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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 💕

Everything · Pictures · Ralph and I · Society and News

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 ❤ 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 ❤

Everything · Pictures · Places · Ralph and I · Society and News · The Cats

The Coronavirus and how it affects us

I’m sure most people are sick of hearing about that Virus all the time constantly, but I wanted to let you all know about our current situation and about what I know about everything so far. I thought that some of you might want to know and even feel worried.

I’ve been writing on this post since Monday, but due to constant changes in information and situations, I kept updating my draft, trying to write with the little time I had during the week. This is going to be a really long text post.

You can look at a live map, showing all confirmed cases for every place in the world. You can zoom in and click on the red dots, which will tell you the cumulative case count, the deaths, the cases who recovered and currently active cases. Though not every country has the dots as detailed as in China or the US, where every affected area gets its own dot. For most other European countries, there is just one dot that represents all cases in that country.
arcgis.com – Map created by the Johns Hopkins University

Although by now, they can’t keep up with updating the count for every place constantly, so the case count can be behind. Also, not all countries have recovered patients listed yet. Austria, for example, has 2 patients that have recovered and are free of the Virus, but they’re not listed in the dot for Austria.

Italy, one of our southern neighbour countries, is one of the worst affected countries

Italy was Nr 3, after China (Nr 1) and South Korea (Nr 2), of the worst affected countries. But now that Iran’s outbreak is growing massively, it moved to the 3rd place and Italy is now the 4th worst affected country. Iran has 4747 cases and Italy 4636 cases according to today’s case count on the live map from the Johns Hopkins University. But like I mentioned, the count is most likely behind.

The spread of the virus in Italy started when 2 Tourists from China, were diagnosed and confirmed on January 28, 2020 in Rome. By February 20, 2020 Italy had become one of the worst affected countries after China. At that time, Austria had no cases and many other European countries had none yet either. But by February 25, 2020, we started getting the first cases with people arriving from Italy. (More info in this Wikipedia article)

The first cases in Austria

February 25, 2020
Innsbruck, Tyrol, 2 Cases

Austria had it’s first confirmed cases in Innsbruck, Tyrol, the state that directly borders Italy. 2 People, a young Italian couple, who came from one of the worst affected areas in Italy.

February 27, 2020
Vienna, 2 Cases

A married couple in their 70s, were confirmed to be infected with the Coronavirus, after they came home from their vacation in Northern Italy.

February 28, 2020
Vienna, 1 Case

The son of the older couple from Vienna, was confirmed to be infected with the Virus as well.

February 29, 2020 –
Korneuburg, Lower Austria, 2 Cases

A man and woman in their 50s, from Lower Austria (the state around Vienna) who also came back from northern Italy, were confirmed to be infected with the Virus.

Eastern Styria (Our state), 1 Case
A 50 year old woman, who also came back from northern Italy, was confirmed to have the Virus. She’s now being treated in a hospital in our city, Graz.

Salzburg, Upper Austria, 1 Case
A 36 year old woman, who came back from Northern Italy as well, has been confirmed to have the Virus.

March 1, 2020
Vienna, 4 Cases

  • A German couple coming to Vienna, after visiting a carnival event in Germany.
  • A woman from Vienna, who came back from Italy, was confirmed to have the Virus.
  • Another man was confirmed to have the virus, but I did not have any information as to where he came from, or any other information.

March 2, 2020 –
Salzburg, Upper Austria, 1 Case

1 case confirmed in Salzburg. No other details are known to the public yet.

Vienna, 1 Case
1 case confirmed in Vienna. No other details are known to the public yet.

March 3, 2020 –
Salzburg, Upper Austria, 1 Case

1 case confirmed in Salzburg. No other details are known to the public yet

Graz, Styria, 1 Case
1 case confirmed in Graz. He knew and had contact with the 50 year old woman from eastern Styria and got infected through her.

In the evening of March 3, we had 18 confirmed cases in Austria.

On March 5, 2020, the case count went up to 29. There are no more details mentioned for any of the new cases. Only the state or the city is mentioned anymore. But by now the number has gone up again most likely.

On March 6, 2020, Austria has 55 confirmed cases: Vienna (23), Lower Austria (15), our state Styria (5), Salzburg (5), Tyrol (4), Vorarlberg (1), Upper Austria (1) and Carinthia (1). In all 4000 people have been tested for the Virus.

This morning, March 7, 2020, Austria has 74 confirmed cases: Vienna (23), Lower Austria (23), Tyrol (7), our state Styria (6), Salzburg (5), Upper Austria (4), Burgenland (4), Vorarlberg (1) and Carinthia (1).

In all 4308 people have been tested for the Virus in Austria as of today.

Many of the new cases are people who were already in Quarantine, because they were friends, family and had in some way contact with one of the earlier confirmed cases. Other’s are people coming from other countries.

I’m certain the number is going to go up quite steeply for a while.

First 2 patients are healthy again

On the other hand, the first two patients that came in from Italy and then became ill in Innsbruck, Tyrol have now officially recovered. They’ve been kept in the hospital until the repeated tests showed that they were free of the Virus. Even after someone is already feeling fine again, the Virus can still be detected in the tests.

Most of the people who have been infected, are not getting severely ill thankfully. They feel better within about 10 days.

Patients that recovered from the Virus are immune against becoming sick from it again, at least for a few years. They don’t really know yet how many years, as it can also vary between people, but with other Corona-viruses people still had antibodies and therefore immunity against it up to 5 years later, others up to 3 years. But even if it’s only a year, it would be enough to ensure that the Virus will at some point have run its course and the infection rate will go down, and the Virus will, for the most part, die out.

The warmer temperatures coming with spring will help to slow down the spread of the Virus. Apparently, the Virus does not like warm temperatures when it’s outside of a body. The warmer it is, the sooner the Virus dies on surfaces. The sun will also fry it on outside surfaces.

There will be a vaccine against it

They already found a probable vaccine against it and it’s already being trialed on the first patients in the US, who volunteered to be part of the trial. Like back when Ebola was sprading in Africa, they sped up the bureaucracy and approval process. A few weeks ago they said they will be ready to start the trial in April, but apparently a vaccine is already being trialed.

They are also pretty good at isolating any new strains of the Virus quickly, as it mutates throughout the outbreak. That’s what those Viruses do unfortunately, which is why there are sometimes more than one Flu vaccine for a year. But once they have a vaccine for one strain, they are able to create more vaccines for other strains more easily.

At least that is why I found out so far.

No evidence throughout the whole outbreak that cats and dogs are able to contract the Virus!

One of my first massive worries were the cats. All cats and dogs. Our furkids. But thankfully, the ECDC and many other health organisations have found no evidence that pets can become ill or even spread the Virus. During the whole outbreak, there has been no sign of it. Most Viruses mutate to fit only cells of a certain animal family or only humans. They have the right fittings basically, to fit just the right receptors in bodies. And if it’s human cells that it has fittings for, then it will not affect a cat or dog. These fittings are made to exactly fit the receptors of certain cells, where they attach and invade. If such a Virus enters a cat, it simply can’t invade through any of their cells, since the receptors aren’t fitting together.

Now they started testing pets of Corona Patients in China and they have detected the Virus in some of the pets, who are then put in an Vet Clinic for Quarantine. But it seems the pets don’t become ill themselves. So unless the Virus mutates to be able to infect the cells of dogs, cats and other animals, the animals won’t become ill. But I guess they are worried that pets can spread the Virus.

Since it seems that cats and dogs won’t become sick themselves is a huge relief. Because I was so worried that Samantha and Sonic especially, would not be able to survive an infection, due to their age. And with Lisa and Hero, I was not sure if they are too young to survive it, or if they would be strong enough by now. But that worry is now off the table.

What I’m trying to protect us

Ralph won’t go out for as long as that outbreak is growing. I do everything I can to not bring any Viruses home, including the common flu that is also going around. I’ve been doing many of the things listed all the time already anyway.

  • I carry hand sanitizer with me when I go out and disinfect my hands after I touched doors and door handles outside, after I touched shopping carts, any time basically after I touched anything that other people touch.
  • I take off my shoes before I step into our apartment and then carry the shoes in and put them in the shoe storage
  • Then I go straight in to wash my hands and then I wash my hands again after I took off my winter coat
  • I was already used to not touching my face when I’m outside and generally not touching it much to avoid skin problems
  • I keep a distance to people as much as possible and I’m not using public transport. I generally always ride my bicycle everywhere, even in the rain, but at the moment I would not get onto a bus, tram or train
  • At the moment, I only go out when it can’t be avoided, like to pick up medication or prescriptions from my doctor, and I will probably still go to a few stores to buy some necessities for us and the cats, at least as long as it’s as normal as it is now. Should we be really unlucky and it gets bad, I’ll only go out for medical reasons.

People here already started small scale panic buying

Last Saturday, I went to the nearby grocery store, a rather large store. Ralph and I had planned for us to get some shopping done over the next days, to stock up for a while, so that we don’t have to go into the stores again for some time. Mostly because of the flu going around rather quite badly.

First I headed off to get powdered milk and long lasting UHT Milk. Normally that big store has a big stock of it all the time. This time though, it was ALL gone. All of it. I saw the last of the UHT milk being carried off by a few blokes who belonged together. They had 3 full shopping carts, filled to the top with nothing but UHT milk.

Even the coffee creamer powders were gone, as well as the condensed milk.

The tinned food I had planned on buying was gone as well. Just like noodles and rice. Otherwise most of the stock was still there like always. It was just the stuff that can be stocked for a while that was gone. Oh and hand sanitizers and disinfectant cleaning products were decimated pretty bad too. There are also a bunch of random empty shelves that don’t really make sense. Like just one type of produce that’s been bought up by somebody. At least in the last few days, this has been the case for all the stores I’ve been to.

I could hardly believe it. Only when I read the online newspapers for Austria, did I find out that before the weekend, some officials had recommended that people stock up on food, water, sanitising products and other necessities, to last them for about two weeks. So that was most likely the reason behind that.

Now it seems all sorts of sanitizers and disinfection products are absolutely sold out everywhere here. In all the stores I’ve been to, these things are completely gone. But, thankfully, this Virus can be killed on surfaces and on the skin rather easily. Alcohol with a high percentage should be just as good. I do have disinfection products at home, but I’m out of hand sanitizer. Therefore, I’ll get some strong Alcohol, like some typical Austrian Schnaps, which usually have a ridiculously high alcohol percentage. Then I’ll fill some of it in a small bottle and carry that with me to disinfect my hands when I’m out and about.

Stocking up to be prepared

Since people have already been panic buying, in a rather small scale compared to full-blown panic buying, while the Virus is not even widespread here, I thought I better make sure we have a good amount of everything that’s important. So I guess I’ve been panic buying then as well? But at least I didn’t empty out shelves in the stores. I ordered online and I am buying additional things for our stock, little by little.

First I placed a number of orders last Saturday for food with a long shelf live, which arrived on Tuesday. I also bought more than enough milk that won’t spoil, as well as sugar, rice and noodles, and a whole bunch of high-calorie food that lasts long and where you don’t need to eat much of it to get all the nutrients. There is a whole bunch more for us that I stocked up on, so that we could last for quite a while without having to go to the store.

I also thought that those slim fast type drinks, that are supposed to be food replacement, can be a great emergency food source. I have some of it, because I had phases where I had no appetite at all and could not get anything down, but I was at least able to drink those.

Also stocking up for the cats

I already have quite a bit of food stocked for the cats anyway, but I also ordered some more on Saturday. Mainly I ordered dry food, since that lasts long and you get a whole lot of it. I wanted to have that covered first. But I will also try and stock up on wet cat food now as much as possible.

Even today as it was raining hard, I rode to the closets pet supply store to buy some more supplies for the cats.

Ideas for the cats

Then I realised that baby kitten formula can be a great emergency food supply for the cats, at least in the worst case. Since it will give them all the nutrients and energy.

Also, there is formula for cats in recovery, which is very similar to the baby kitten formula. I’ve got both at home for Samantha to help her gain some weight.

Then I thought about the kitty litter and how I could have enough of that at home. It seems the silicate type, which I have never used before, could be a great idea for an emergency kitty litter supply. Since it is lightweight and supposed to last quite a while.

Maybe those ideas can help someone. Also, if you have any helpful suggestions for the cats and us, let me know in the comments or in an email: catlady-natascha@protonmail.com

My worry was/is not so much about the getting sick myself, but about the access to my pain medication

Due to the emergency epidemic laws, any establishment, office, store, building etc., has to be closed right away, if there is just one person that frequented said place even just once, and then turns out to have the virus.

Also, everyone who works at one of these places and anyone who was present in these places at the same time, has to be tested multiple times and stay home in quarantine for 2 weeks, or until they recovered and the Virus isn’t detected anymore in their blood tests.

It just takes one person, in any of the places I depend on for my pain medication, and it has to shut down instantly.

I depend on…

  • my doctor’s office, to write my pain med prescription once a month.
  • the health department’s office for narcotic medications, who’s head doctor stamps and signs the prescription to make it valid. Without that, you can’t get anything at the pharmacy.
  • my pharmacy, who has the physical prescription as well as all my medicine for the month, to be picked up by me in the intervals it says on the script. So I never actually have all of it at home.

So even if just a person, who simply worries they could have contracted the Virus, comes into my doctor’s office, the doctor’s office is shut down right away by the health department head doctor and it’s going to stay closed until that person is cleared to be free of the Virus.

There has been a case just like that, a few days ago, in Lower Austria. A woman who ran into her GP’s office, worried about being infected with the Virus, the GP then had to close down the office in an instant, call the health department, who will then officially close down the office. Even though that woman turned out to be free of the Virus, the Doctor’s office is still closed and not even the Doctor himself knows when he’ll be able to open up again. He’s not even receiving any information about it upon request either.

Even though the way this case was handled by that counties health department is being widely criticised, (ie. not informing the Doctor about anything about to when he will be able to go back to helping his patients), it is certain that any doctors office will stay closed for many days. They don’t test a person just once, they do it repeatedly over the course of a couple days and up to the whole 14 days, just to make sure, since it can take a while before the Virus has reproduced enough times within a persons body to reach a detectable amount.

Government and media has been trying to get it into people’s heads to simply stay home and call the special hotline, that’s just there to send health care professionals to people who think they could have contracted the Virus. That phone number is under every new article about the outbreak, on every information provided about the Virus in Austria online and there are signs on the doors of doctors’ offices and hospitals, imploring people to NOT walk in if they think they could be infected with the Virus, explaining the consequences for the place if they do. Along with that, the sings list the number they need to call to get help.

But yet, this woman walked into that doctors office anyway.

All this worried me sick over the last 2 weeks.

The prospect of losing access to that treatment from one day to the next is extremely frightening, especially when you don’t know if there would be any help at all. Lot’s of uncertainty.

As of now, most, including the staff at my doctor’s office and most other people, don’t think the chance is very high that it’s going to be so bad.

Thankfully, I already have the next prescription all sorted out. My current one still goes till the end of next week. My pharmacy also already has the next prescription, which starts after next week and goes until almost mid-April. To have the actual valid prescription sorted out is the most important thing. Because I do think that the likelihood to get help since I can prove I have a valid prescription, is rather high. Especially since it’s not my fault if the pharmacy has to shut down. There are also many many many more patients like me in the exact same situation all over Graz and the Metro area.

But I have quite a bit of hope that it will get better soon

Knowing Austria and most of central Europe and how things are done here, it’s unlikely that whole cities or districts would be closed down. It’s even unlikely that any border would be closed.

But they finally stopped all direct flights from the worst affected countries. In addition, people who are coming from affected countries have to get themselves tested before they leave for Austria. Upon entry into Austria, they have to provide a doctors letter for the airports customs/immigration officers, confirming that they have been tested and are negative for the Virus.

They are now also starting to have random health checks (temperature measuring and interviews) on the border to Italy for anyone arriving by car. The governement said they know that isn’t eliminating the full risks, but it should help to reduce the number of people traveling to Austria, which will then hopefully slow down the outbreak.

Just like I was saying to Ralph before we even had a case in Austria, that by the time they do something, it will always be a bit too late. Those measures would have been great for the beginning, right when it got so bad in China.

The most helpful thing would have been to simply close ALL borders and private travel to Austria, and let only goods and mail/parcels go in and out. Then even on the motorways, it would only be the truck drivers who enter Austria with their trucks full of goods. Of course in the beginning, this would have caused a lot of traffic jams and challenges, but by now it would have been sorted out. Had they done this right in the by mid-January, all over Europe, we would be far better off now. Because I think the economy is going to suffer a lot more now than it would have if only goods were able to freely travel in and out. Within the countries, life and shopping would have gone on as usual.

But thankfully, people are avoiding travel more and more out of their own accord. Businesses in the Tourism industry are now complaining that they have not enough tourists now, but except for them, people are happy about that.

I’ve seen the empty streets in many cities in Europe on the news. Here in Graz life still seems to go on like always. The number of people wasn’t any lower in the city from what I saw all week. The city centre is usually packed full of people on Friday afternoon and Saturday, with people going shopping in all the stores and people sitting in the Cafés, laughing and having fun. The city centre, is a typical shopping area, with one store after the other, as well as lots of Cafés.

Apparently, in the UK toilet paper, kitchen rolls and all sorts of things are running out in stores because people are panic buying in lots of places. I’m now only going to Aldi’s and Spar and they still had enough of everything, even the long-lasting milk is still plentiful. Except for tinned food and all disinfection cleaning products and hand sanitisers. These products are completely gone everywhere. But as long as you can buy strong alcohol, like Schnapps and Vodka, for example, that’s perfectly enough to clean surfaces and kill the Virus. Even just washing your hands with soap should be enough, as long as you wash them really well.

Ralph, the cats and I right now

We’re all fine, as are the cats! We’ve got lots of kibbles stocked up for the cats and we have food and drink stocked up for us as well. So on that end, we’re not going to have any problems.

At the moment, I’m still feeling the migraine I had come on earlier in the evening. It was gone, but then came back when I was doing household chores… It was the second migraine today, the first one I got in the morning. Me worrying about losing access to my pain medicine, would help to prevent some of the migraines I’m getting right now. It would also be nice for poor Ralph, who’s been listening to me worry for two weeks now…

Otherwise, spring is coming, there are beautiful little spring flowers everywhere in the garden and bushes and trees are starting to sprout. Soon, the cats will be able to lie in the sun on the balcony and open windows (with cat safety nets of course).

The birds are also feeding happily and collecting little sticks for their new nests. We’re looking forward to the late spring and early summer, as by then, hopefully, this crisis will be over.

Stay safe with your sweet furkids everyone. I’m worried about all of you who live in an area that has a large scale outbreak. Thinking of you all and sending lots of love from Ralph, the cats and myself ❤

Murli the cat · Pictures · Ralph and I · The Cats · Videos

Our last weeks of December 2019

Hello my absolutely wonderful friends! It took me all that time to finish my post… Unbelievable, but our days just have been that way, where I can’t get anything finished, because so many other things had to be done.

I really have to thank you all again, just so that you know how much all of your kind messages and comments mean to me and how thankful I am for all that support and love.

December 18, 2019

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Hero

In the morning of December 18, 2019, little boy Hero had his neutering surgery. Everything went well and he did not seem to be in any pain at all. Just a bit tired and so he basically went to sleep not long after we arrived back home. Since we didn’t sleep much that night, we all just went to have a rest… Ralph, I and the cats in the bed.

At some point, I got woken up because my phone rang. It was the Crematory in Gleisdorf, where my sweet Murli had been cremated. Gleisdorf is a little less than half an hour away by car, depending on traffic. I was informed that I can pick up her Urn whenever I want. So I quickly looked up the times for the trains going to the town and told them I would arrive the next day at 11am. The Crematory is close to the train station.

December 19, 2019

In the morning, one of the first things I did was to finally free poor Samantha from her cone. I wanted her to be free of it and able to go to the toilet herself while I was gone for a few hours, to pick up Murli’s Urn in Gleisdorf.

Samantha simply looked exhausted after two weeks with the cone.

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Samantha after I removed her cone

Thankfully the train I had to take was one of the local trains, which stop at all the stations, including the one that’s near our home, so I didn’t have to go all the way to the main train station in Graz. It’s not even 5 minutes from us with my bicycle.

The train ride itself lasts about 30 minutes, but it feels much shorter. It goes through the countryside with lots of woods and is really lovely. The train arrived a few minutes before 11am and I walked straight to the close by Pet-Crematory.

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The Crematory Murli was cremated at

I thought I took many more photos from in front of the Crematory, but it seems the photos never saved on my phone. Something went wrong, which had probably more to do with the state I was in.

The sweet Lady I had already talked to one the one a few times greeted me as I walked in. It’s beautiful there. Much more beautiful than the Crematory for humans I’ve been to. It feels comforting as soon as you walk in. Friendly and warm. Not to mention that the people I had talked to and the sweet young man who picked up Murli, have been amazing. So understanding and kind. I knew about them for years and so I knew who to contact right away on the morning of Murli’s passing.

The Lady brought me to the room with Murli’s Urn. As soon as I got there, I greeted her as I always did with “Hey baby” and started crying right away. For quite a while. But they were just so kind there. They leave you alone, or stay with you, however you wish. You can also stay as long as you feel you need to before you leave with the Urn.

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Murli’s little urn. The certificate has all the information of the cremation on it, as well as my and Murli’s personal info. I also kept the rose and dried it. It’s now with Murli’s urn.

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Murli’s fur and her paw print on a ceramic heart

They offer to create a paw print on a ceramic and let you decide on the shape of it. I wanted it to be a heart, and the paw print in black, since Murli is a panfur with black paws. I had also asked them for some of Murli’s fur, back when I chose the Urn and paw print.

The Lady helped me to pack it up carefully, making sure it’s safe during my little travel back home. We also talked for a while, as she has cats herself and knows what it all feels like.

And so with Murli’s Urn safely with me, I went to catch the next train home. It definitely feels better now to have her urn back home with us.

It’s still going to be very difficult for quite a while, but that’s what I deal with within my own mind and soul. I want to be my normal and happy self for the other furkids, Samantha, Sonic, Lisa and Hero.

Everyone of you knows what it is like, so I don’t need, or even want to write about the sadness. Instead I want to remember and be grateful for every year, every day I got to spend with Murli my life. Murli was happiness, empathy, love and warmth all packed into a beautiful feline. All the kitties loved her right away. They all felt comfortable around her. When Hero and Lisa first came to us, and they were still absolutely frightened, they were for some reason feeling relaxed and less scared when they were near Murli. Her soul is alive and well and my bond with her will remain forever. I’m so grateful for my life with my beloved little family, which Murli will always remain part of.

Samantha

We worried a lot about Samantha too, as she was really unhappy with her cone. Also, we think any movement for her felt uncomfortable, since the cut was really deep, since the Vet had to make sure to get everything during her surgery, to make sure weird growth can restart in that spot.  Samantha was on pain meds of course, but it might still have been uncomfortable in some way.

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Me feeding Samantha with chicken, the only thing she would eat

Thankfully I was able to keep Samantha healthy during the whole two weeks with her cone; feeding her, giving her water with a syringe and carrying her to the toilet and everywhere else she wanted to be usually. Since she only ate chicken breast, I had to give her a supplement paste in the right amount, to make sure she still gets all the important nutrients and vitamins. When the day came to remove her stitches, Samantha was put on the scale and checked out properly. To my amazement, she had not lost any weight during that time and was well hydrated! The hydration was what I had worried about the most. I knew how much water an adult cat needs every day, and I tried my best to get as close to it as possible. Apparently it’s 50ml for every kg of body-weight.

Samantha started recovering from her ordeal and is doing really well again now. Her scar is healing up great! It’s wonderful to see her happy again.

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Samantha now

Christmas

To do something fun for the cats, I bought a little Christmas tree just for the balcony, so the cats have something interesting to smell at and investigate. They are only out for a few minutes at a time together with us, since it’s way too cold.

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Lisa (left) and Sonic

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Lisa

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Lisa is a little hidden on the left and Hero

The other decoration I had on the living room window, had been on there since the beginning of December. But I kept candles burning ever since the day Murli had passed. That’s what this window looks like:

Later I also put up a tiny little Christmas tree which I decorated and put somewhere Lisa and Hero can’t get to. Samantha and Sonic never tried anything too silly with our Christmas trees anyway.

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I bought that little tree where I had bought the bigger one for the balcony. It still smells lovely! Just for fun and because the cats need some decoration they like, I added some colourful mousies as well. Everyone got some nice Christmas gifts and tasty food. The weather station you can see behind the toys is what I got from Ralph for Christmas, since I’ve been wanting one for many years. It’s awesome!

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Toy mouse Christmas Decoration

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Hero trying to decide which toy to play with now

The cats are having fun with their new toys!

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Hero got to see the rail with the ball first, as the others were still sleeping

Hero and Lisa are great at playing together!

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Sonic and Hero

New Years

Their new toy was quite helpful in trying to distract the cats from all the noise from the fire crackers and fire works at midnight on new years eve! Sonic of course was not worried anyway, since he can’t hear, but Samantha, Hero and Lisa were worried. Though we did quite well in calming them down and making them feel safer. Luckily, it’s not as crazy where we are. It would be a different story right in the city centre.

I didn’t even look at the fire works, and instead stayed with the cats, comforting them.

The last sunset of 2019 was absolutely beautiful.

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And there we are, another year gone by. Actually, a whole decade gone by. But it does not feel like it’s been so long. Despite how fast the time goes by, I am thankful for every second of it. Every moment I got to spend with everyone I love. I am holding on and loving every moment I can spend with Ralph, Samantha, Sonic, Hero and Lisa. And I’m thankful for every single friend I found through posting about Murli and about our life now.

Thank you all for every lovely word of yours and for continuing to visit, despite me not being able to keep up with my replies lots of times. Though I do read and appreciate every single one of them and I’ll reply, even if I’m late.

Ralph, the cats and myself, wish everyone of you happiness for the new year. Wishing good health and wellbeing for human and furry friends, and may everyone be able to spend as much time as they want and can with their loved ones.

Lots of love from us, and purrs from the kitties!

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Lisa and Hero with the red light of the sunset