Solidarity and humor in the coronavirus crisis
From friendly gestures or encouragement to helping others in need, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us all how humanity can come together in times of crisis. This is how people around the world are showing solidarity.
With schools and kindergartens closed for weeks, kids can get bored. To keep them amused, thousands of Belgians and Dutch have put cute teddy bears in their windows — it's bear-spotting time! Many bears are registered on interactive maps so parents can plan their family outings along the route that has the most teddy bears.
The most vulnerable
Elderly people are often hit harder by an infection with SARS-CoV-2 than younger people. To protect them, supermarkets in many countries are offering special times for senior citizens, allowing them to shop in relative safety.
Brightening everyday life
Turkey has taken a different tack, imposing a curfew for people older than 65 or chronically ill — for their own protection. In the city of Mersin, 25-year-old Zulkif Cengiz has been playing a few tunes to pass the time for elderly people staying at home. In other countries, people sing in front of nursing homes, where residents are not allowed to have visitors to avoid infection.
Many Italians have been confined to their apartments for weeks. Emergency measures are to remain in place until at least mid-April. But they haven't lost heart. Posters with a colorful rainbow and the slogan: "Andra tutto bene" ("Everything will be fine") are hanging in windows and from balconies across the nation.
'Italy, we are with you'
Solidarity still exists. In Beslan in southwestern Russia, people lit candles (above photo) to show their solidarity with Italy, one of the nations worst-hit by the coronavirus pandemic. In Paraguay, Poland and Bosnia-Herzegovina, buildings were lit in green, white and red. In China, a tricolored bus has taken to the streets whose handholds and seatbacks bear the words "Cheer up, Italy."
Hope on the horizon
Switzerland is also sending a message of solidarity. True to the motto "light is hope," bright messages beam from the Matterhorn, that highly symbolic Swiss mountain. But "#hope" alternates with "#stayathome" — the call to take the pandemic seriously and not go out.
Let's pretend we are on holiday
The pandemic cost Adas Vasiliauskas his regular job. Don't despair, the Lithuanian photographer thought. Instead, he used a drone to take snapshots of how Lithuanians are spending their time at home during the curfew. Looks like fun: sunbathing on the roof, exercising on the balcony, dressing up or dreaming of the next holiday.
Animals suffer, too
Public life has also come to a halt in Bangladesh. For animals that feed on garbage and leftover food, it is a problem when people no longer go out to eat. Volunteers in the capital, Dhaka, have taken to feeding stray dogs. In Germany, the Animal Welfare Association has warned that pigeons in the cities face starvation.
Medical staff in many countries have been working at the absolute limit for weeks. Some Europeans stand at open windows and on balconies in the evening to applaud the doctors and nurses. Pakistanis wave white flags to pay tribute to the medical staff. But there is a more effective way of showing appreciation and that is by staying at home to slow down the pandemic.
DIY face masks
All over the world, volunteers are sewing simple face masks. They may not necessarily protect the wearer from infection, but if tied properly over mouth and nose, they can help to prevent the virus from spreading. The masks these Armenian-Syrian women produce are distributed among the poor in Aleppo.
Fighting infection through art
Helping by doing what you do best definitely applies to the RBS Crew graffiti collective in Senegal. With their works of art on walls in Dakar, they are showing the population how they can stem the spread of the coronavirus. Sneezing into the crook of your arm is one of the important rules for protecting others.
A sense of humor
Reuben Ward sauntered around the US capital, Washington D.C., dressed up as a huge, scary Tyrannosaurus Rex. "It was an entertaining way to distract people a little from the coronavirus and cheer them up," the 29-year-old said. His message: Even if the situation is serious, you need to keep a sense of humor.
In Germany, coronavirus-related humor tends to be linked to food. Check out the "antibody" coronavirus chocolates, cakes shaped like rolls of toilet paper and chocolate Easter bunnies complete with face masks. But it wouldn't be Germany if there wasn't something to complain about: Critics argue that the merchandise is in bad taste.
Toilet paper bonus
Toilet paper is in great demand in many countries. A restaurant in a town in the US state of Minnesota adds a roll of the precious product to every take-out order over $25 (€22). "When the customers get their order, you hear a genuine laugh and that's the best thing right now," the owner told FOX 9. It's also a clever marketing strategy.
Clown or president?
Reactions to the crisis are also satirical. Aira Ocrespo is not the only one to criticize Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro for his lax approach to the pandemic. As the artist sees it, a red clown nose is the only facial protection the president wears against the coronavirus.