The open window and social distancing at the Observant office had the desired effect last week. No one else on the team was infected with coronavirus after our colleague WD left the building in a hurry on Monday morning because her husband, who’d been having the sniffles, had tested positive from a self-test kit. She was going home to wait for the PCR test result. The news was not good: her husband’s positive test result was confirmed, and she later tested positive as well. We agreed that I would replace her as best I could in the interview with Janine Abbring, the host of the Dutch TV programme Zomergasten, on Thursday 4 November. WD had been preparing the event with our former editor WB. It had already been postponed twice during the lockdowns.
On Wednesday, WB and I talked the interview through. He would take the lead and I would be a sidekick of sorts, asking the questions that came to my mind in the moment. It would be a piece of cake – or so I thought. But the next morning, it turned out that WB wasn’t feeling well either. It’s probably the flu, he said. It’s COVID, everyone on the team thought. After all, he had been sitting closest to WD that Monday morning. And they’d been preparing the Abbring interview together.
Anyway, whether it was COVID or not, he was ill. He wouldn’t be able to make it to the event. And that, we quickly decided together with our co-organiser Rob van Duijn of Studium Generale, meant we had to cancel the interview that would take place in the auditorium on Minderbroedersberg. About 150 people were expected to attend. What a shame. Fortunately, WB learnt on Sunday that he had tested negative.
Will we get a fourth chance to hold the event? I have no idea. For now, we’re focused on getting all the work done with a reduced team. Partly at home, partly at the office, with our face masks at the ready. I’d forgotten that they fog up your glasses.
The city centre was already filled with students wearing face masks on Monday. They outnumbered the people who’d left their masks at home. The same was true for the Sports Centre on Monday evening – in the corridors, at the front desk, on the stairs: face masks everywhere.
And then I learn that a good friend of mine has caught the virus. She’s been having a fever for 2.5 weeks. And yes, she was vaccinated. I also learn that an old acquaintance, who refused the vaccine, is fighting for his life in the ICU.
On Tuesday morning, I’m discussing some things with my colleague MT. He ends a long WhatsApp message with the words “I have a sore throat”, followed by a shocked emoji. I feel the same way. We stood and talked about work for quite a while on Monday. I decide to send a message to my drawing group: is it safe to go to class? Is there good ventilation in the room?
Three weeks ago, I thought I was relatively safe from COVID as a fully vaccinated person. Now I know better. Take care of yourselves. It’s not over yet.