Emanuel E. Garcia, M.D.
In the year 1 B.C. (Before Corona), we here in New Zealand were getting along rather well. Despite the exorbitant cost of food and housing, the majestic and available beauty of the physical country gave us immeasurable comfort. Our government, we thought, might not have been the most efficient one in the world, nor the one most populated with high intelligence, but it seemed to make an effort to represent its citizenry and to provide basic services. At the time – 2019 by conventional dating – I was an employee of the health sector and I provided psychiatric services to the people of Lower Hutt, a small city just outside Wellington, the nation’s capital.
When I first received news about the new virus that had emerged in Wuhan and, shortly thereafter, had rapidly spread to Italy, I was skeptical; but the snowball set in motion gathered mass and momentum and by early 2020 the entirety of New Zealand was under house arrest. During that calamitous time, I had happened to have planned a vacation. With nowhere to go I volunteered my services at a local primary care facility for several weeks, helping with prescriptions, advising GPs about mental health issues and making home visits when necessary. When I returned to work as a psychiatrist and tended my usual flock, everyone was masked, protective equipment was being pushed and distancing was de rigueur.