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We are staying at home for another month – March 23

Hello dear friends! If you read my other update from today, about the situation in Austria, then you know the COVID-19 numbers are still increasing faster and faster in Austria.

That is why I am so glad I won’t have to go out, for nearly a month. In the beginning of the Pandemic, I was out my mind from worry about Ralph potentially catching the Virus. Now that I see how well our government is handling this crisis and that patients are not left without their medication, I feel a lot better. We have what we need at home, including my medicine and of course more than enough supplies for the cats. I’m much more at ease, especially because it keeps Ralph safe when I stay at home and avoid people altogether.

There’s no getting bored in our home anyway. Not with the 4 cats and each other, and the internet, which lets us connect to our friends and lots of entertainment.

Every day is a lovely day with our cats

As soon as I open my eyes in the morning, this is usually what I see…

Hero on me, Sonic farther down to the right
Lisa is usually all up in my face, once she realises I woke up

Hero, Lisa and Sonic usually sleep on top of me, or cuddled up on my tummy, my legs, arms, or my side, depending on the way I’m lying. It’s usually these 3 in any order that are all over and around me. Samantha loves to either be curled up next to Ralph’s legs, or she watches the birds from the bedroom window (that’s where Samantha was when I took these photos).

It’s impossible not to smile first thing when I wake up with my little family of Ralph and the cats all around me. No matter how anxious I feel, or how bad my migraine is when I wake up, I still wake up feeling happy thanks to them.

Spring

Spring is definitely here with flowers everywhere and birds who are building their nests again. The temperatures before the weekend were amazing! Almost like summer. Unfortunately, it got really cold again over the weekend.

Especially today, the wind was awfully strong and ice cold. I really hope it will warm up again soon, the cats and us really missed the warm sun.

Despite the cold, Lisa and Hero always enjoy some fresh air and love to watch the birds for a few minutes. Also, Lisa and I have a little game where I throw one of the toy balls out onto the balcony and she will run out to bring it back in every single time! She usually carries her ball to the same spot, there she’ll wait for me to get it and throw it again.

This video has clips from yesterday and today. I could have kept going for much longer too, she just loves it. Here is the link to my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCK1Ls5UurAYojCxqRRveVw

But at long as it’s sunny, the cats are getting their fill of sunshine inside as well. With every day we’re getting closer to summer, the sun will shine into our apartment longer.

Hero fast asleep in the sun
Sonic and Lisa at the bedroom window
Samantha and Lisa on the balcony last week, a day before it got cold again

A small earthquake with the epicentre in Croatia

Yesterday, there was even an earthquake we slept through (at 5:24 UTC). Well, I’m sure the cats noticed, but Ralph and I didn’t. Here in Graz it wasn’t anything serious. The epicentre was in Croatia, a little less than 200km from us, where earthquakes aren’t anything unusual. I’ve experienced a couple of them when I was in Croatia myself as a child.

The purple circle is Graz, where we are. The other markings show the earthquake. More details to this earthquake at: https://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eventpage/us70008dx7/executive

Small earthquakes with the epicentre within Austria are not unusual either, as the African plate meets with the Eurasian plate in the Alps. Especially our region is rather active for these little earthquakes.

Since it’s almost midnight again, I will go to bed in a bit. I’ll hopefully feel more rested soon, as the day seems way to short when I need more sleep than normal.

I keep thinking of everyone, hoping that you’re all safe and well, and have everything you need.

Sending love from Ralph, the cats and myself!

Everything · Pictures · Ralph and I · The Cats

Just letting you know we’re fine! New update post coming tomorrow.

Hello my dear friends! I hope all of you are well and safe.

Lisa preventing me from using my laptop during the day ;-)

I’m sorry I didn’t reply to all the comments yet. I have been extremely tired every day this week, that I didn’t get to do much aside from the normal daily tasks of every day life. Ralph thinks it must be the anxiety I’ve had for the last 3 weeks, where I felt absolutely stressed out, worried and upset.

But I am much better now, because everything is going to be fine with my medication and I will also be able to stay at home for the next 4 weeks. Which will keep Ralph safe.

I’ll have another update post up tomorrow. Lots to talk about, lots of news and lots of cat pictures and just sharing how our life is going right now.

For now, I will go to bed. Can’t wait to get back to reading everyone’s blogs, writing my own post and replying to your comments in the morning. Let’s hope I will feel more awake then.

As always, please take good care of each other and yourselves! Stay healthy and at home if you can.

Big hugs & purrs!

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Austria shuts down anything that is not important and people have to mostly stay home – Corona Pandemic Update March 15

Things continue to move faster than I can keep up with. Measures and restrictions that were planned on Friday, kept changing throughout the weekend, because the infection rate keeps going up faster and faster.

As of 3pm this afternoon, we have 860 confirmed Coronavirus Infections. In our state of Styria, they doubled over the weekend. We have 111 here.

Restaurants and cafés were supposed to stay open until 3pm starting Monday, so that people would be able to get lunch there. But since the number of new Coronavirus Patients is multiplying at increasing speed, with 100s more every day over the weekend, the government decided to have all restaurants, cafés, pubs etc close completely. But not just them, all stores are staying closed, except for supermarkets, pet supply stores, pharmacies and gas stations.

Basically, anything that is not needed for daily life, like food for humans and pets, and medications is being closed down. Government offices, that are not needed, will shut down for the public, but they will continue to work behind closed doors, and things can be worked out through phone, email, fax and letterboxes.

The military reserve is being called up

Although I don’t know what they’re going to be doing yet. But I think they will help to ensure the protection of supermarkets, pharmacies and help to keep the peace in the city.

Only 3 reasons to leave the house (enforced)

The government said that there are now only 3 reasons to leave our homes:

  • To get anything that is needed for life, like groceries, medication, pet food. Of course to go to the doctor for medication and treatment that can’t be postponed.
  • To go to work, but this means jobs that are needed to keep the country running. Doctors, Nurses, Firefighters, Police, Military, people working in jobs that are important for the infrastructure (power, gas, water, public transport, delivery of goods, parcels and mail, jobs in the communications industry like phone and internet etc). Anyone that can work from home, has to work from home.
  • The 3rd reasons to go out is to help others. For example, to help disabled or elderly and supply them with food and medications, so that they don’t have to go out to the store, doctor or pharmacy themselves.

This will be enforced by police. So when I go out to the pharmacy as always, I will have the copy of my current prescription with me, as well as the receipt that shows that I paid for it, just because it proves which pharmacy I’m going to.

There are high fines if groups of people are found to hang out outside and walk about for no good reason. People are supposed to go out by themselves for important things.

No going for runs, no going for walks, no hanging around outside, except to go straight from A to B. People are allowed to walk their dogs though.

Parks and playgrounds are closed, as well as anything else that isn’t necessary.

At first, people were asked to adhere to it on their own. But as I expected, there were still way too many people who are not taking it seriously. Especially in Vienna, people went out to parks in large numbers, sitting together in groups, walking in groups and hanging around in groups. Even parents went to the playgrounds with their kids. Basically these people were doing everything they were begged not to do.

Many of the groups that were hanging around in parks and the city for no reason were the usual troublemakers.

In Graz, the 2nd largest city of Austria (Vienna is Nr. 1), the streets were pretty much empty. But there were people who ignored the pleas from the government to stay home, just not as many as in Vienna. Most groups were hanging around in the bad areas of Graz, like always.

So within just a day, it became clear that the lock-down and the restrictions would have to be enforced.

For now, people walking alone will not be stopped or asked where they are going, only groups. But depending on how people behave, this might change. I’m expecting many more restrictions and the lock-down of cities and areas, to stop the movement of people and stop the spread of the Virus.

Since it can take up to two weeks for people to actually become ill from the Virus, and many will still have become infected before the restrictions, and they’ll also infect their families most likely, the peak of the outbreak will most likely be in about 3 weeks. I’m no expert and have no idea, but maybe that’s about how it will be.

One thing is for sure, the drastic measures are now going to stop more people from becoming infected. So hopefully, after 3 weeks, we will see the effect of it in decreasing numbers of new confirmed cases, while the number of people who recovered will have increased.

More news: Germany is closing it’s borders with Austria

Germany will partially close its borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Luxembourg and Denmark as it steps up efforts to stem the spread of the new coronavirus.

What Saturday night looked like from the main square webcam

The main square in Graz, which is normally a very busy place on a Saturday evening, was very empty, except for a few people. The main square is usually always busy, especially during the weekend, since it’s right next to an area with a lot of pubs and clubs. But at 7:41pm, only a few people were out that evening. Nothing would have been open anyway.

How we’re doing

Neither Ralph, nor I are surprised by the measures the Austrian government is taking. Seeing how things are going, it was to be expected. I am actually glad that they’re putting these restrictions in place, because then hopefully, the outbreak can be stopped.

I feel very tense and anxious, just like countless others, but I hope we can get through this alright.

Our street was again extremely quiet. The building itself is quiet as well, you hardly hear anything. Only for our sweet cats the world is like always, at least for the most part. I’m certain they can sense how tense I feel.

It’s rather cold, unfortunately, but the sun was shining. So the babies were able to enjoy the sun for a little on the balcony. Samantha enjoyed the sun at the window and Sonic on the bed.

Lisa and Hero
Samantha at the bedroom window

My anxiety treatment

That’s what the bed is like every day and every night. I’m able to cuddle myself between all the cats, and then I feel a whole lot more calm. Ralph usually goes to sleep later than myself, but he is able to get in as well. Sonic, Hero and Lisa usually pile up around me and on me, while Samantha cuddles up to Ralph’s legs. Once everyone is in bed, I feel relaxed enough to sleep well for a few hours.

It’s now 11:40pm, and I’ll go to bed after publishing this post.

I’m sure tomorrow will bring many changes again, as well as sadly another huge increase in confirmed cases. But maybe soon, there will be good news again. Until then, stay safe, stay home if you can and keep in touch. I’m thinking about everyone, and send out lots of love and hugs.

Love, Natascha & the cats 💕

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The mood has completely changed – Corona Update March 13

While people and daily life still seemed very normal at the beginning of this week, this has now changed, almost overnight.

Yesterday, everything started changing throughout the day. The Coronavirus Infection rate was rising at an unbelievable speed, and it’s still accelerating.

While we only had about 5 cases about two weeks ago, there were a 100 cases on March 8. Two and a half days later we reached 200. Yesterday in the morning, we had about 300, by the evening we had 361. This morning, we had over 400 and by now, 3pm on March 13, the case count has already reached 504.

The separate case counts for each of Austria’s states is as follows:

Lower Austria (63), Vienna (82), Styria, which is our state (52), Tyrol (167), Upper Austria (84), Salzburg (23 – davon 3 Personen nicht in Salzburg aufhältig), Burgenland (7), Vorarlberg (22) und Carinthia (4).

Yesterday, Styria had 28 and the day before that 18, and the day before that around 11.

While more new measures were planned by our government yesterday, rumours started spreading.

It started yesterday morning. Rumours that were saying that absolutely everything, including supermarkets, pharmacies and all government offices (including social welfare, national health, health department etc) will close down next week. I knew right away it wasn’t true and I tried my best to keep telling people it’s not true.

The government was simply working out the next important steps to help contain the outbreak, and the first couple of these measures were presented in a press conference yesterday in the afternoon. In that press conference, the government also said that more measures are being planned and to be announced the next day (today). At the same time, they were also stressing that these rumours floating around are false.

Supermarkets, pharmacies, banks, government offices, post/mail and basically everything that is important for the country, daily life, the infrastructure and it’s people will remain open no matter what. They said that potential closures and restrictions will only be implemented on branches and services that people can easily live without for a few weeks. They also again begged people to stay home as much as possible if they can in their free time or if they’re retired or at home for other reasons anyway. For other companies, they said that companies should try to have as many people as possible work from their home.

The point is basically to try to stop as much unnecessary movement of people as possible for a while.

Yesterday, a pharmacy in the city was already limiting the amount of people who were able to enter at the same time. Only 3 people were allowed in the pharmacy at once.

Today, that same pharmacy was serving people only through the hatch in the door.

Then this morning, more rumours were spreading which caused widespread panic buying

Early this morning, some more rumours were floating around and spreading like wildfire. Some rumours were still the same and others were new. Today the rumours said that absolutely all stores, pharmacies, gas stations and banks will close down by midday today and that a curfew will be implemented for the nighttime starting Monday.

These rumours, paired with the shocking rise in coronavirus infections over the last 24 hours, caused people to actually panic today.

People started panic buying in such numbers, that there were massively long lines in front of the supermarkets. It kept getting progressively worse all day. The shelves are now empty pretty much. Even shortly after the supermarkets had opened for the day, shelves were emptied within a short time. Some stores were hit worse than others, depending on their location.

Long lines of people waiting to get into one of the larger grocery stores in a mall not far away from us. It was like that at most supermarkets. (Source: KronenZeitung krone.at/2116507)

I heard from my friend, who lives just a block away from us, that she saw people ripping food out of each others hands at the store. Then we heard that one Aldi (called Hofer in Austria), located in a rather bad area, had been pretty much wrecked by people ripping open packages and simply being rowdy and selfish.

Mostly it was long long lines in front of grocery stores. People were running into banks and building lines in front of ATMs. In turn, many ATMs were out of order by the early afternoon.

What also did not help was that nothing was being done about people taking way too much at once for themselves in the grocery stores (for example one person/family buying up all the milk).

The media and government kept repeating on TV, radio and on the internet, that the supermarkets will not close and that the supply of goods will keep going. Yet, people were panic buying all day.

My Dad said that all of the bread was gone within a short time after the stores opened in the morning. I hope the panic buying will calm down again over the course of next week, when people see that the supermarkets will not close down and that they also continue to be restocked regularly. , starting yesterday morning and still, new false rumours are spreading. There were rumours that everything will be closed down, and a curfew will be implemented. None of it is true though.

The actual new measures that were announced by the government today

  • All schools, including high schools, elementary schools and kindergartens, as well as universities and any education facilities will close by Wednesday. Universities and higher education will be closed on Monday already. But students can stay home already if they can.
  • Restaurants, pubs, cafés etc, have to close by 3pm in the afternoon. So nightclubs and anything else that would be open all night, will stay closed completely. They want to avoid all those many people coming together every night, especially during the weekends, while going out.
  • All sports events are cancelled
  • Some areas in Tyrol, which is especially badly hit by the outbreak in Austria, will be put under quarantine.
  • Supermarkets, banks, pet supply stores, pharmacies, tobacconists, public transport, post and mail services and other essential parts of society, like all facilities and companies that are important for all the infrastructure in Austria (including Telephone and Internet), will not be closed at any point
  • Public transport: Trams and Busses will automatically open the doors for entry and exit at every stop, so people won’t have to use the buttons to open them. Only the trams and busses will be used that have a separate cabin for the drivers to protect them
  • People are asked to stay home, unless it is absolutely necessary and can’t be avoided. People should gather with friends and family for now and instead use other means (internet, phone) to stay in contact.

Some news regarding my medication supply

I had put in a request to get my pain medication supply home with me for the next 3 1/2 weeks, so that I would not have to go out anymore at all within that time, to protect Ralph more.

Though I got a call this morning from my doctors office, informing me that the health department has said, that nobody is getting their medicine home for a longer period of time, even if they have plenty of their time allowance left, which I did. No exceptions. I’m sure the reason for that is that this measure stops people from moving and leaving the city and their areas. Since everyone is tied to their medicine, by having to go to the pharmacy all the time, nobody can leave, which stops even more movement from and to different places.

On the other hand, I also got some reassuring news. Apparently, my pharmacy will not close down, even if it gets worse. The way it will work is that all customers are basically outside the pharmacy, while the staff is behind the door, which has a little hatch, through which everyone is being served. Those hatches exist for the night shifts, where people are being served through those hatches as well.

Either way, the government does not seem to implement things in a chaotic manner. Therefore, no matter what, if the health department has to think of something else to make sure that all patients continue to receive their medications, then they most likely will. Everything now is being implemented as things are happening. I’m feeling better regarding that and not as worried as I had been before.

Our plan for the next month (or beyond if it’s neccessary)

Ralph and I will stay home for the next weeks, or for how long it’s going to be necessary. Our supplies last for about two months, including the supplies for the cats. But we are still able to order things online as well for now, which I am doing too.

That means I will only go out to the pharmacy, on my bicycle, on a street where I don’t really come across many people and where I am not close to other people anyway. Also, the pharmacy is only 4 minutes from us if I use my bicycle. Additionally, the pharmacy itself is quite spacey and you don’t really come too close to people in there, especially now, as people are avoiding the pharmacies as much as possible, which is good for me.

The risk is still not extremely high that I could catch the virus while in the pharmacy, or outside of it. I also try to keep as much distance between me and anyone, and I keep disinfecting my hands constantly. When I get home, I take off my shoes outside the apartment and then I walk straight in to wash myself, before I put my clothes away and wash myself again.

No matter how crazy this might sound, I rather do everything I possibly can to lower the risk to Ralph and myself.

It’s now eerily quiet and empty in the streets

I was out at about 4pm, which is normally very busy on Friday. But even the busiest street was very empty. Hardly any cars. Hardly any people. And now at night, nobody is out. It’s totally quiet and empty in the street as far as I can see.

One supermarket I passed by was dark for some reason. Looked like they had to close down for some reason. I also saw people with loads of boxes of groceries, and big bags full of the same, entering their apartment buildings, or carrying the shopping home. I also saw long lines in front of Tobacconists in the city centre. Our area wasn’t like that thankfully.

It was already very weird and quiet everywhere. Even our building is quiet. Normally you would hear people getting ready to go out on a Friday night, but there is no one going now. There is no music being heard from anywhere, no friends coming over. People are just in their homes, possibly a bit in a state of shock.

I would not be surprised if some rather bad people will try to use the emptiness of city streets for bad things. We are thankfully in a safe area anyway, but I still closed down the shutters in front of our street facing window. I’m always rather safe.

There will be more restrictions coming, but I prefer that to not doing anything. The more people are stopped from moving, the faster the numbers will stop climbing, while the number of people who have recovered, will increase. Everyone who can needs to stay where they are, all over Europe. Just for a while, so that this nightmare can come to an end sooner, rather than later.

Lets please get through this ok and then celebrate once it’s over.

Be careful and keep in touch. I’ll keep you all updated anyway. Ralph, the cats and I are still perfectly fine <3 I’m now off to bed, as it’s way past midnight and I’m tired.

Love from us and the cats to all of you!

Good night from Sonic and Lisa in our fluffy comfy bed
Everything · Pictures · Ralph and I · Society and News · The Cats

Life during the Corona Pandemic – March 11 Update

It’s now officially a Pandemic. But that was apparent for a while now anyway.

I really wasn’t sure if I should write regular updates about how things are going here in Austria and in general, since I didn’t want to add to the constant Corona Presence in every headline, posting and new article. As people are hearing about nothing else anymore almost.

But then I thought it’s going to be a record of our life, that I can look back on years later, and in this way I can let everyone know how we’re doing and that we’re ok.

Case update for Austria, March 11, 2020 at 3pm

246 cases so far in all of Austria.
Cases for each state: Lower Austria (45), Vienna (50), Styria, our state (25), Tyrol (57), Upper Austria (35), Salzburg (14), Burgenland (4), Vorarlberg (13) and Carinthia (3).

New temporary emergency laws and recommendations during the Corona Pandemic in Austria

  • Anything with gatherings of more than 100 people indoors (which also includes any staff) is temporarily forbidden.
  • Outdoor gatherings with more than 500 people, including staff, is temporarily forbidden
  • Universities and any schools for higher education are being closed
  • No entry into Austria from Italy, except with an up to date document that proves the person is not infected with the Coronavirus
  • Austrian citizens still in the now locked down Italy will be brought home by the government, but they have to stay in quarantine for two weeks in Austria
  • People should avoid private contacts and gatherings and stay home as much as possible
  • Older people and people with compromised immune system should not receive visitors if it can be avoided

Life seems as it always is, in the city and of course at home

While case counts are multiplying extremely fast now, and there is panic and fear among people in many countries, it’s very calm and normal here in Graz and Austria in general. Austrian people usually don’t panic quickly. It has to get really bad before there would be widespread panic.

The late afternoon sun, seen from the balcony with the cat safety net

Today was a wonderfully warm and sunny spring day, with temperatures over 20°C / 68°F. As I went out this this afternoon around 4pm, people were out in the usual numbers. The large park in our neighbourhood was filled with people sitting on the grass and taking walks, enjoying the warm sun. The outside seating area of every Cafe I saw in the city was quite full and the streets were just as busy as always around that time.

Just like last year, the spring flowers are everywhere, the birds are building their nests in the garden, the neighbourhood kitties are walking around in the garden. Hero and Lisa saw two of the neighbourhood kitties yesterday and got all excited. Unfortunately it was past sunset and too dark to take pictures of them.

It was a mostly sunny afternoon yesterday, and you can feel that the sun is getting warmer and warmer now, as the northern hemisphere is getting closer to the summer. Especially this year, we can hardly wait.

The kitties are crowding in every sun puddle, especially on the bed.

Hero, Lisa and Sonic. Lisa is giving Sonic a friendly nose greeting and a few licks on his head.
Lovely warm sun! Samantha is hardly visible, but she is in the top left area of the picture, in the shadow, lying on a white mat under the side table. The sun had been there a while ago, but was now gone.
So Samantha decided she would try to get into the sun puddle on the bed.

Our life is still normal in Graz

While the Corona cases are multiplying every day, things are still as always pretty much. Thankfully, we do not have a huge number of cases in our state and city yet. 18 for the whole of Styria, our state. They aren’t mentioning where those cases are, or if they’re spread out over the state or concentrated in an area, I don’t know why. But in the way it began and the few cases they mentioned, the cases were in the east of our state, and just one in our city of Graz. But it was about 10 days ago when they mentioned that patient from Graz, so I’m sure there are more by now, and probably people who were in contact with that person.

Thankfully, my doctors office, the pharmacy and the health department are all working as usual. I haven’t heard of any more closed doctors offices for Austria and haven’t heard of any pharmacy or other larger health care provider closing down. And there is no atmosphere of panic among people. I hope it’s going to stay that way.

I can still go out without worry as of now, but I do take all the precautions I can possibly take. I keep away from people and I’m always using my bicycle to go where I need to go even more.

There are just as many people around as always, from what I can tell. People are still sitting in Cafe’s, stroll through the city and stores, people are still doing they’re daily runs along the Mur and the parks, and you don’t really see any panic buying going on in the stores. But the sanitizers, disinfectants, and tinned food are still sold out for the most part, although they’re being restocked.

We still have enough toilet paper in stores.

Even in the smaller stores, like the one I took this photo in, there is no toilet paper missing.

There was more toilet paper stored at the top of the shelf and even more around the corner.

Plans for next week

Since the risk to become ill myself is still very low for Graz, especially with the precautions I take, I still go out to pick up a few necessities, but I go during times when hardly anyone else goes shopping. Though seeing how fast the cases multiply, I will stop any shopping in stores by next week possibly.

Also, I will try to talk to my, doctor on Monday, to use all my vacation allowance and pick up all my months medication at once to take home with me. Not only would I not have to keep worrying to suddenly stand in front of closed doors at my pharmacy, if they have to shut down because of a case, and I won’t have to keep going out so much, and put Ralph at risk with it.

My immune system is really good and strong, I never become sick, my health problems are pain related, but organically I’m perfectly fine. Though since everyone above the age of 60 is at a higher risk to develop severe problems if infected with the Virus, I really don’t want to risk anything, even if the chances to catch it, as of right now in our area, are rather low.

That’s why I don’t like people getting dismissed with their worries, as it keeps happening at the moment. People here are so used to nothing bad ever happening, that they can’t seem to grasp the possibility that it could be different this time.

I much rather take precautions as much as possible and not need it, than risk the health of my most beloved husband and the well-being of our little family.

Lets hope I’ll be able to get this done, so I can stay home for the next 4 weeks. Of course it might not be over by then, but it might start to get better by then. Also, it might be foreseeable in which direction the pandemic is going by then.

Please stay safe my friends, especially in all those areas with a high number of cases. Also be careful, as people are unpredictable when panicked. Stay home as much as you can, until this “storm” has passed.

Lots of love from us all <3