A year of COVID-19: British Columbians describe pandemic life outside Canada

While music concerts and nightclubs have reopened, Klassen said she instead prefers to go fishing. (Submitted)
B.C’s Travis Wilkins and his family live in Nepal. (Submitted)B.C’s Travis Wilkins and his family live in Nepal. (Submitted)
Zachary Rogers is a ballet dancer in Russia. (Submitted)Zachary Rogers is a ballet dancer in Russia. (Submitted)
Zachary Rogers at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, last December watching a ballet performance. He said places were slow in the country to close for COVID-19. However, Moscow went into lockdown last spring for several months. (Submitted)Zachary Rogers at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, last December watching a ballet performance. He said places were slow in the country to close for COVID-19. However, Moscow went into lockdown last spring for several months. (Submitted)
Peter Zurba (left) lives in Texas. The state recently removed its mask mandate and businesses are allowed to reopen to 100 per cent capacity. (Submitted)Peter Zurba (left) lives in Texas. The state recently removed its mask mandate and businesses are allowed to reopen to 100 per cent capacity. (Submitted)
Retired Canadian Pacific worker Bill Hughes spends his winters in Thailand. (Submitted)Retired Canadian Pacific worker Bill Hughes spends his winters in Thailand. (Submitted)
Bill Hughes at a temple Thailand. (Submitted)Bill Hughes at a temple Thailand. (Submitted)
Thailand has one of the lowest rates for COVID-19 cases and currently most things are open. This photo is from a New Years Eve concert. (Submitted)Thailand has one of the lowest rates for COVID-19 cases and currently most things are open. This photo is from a New Years Eve concert. (Submitted)
Taylor Klassen has spent the last year living in Australia in the remote Snowy Mountains and painting film sets in Sydney. (Submitted)Taylor Klassen has spent the last year living in Australia in the remote Snowy Mountains and painting film sets in Sydney. (Submitted)
Eight people from B.C.	share what life has been like for the past year living abroad during a pandemic. (Submitted)Eight people from B.C. share what life has been like for the past year living abroad during a pandemic. (Submitted)
Teacher Leslie Takinami lives in Japan. Last summer the government offered 50 per cent discounts for domestic travellers to help the ailing tourism industry. Here, Takinami took part in the program and went on a road trip. (Submitted)Teacher Leslie Takinami lives in Japan. Last summer the government offered 50 per cent discounts for domestic travellers to help the ailing tourism industry. Here, Takinami took part in the program and went on a road trip. (Submitted)
Leslie Takinami works as a teacher in Japan. (Submitted)Leslie Takinami works as a teacher in Japan. (Submitted)
Getting hand sanitizer at a theme part in Japan. (Submitted)Getting hand sanitizer at a theme part in Japan. (Submitted)
Revelstoke’s Deanne Berarducci runs her own charity called Because All Children Matter in Kenya. Its aim is to help kids living on the streets. She said the country has taken a strict stance against the virus. (Submitted)Revelstoke’s Deanne Berarducci runs her own charity called Because All Children Matter in Kenya. Its aim is to help kids living on the streets. She said the country has taken a strict stance against the virus. (Submitted)
Berarducci’s charity helps people, particularly children, living on the streets of Kenya. (Submitted)Berarducci’s charity helps people, particularly children, living on the streets of Kenya. (Submitted)
To stop the spread of COVID-19, Nepal banned vehicles. So, Travis Wilkins, who owns a juice factory in the country, delivered his product by bicycle. (Submitted)To stop the spread of COVID-19, Nepal banned vehicles. So, Travis Wilkins, who owns a juice factory in the country, delivered his product by bicycle. (Submitted)

March 11 marks one year since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic.

The disease is estimated to have killed more than 2.5 million people, of which 22,000 were Canadian.

While COVID-19 has most likely changed life forever in Canada, Black Press Media spoke to British Columbians around the world on what the last year has been like living through a deadly global virus.

READ MORE: World Health Organization declares COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic

Kenya

The day after Deanne Berarducci arrived in Africa last March after a visit to Nepal, Kenya halted all flights entering and leaving the country.

“People here were scared at first,” she said.

Soon all schools, restaurants, bars, food markets and government offices closed. A curfew was put in place and citizens were not permitted outside during the night. Masks have been mandatory since last March.

READ MORE: From the streets of Kenya: Finding a home and a school for a 16 year old boy

Even today, when Berarducci goes into grocery stores, she has her temperature checked twice.

She feels the reason Kenya has taken strict action against COVID-19 is because the country is used to incurable diseases threatening livelihoods, such as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV.

“So, they have a plan in place for things like COVID-19, a plan that I don’t think Western countries have as we have never had to.”

She said Kenyans are not willing to take the risk of going to a bar and spread a disease that has no cure.

“They don’t have the same resources here that western countries do.”

Less than 2,000 people have so far died from COVID-19 in the country.

Zachary Rogers is a ballet dancer in Russia. (Submitted)

Russia

When the pandemic hit the largest country in the world, Zachary Rogers had a feeling Russians would be hesitant to lockdown.

The first COVID-19 case in the country was on Jan. 31; however, the theatre Rogers where worked as a ballet dancer did not close until mid-March.

“By which point the state of things were quite serious here.”

READ MORE: Revelstokian becomes a Russian ballet dancer

Soon the county went into lockdown and people were not allowed to leave their homes, except for work and the grocery store. Russians could only walk their dog within 100 metres of their residences.

Rogers’ live performances resumed last June in Moscow.

“I have really come to value each and every chance I get to perform in front of a live audience after being stuck at home for so long. That time away from the ballet studio and stage really made me realize how much I love what I do and how important it is for me to continue doing it.”

Last August, Russia became the first country in the world to approve a vaccine for COVID-19. Officially, almost 90,000 people have died from the disease in Russia, but experts say the number of deaths could be more than three times higher due to limited data collection.

READ MORE: Russia approves vaccine, Putin hopes to begin mass production

U.S.

Peter Zurba said he is lucky to have a job outside. When COVID-19 hit Texas last March, forcing many businesses to close, Zurba was able to continue working as a landscaper.

“It became a ghost town here.”

Earlier this month, the governor relaxed the state mask mandate and allowed businesses to open to 100 per cent capacity.

“Our hospitalizations and case numbers have plummeted, and the vaccine is being rapidly distributed. It is time!”

So far, 5.7 million vaccines have been administered in the state, which is more than double the amount distributed in Canada.

More than 525,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the U.S., of which 45,000 have been in Texas.

READ MORE: U.S. man credits Revelstoke upbringing for surviving Texas ice storm

Leslie Takinami works as a teacher in Japan. (Submitted)

Japan

When the Diamond Princess cruise ship arrived at the City of Yokohama on Feb. 3, 2020, the global death toll from the mysterious new coronavirus was around 400.

Within days, more than 700 people on board would test positive for the virus and 13 people would die. Due to improper quarantines and testing, it’s thought disembarking passengers likely added to the virus’s spread within the country.

READ MORE: Canadians released from coronavirus-ridden cruise ship in Japan fly home

Japan declared a state of emergency on April 16, forcing teacher Leslie Takinami to work from home.

During the closures, public school teachers would hand deliver and pick up homework from students. The government also launched a national television program to teach subjects such as math for elementary students. In-class learning resumed by May.

To spur travel and help the ailing tourism industry, the government started to offer domestic travelers 50 per cent discounts on transportation, hotels, restaurants, tourist attractions and shopping across the country.

Due to rising COVID-19 cases, the country halted the program in December. More than 8,200 people have died from the disease in Japan.

While Tokyo is still planning to hold the Olympic games this summer, a recent survey found 80 per cent of Japanese people want the games canceled or postponed.

“I don’t want it. It is not a good time to have a lot of people come here.”

Taylor Klassen has spent the last year living in Australia in the remote Snowy Mountains and painting film sets in Sydney. (Submitted)

Australia

Last February, Taylor Klassen arrived in Australia just as the country’s worst fire season ended.

For months previously, more than 15,000 blazes consumed more than 11 million hectares, forcing even Klassen’s partner’s grandma to shelter in her own water tank when the fires neared her homestead in the Snowy Mountains.

READ MORE: Australia to pay ‘whatever it takes’ to fight wildfires

The fires stopped short of the property, where Klassen lived when she first arrived in the country. She did not have cell service, had little internet, used solar panels for power, and the family grew most of its own food.

Klassen said she had little idea how bad COVID-19 was until she got a job in April, painting film sets in Sydney.

“We arrived and there was no canned food, meat or even toilet paper in the shops.”

Compared to B.C., Australia has enforced strict restrictions when cases of COVID-19 emerge, such as locking inter-state borders and forcing people to remain indoors, except for an hour of exercise per day. Parts of the country have gone into multiple lockdowns in the past year, including five million people in Melbourne who were ordered to stay home for 110 days last summer.

“Props to the government for cracking down. The rules here, have really helped.”

Only 900 people have died from COVID-19 in Australia.

Due to fewer cases of COVID-19, at times there have been no restrictions in Australia and little requirements to wear masks. Cafes were crowded, football stadiums were packed with thousands of fans, and the country hosted concerts with more than 6,000 attendees.

Bill Hughes at a temple Thailand. He spends each winter in the country. (Submitted)

Thailand

On Jan. 8, 2020, a traveler tested positive for the virus in Thailand, making it the first case outside China.

The country quickly went into full lockdown and masks became mandatory.

“People were quite scared,” said Bill Hughes.

READ MORE: Out of quarantine: Salmon Arm residents back in Canada compare COVID-19 response

Since then, most places have reopened. However, Hughes said it’s still common to have your temperature checked going into each business.

Hughes came back to Canada between June and November. When he arrived, he was able to travel back to Revelstoke to quarantine. Upon his return in Thailand, he was met at the plane by officials in hazmat suits, given a COVID-19 test and put on a minibus to quarantine at a hotel for 14 days, where he got daily temperature checks and more COVID-19 tests.

“The government here has done an excellent job of protecting people.”

The country has one of the lowest death rates from COVID-19 with only 85 fatalities.

By comparison, it was not until Feb. 21 that Canada made it mandatory for travelers to stay three nights in a hotel upon arrival while waiting on results from a COVID-19 test.

B.C.’s Travis Wilkins and his family live in Nepal. They own a juice factory. (Submitted)

Nepal

As COVID-19 started to spread around the world last March, the people of Nepal became uneasy, said Travis Wilkins.

Since it was clear he was not from Nepal, locals would run away from him when he approached, yelling “COVID! Go home!”

Soon the government ordered a four-month lockdown. If caught outside during non-designated hours, curfew-breakers could be beaten by police, forced to stand still on the road for hours until they learned their lesson or taken to jail.

The orders forced Wilkins’ juice factory to close for months. Even when people were allowed outside, the government banned people from using vehicles to reduce travel. So, Wilkins delivered juice by bicycle.

Today, there are few restrictions and most businesses are open.

“I’m not sure if COVID is done with us, but Nepal is done with COVID.”

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
liam.harrap@revelstokereview.com


 

@pointypeak701
liam.harrap@revelstokereview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirustravel

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Members of the community garden hosted their first seed swap and fundraiser at the Greenwood Mall in Sparwood on Monday. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Sparwood Community Garden hosts first seed swap

Work on the garden at Engelmann Spruce Drive will begin soon

Crews and volunteers responded to a four-hectare wildfire on the lower half of the Aqam community lands near Cranbrook on Friday afternoon. Trevor Crawley photo.
Wildfire season gets early start in the East Kootenay

Fire crews, volunteers respond to two local wildfires, while prescribed burns turn weekend skies smoky

A conceptual image of a multi-family housing development envisioned by Abugov Kaspar Architects to go on a lot in Castle Mountain in Fernie. (Image courtesy of City of Fernie)
City defers zoning decision

A zoning change would permit a development with 15 percent rental tenure residences in Castle Mountain

Rob and Jennifer King run Sasquatch Cyclery out of their garage. (Soranne Floarea/ The Free Press)
‘Hop on it now’: Parts crunch hits cycling

New bikes are hard to get and used bikes are selling at a premium this year

Michel-Natal-Sparwood Heritage Society runs a museum that was established to display the heritage of the "no-longer towns" of Michel and Natal, and the Elk Valley Area. Photo Submitted/Monica Beranek, Artifact Curator
Sparwood Museum requests a leg up to stay open full-time

The museum is volunteer-run, but needs a full-time employee to be able to snag much-needed grants

Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and vacation bookings are being increased in B.C. (B.C. government)
Out-of-region B.C. vacation bookings, RV ferry reservations to be refused

B.C. extends COVID-19 indoor dining, group fitness ban until May 25

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is a independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. to target people ages 40+ in ‘high risk communities’ with AstraZeneca vaccine

A total of 13 neighbourhoods and communities will receive the AstraZeneca vaccine

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Carver Ken Sheen had almost finished work on a large cowboy carving commissioned by the City of Williams Lake to replace the original overlooking the Stampede Grounds when fire broke out Friday, April 18 at his property between Williams Lake and Quesnel. (Pine River Carving Facebook photos)
Cow boss statue destined for Williams Lake Stampede Grounds goes up in flames

Carver Ken Sheen lost the statue, all his tools and his shop in the blaze

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains. (Hansard TV)
B.C. moves to protect employee pay for COVID-19 vaccination

Most won’t need to take time off work, labour minister says

New figures show Canadian housing prices outpacing those in other developed countries. (Black Press Media file photo)
Canadian housing prices fastest rising in the world

Relative to 2000, housing prices have risen by a factor of more than 2.5

Russ Ball (left) and some of the team show off the specimen after they were able to remove it Friday. Photo supplied
80-million-year-old turtle find on B.C. river exciting fossil hunters

Remains of two-foot creature of undetermined species will now make its home at the Royal BC Museum

Most Read