Kabayanmark, a British pilot working for Capital Airlines, and his Philippino wife tried to return to Manila, the capital city of the Philippines around the Chinese Lunar New Year vacation. They departed from China and then transferred at Inchon airport in South Korea, as Philippine government had already implemented a ban on inbound travellers from China on February 2nd.
Against the background of the COVID-19 outbreak, from January to March, traveling from place to place gave Kabayanmark and his wife first-hand experience of the control and prevention measures taken by China, South Korea and the Philippines during the pandemic, such as quarantine and lockdown.
Kabayanmark said "we are facing a difficult situation", but he believed that cooperation in solidarity could make us get through the tough times amid the outbreak.
Countries responded in different ways
Kabayanmark lived in Guangzhou before he left China, where he said that local government’s actions were meticulous. "Temperature checkpoints were set up at the entrance of toll stations and communities. There were no people generally outside. Most people wore masks," he said, adding that a lot of people bought groceries and food online.
Kabayanmark arrived in South Korea on March 4th, three or four days before Daegu became the epicentre of the country's outbreak. Therefore, during their 14-day self-isolation, he found the authorities "chose to use amazing amounts of resources and technology to track and check each person in order to contain the spread of the virus. Every mode of public transport and shop had temperature checks".
During Manila's lockdown, he saw people in the Philippines take all precautions, such as continuously spraying sanitiser and wearing masks, keeping physical distance from each other, with just "one person per household going out for a limited period per day to buy essential items".
The priority now is to fight COVID-19 together
Life in these three countries made him understand that the virus has no borders. The priority now is to fight COVID-19 together. "I don't think the source matters at this point. To those who pointed the finger, how come the fingers wasn't pointed when it was MERS?" he said.
According to Kabayanmark's observations, negative feelings arising due to the outbreak have sometimes led to misunderstandings and disputes with foreigners in some countries. Alleged ‘discrimination’ or ‘anti-foreigner’ behaviour was "actually a clash of cultures", he said. "The outbreak has had negative impacts on people, such as lower income and mobility restrictions, but has also left us more time to stay with our family. We should adopt a more positive mindset."
Author | Michelle
Editor | Simon
Video | Kabayanmark, Keane