COVID-19 crisis:

A brief for students in Amsterdam

By LUCIA MASIP | April 4, 2020

Cover photo by Adli Wahid / Unsplash

What started as a ‘flu’ outbreak in Wuhan, and seemed far away from our Wester​n-minded reality has now become a world-wide issue. This coronavirus goes by the name of COVID-19. The 11th of March, it was officially characterized as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). However, this probably comes as no surprise if you have been anywhere near any device or had any contact at all with humanity in the last three months. 

One of the biggest threats which have arose are the media and the filter game we must follow when reading the news, when searching for reliable sources. With the saturated amount of news and updates on the virus, we attempt to simplify everything we know so far, and what we can do to help stopping the spread.

 

How is the situation in The Netherlands?

The government of the Netherlands has provided a list of measures to partake in to battle together against the virus. On top of social distancing and the closure of universities and public spaces, sadly for all our party-loving readers, all big events are cancelled until June 1st. As for now, bars, restaurants and other public spaces such as gyms or sex clubs will be closed at least until April 6.

While the impact of the pandemic is uncertain, it is expected to have a deeper economical, social and of course, humanitarian damage. There are now almost 10,000 confirmed infections and over 639 deaths in the Netherlands, making it the “Top 11th” most infected country (of confirmed infected patients).

Even though a vaccine is already being developed and tested on patients, it may take a few months. Another positive study is currently being researched by Dr. Raoult, a french professor who argues the possibility of anti-malaria drug chloroquine to be the a potential cure for corona vaccine as well. Regardless of this, we must still be conscious of our actions, and realise that social distancing, as boring as it can get, is the most powerful measure we can take right now as civilians. 

 

UvA’s response to the COVID-19 crisis

The UvA has confirmed that for now, exams will still happen as long as these are online. For those who had physical exams, these will be postponed for now, as gatherings of big groups are not allowed. Every course is working different, so make sure to keep yourself updated through Canvas. The same goes for classes, as most subjects now provide the option of attending your classes online as long as the university is closed. 

Unfortunately, the university has also confirmed that graduations have been cancelled and as for now, there won’t be any graduation ceremonies celebrated this academic year.

You can find all about the UvA updates here.

 

What to do if you present symptoms

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness and dry cough. More severe cases can present other symptoms such as shortness of breath, aches and pains, as well as sore throat. 

If you are in the Netherlands and you think you may have the virus, the government recommends to stay at home. This will prevent you from spreading the virus if you have it. If the symptoms disappear after 24 hours, you can consider that the virus is gone. However, if the symptoms get worse, notify your GP, however, don’t expect to be tested, as there is a shortage of tests and they are mostly being used on the vulnerable groups. This would be elders and people with breathing problems. If you are a student at UvA and don’t have a general practitioner, you can also contact the student doctors.

 

How to combat the virus

The most important action that can be taken is washing your hands. This means that you should not only rinse-off your hands with water, but actually getting in there and wash them for at least 20 seconds. The CDC explains how to wash them and when to use hand sanitizer. It is also important to avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, nose and mouth, as they can be gateways for the virus to enter your system.

Another important action, is to distance yourself from people. Social distancing probably is one of the most used term at the moment, but what does it really mean? It is the most powerful, non-pharmaceutical measure we can take to stop spreading the virus. By keeping a physical distance from other people we are able to stop the propagation of the virus, or at least slow it down, giving the health services more time to properly combat the virus. This means to avoid leaving your house if it is not necessary.

They are not asking you to stay at home to protect you, but to keep the vulnerable groups safe and lower the risk of infections.

In the following video from the WHO, you can see what the advice for the public is and what measures you should take.

Tips and tricks to deal with the quarantine

To make the quarantine a little easier, make sure to keep in contact with your friends and family. For example, “Houseparty”, an video-call app, has gained popularity during the lockdowns around the world. The Amsterdammer Magazine Instagram account @the.magazine.ams has created playlists, recommended books and much more to keep you sane during this quarantine-times. Lastly, another option is to learn a new skill that you have been always dying to learn, and take this calm at-home time to develop your talents! For instance, online course websites such as Coursera, Lynda and Udemy can be good start-points for this.

 

These are stressful times, and everyone deals with the situation differently. Just make sure to understand that whatever you feel, and however you are dealing with it, is completely valid. 

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