute bed capacity.

  • Additional home support packages.

  • Additional private bed capacity.

Colm (Dublin)

We had six months of prep to equip ICUs with ventilators and train staff. So we should be prepared.

But there are still restrictions everywhere. Work-wise, it sucks.

Louise (Dublin)

It’s our world war isn’t it. Affecting everyone.

These are the battles,

blown enamel bubbles,

red salt

28 September

70 cases reported in Cork have been linked to pubs and restaurants over the previous 14 days…

Maeve (Zimbabwe)

At Tara and Crick’s open-air wedding, no one wore masks and no one discussed the virus.

But we saw the news about the second wave in Europe and that sounds scary. The difference here is that we have hot weather. I think we’re in a much better position. Other than Tara and Crick — who remained quarantined in Jo’burg until they were recovered and only then flew home —I haven’t heard of a single person who’s had it…

29 September

The number of burglaries in Ireland dropped by 52.8% between March and June, coinciding with the imposition of COVID-19 restrictions…

We collude in our losses

Chafe and twist

We must believe our ears

Louise (Dublin)

Now that we have to keep a social distance, we notice each other more. Because the Darkness into Light project had to be cancelled, a guy sang on his steps by the green and we all carried candles. And people looked out of their windows, or lit candles in their windows. Some people walking in the green, sang along with him. The guards were there checking to make sure people were adhering to the social distancing, but there was a really warm connection. We’ve experienced loads of special moments like this with our communities.

2 October

Three days after his first debate with Biden, Trump tweets that he and his wife have tested positive and will be going into quarantine…

Colm (Dublin)

There’s more testing going on too, so it seems as though the figures are rising, but are they really? The hospitals are not being overrun… Personally, I do what I want and my friends are the same. So my social life hasn’t gone out the window at least.

8 October

Trump refuses to participate in a virtual debate with Biden…

16 October

Pfizer confirms it won’t seek authorisation for its vaccine before late November…The US passes 8 million infections… Indonesia overtakes the Philippines as the hardest hit country in Southeast Asia…

Anna (Kinsale)

My sister’s neighbours in Guam — all four of them got it and the granny died of it. The others were pretty sick. The guy that my partner plays with in his band, himself and his wife got it at the start of March. Both are still sick. His wife has inflammation of the heart. They call it Covid-long. She’s exhausted, breathless, drops the kids to school, goes back to bed, just can’t manage. The husband has a high-flying job, he’s not back to normal, breathlessness as well, and cognitive problems. She had no underlying issues at all, whereas he suffers from asthma. But in many ways, it’s been a positive experience. There’s so little you can do that there’s a beauty in what you do do. I feel like I’m missing out less because everyone’s missing out. I could never go out to restaurants etc anyway because my take home pay is so abysmal… I haven’t met one person who hasn’t said that Covid has given them time to relax and take stock and realise they were spending far too much time in the car, running around, a mad pace of life. As for seeing friends, we’ll have to buy skiwear and stand outside together.

The present

becomes less bothered

by divisions

and quarantines

we keep ticking

like a time bomb

16 October

Nancy Stewart, who has survived the Spanish Flu and a recent serious chest infection, turns 107 today and still lives in her own home. ‘People stayed inside during the Black and Tans era but that was different, you knew what the enemy looked like and you could still reach out to others to comfort them with a hug,’ she says. Nancy has been cocooning since March…

And there are angels or agents,

whose curious burdens

are to keep riveting

our darkness with torchlight

Maeve (Zimbabwe)

I think slowly and surely it’s going to become part of life.

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