Annie Akkam
Just like WhatsApp moms are now COVID-19 experts because of corona chain texts, I consider myself an “honorary virologist”

It’s been almost a year since I’ve been working as a journalist at the PR  department of the Ministry of Health, and my daily routine now is a lot more different than it used to be. Working from 9-6 is something we now yearn. The flow of information regarding coronavirus is endless, which has led to a lot of misinformation and fake news (I’m looking at you, whoever started the 5G mobile network conspiracy) regarding the virus. Just like WhatsApp moms are now COVID-19 experts because of corona chain texts, I consider myself an “honorary virologist” thanks to talking to doctors, studying articles from reliable sources, and watching videos that offer visual guidelines on how to protect yourself (you know, like everyone else).

Needless to say, the most important task of the day is publishing daily COVID-19 statistics. Once that’s done, we each have our daily tasks to complete. My favorite part of the day is lunchtime. Since restaurants, cafes and food courts are closed, we have started bringing food from home. This means everyone gets to try my mom’s food and we all know that it’s the best. Since the beginning of the lockdown, my mother decided to become our department’s volunteer and has been cooking for us because she’s clearly bored to death at home. One of my coworkers doesn’t like onions, but she doesn’t know she’s been eating them this whole time (before I’m accused of anything, she’s not allergic to them and onions are good for you). I’ve also had the chance to try my coworker’s cooking and as a person who absolutely hates beets, they’ve successfully converted me into a beet lover. Lockdown changes you big time. 

Having a good relationship with your coworkers during times like these is very important. I spend more time with them than I do with my family. We have the mom of the department, the harsik (the bride), the pofig (the untroubled) and the jahel (the young). We spend the rest of the day working on new tasks; there’s always something to do. We entertain each other by listening to music, showing each other memes, sending ridiculous clickbait articles about COVID-19 and conspiracy theories regarding the pandemic. Since gyms are closed and most of our work is done in front of a computer, we also try to maintain physical activity so we don’t end up sitting down all day.  

When I finally go home in hopes of getting rest, I am bombarded with questions from my family, relatives, neighbors and sometimes strangers on the internet. I kindly remind them that I do not work for the Infocenter, but for the Ministry of Health, hoping they get the message, but eh, what can you do. I do my best to help or guide them in the right direction. Once I’m done having a press conference at home, I finally get to rest. If I’m not too tired, I read books or work out for 20 minutes, but what usually happens is I decide to take a nap and end up waking up the next day. And the next day: repeat.

Working during lockdown can be overwhelming. We all miss going out and seeing our friends, but we should respect the rules of lockdown. Seeing people work day and night and being unable to go home to take care of patients, and then seeing people ignoring the lockdown and continuously looking for loopholes to avoid getting fined simply saddens me. I understand that staying at home could be difficult, but we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be selfish, because people are literally risking their lives at the frontline so we don’t get infected. Protect yourselves and your surroundings: stay home, save lives.

Annie Akkam
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