What the pandemic’s new normal looks like around the world

Marcia, who in October moved from the US state of Indiana to Bonn, Germany, has watched a vicious new viral wave overtake her adopted country. “I went from a shelter-in-place environment … to a near two-month reprieve here of open dining in restaurants, evening drinks on bar terraces overlooking the Rhine, and entries into all manner of stores and services, needing only a squirt of hand sanitizer and a cloth mask,” she wrote.

Now Marcia is playing “an anxious game to try and beat the odds of catching a mutated version of the virus before receiving the vaccine.” But the cherry blossoms and glorious sunsets of Bonn’s old city are reasons for optimism. “Hope is blooming, too. I can feel it,” she says.

A reader in Nigeria suggests that many of his compatriots are still not taking the threat of Covid-19 seriously, with people more concerned about recent terrorist activity than the virus. “The majority of Nigerian populace still believe Covid 19 is a scam!” Joshua writes.

In England, Elise finds the fact that she’s fully vaccinated “semi-reassuring” — but is coming to terms with the fact that she still may not be able to visit her elder daughter this year in Canada, where the virus is spiking. “I really miss cooking for and eating with friends, probably more than anything else,” says Elise, who is wondering whether to brave her newly reopened gym.

“The world has become much, much smaller, and, perhaps as a result, both meaner and more generous. It’s been an interesting time, and one we all could have done without, I believe.”

Virginia, in North Carolina, is relying on books, radio and the in-depth documentaries of Ken Burns to get her through the pandemic. She also has a new British friend, with whom she talks by email and phone. “Her wit and good humor has been great in keeping my spirits up and having someone to talk with since my blended family (half Dem, half Republican) avoids politics,” Virginia writes.

You have to go a long way from America to escape the virus, and the splendid isolation of the Pacific Ocean island republic of Kiribati has come up trumps. But Meanwhile reader Kuureta reports that the pandemic has caused shortages of goods and foods like construction materials and packed chicken, though revived international shipping lines are beginning to fill the shelves again.

Kuureta is thinking of everyone whose life has been severely disrupted by the pandemic. “Sorry, there is no Covid-19 in Kiribati. We are lucky enough and thanks be to God for that. Prayer for all the countries affected by the coronavirus. “

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