With masks a part of daily attire now and more cooking at home, surprising insights are registered online as we adapt, adjust, accept
Life has changed - tick.
Food habits have changed - tick.
Body shape has changed - tick.
Outdoor selfies have changed - tick.
Outdoor has changed - tick.
In the beginning, when work from home began, there was television. There was the possibility of watching endless shows the whole day or keeping the news channel on from morning till night and somehow replicating the noise of the newsroom that I was missing.
Now, the black rectangular screen thing with wires remains switched off most of the time.
Instead, there are new sounds that I am noticing.
They include the laughter of children from a house in the neighbouring block (nice that they seem to be in good spirits in spite of being stuck at home amid the circuit breaker), the twittering and chirping of birds from surrounding trees (yes, there is a difference between chirp and twitter), and the barking of a dog from the flat upstairs (after the initial irritation, I now feel concerned if I don't hear him for a good part of the day).
For sure, this situation we are in is difficult to get used to. There are small worries - will there be a long queue to enter the supermarket today? There are big worries - will I be able to board a plane to visit the parents this year?
However, as with the adjustment with the television and surrounding sounds, we will hopefully be able to adapt and adjust to the various other changes wrought by Covid-19.
It is the least we can do while front-line workers battle the virus head-on.
Like many others, for the first time I shall be clearing my annual leave later this month without travelling anywhere. At first, I felt distressed about "wasting" my leave. Now, I am looking forward to it.
Why, do you ask? Well, I decided to feel better instead of bitter, and have selected some online courses to explore during those days.
While browsing around for topics that interested me, I came across an e-mail from Class Central, a US-based listing of online courses, that said its site has received more visits from March 15 to April 15 this year amid the pandemic, than during the whole of last year. It registered 30 million page views in the one month compared with 21 million page views over the whole of last year, indicating a huge surge in interest for virtual courses during this time.
Employers too are also searching for ways to upskill their employees, a Google fact sheet about searches in Singapore shows. How to "arrange training for employees during coronavirus" was found to be among the list of top queries online during the circuit breaker period.
Apart from courses, I also find myself looking for more food recipe videos nowadays. While contactless food delivery is a welcome option, I feel varying the daily menu with home-cooked meals on some days is healthy.
Browsing supermarket aisles physically and recipe videos virtually have revealed two things - first, baking is a hit during the circuit breaker. Cocoa powder and flour seem to be perpetually out of stock. Second, frozen prata has a zillion uses - check out #frozenpratahacks on social media. If you want to know how frozen prata can be used to make puffs, tarts, pizzas, rolls and even you tiao when the real deal is unavailable, you know where to go.
In fact, home cooking has seen "how to make" searches grow by 64 per cent on Yahoo Singapore during the circuit breaker period. This includes searches on how to make bubble tea, tapioca pearls, chicken rice, mua chee, cheng tng and mee hoon kueh.
On Google, "how to" searches soared to their highest level last month here. Queries on how to make bubble tea and how to make tapioca pearls grew more than 5,000 per cent after circuit breaker measures were further tightened from April 22.
While we may have all made and had dalgona coffee by now, a local twist on how to make dalgona milo also popped up among trending Google searches here. A YouTube video on it from March has about 412,931 views and 2,400 likes so far.
Trending "how to" searches are not limited to food and drink.
How to make masks and how to sew were among top searches in Singapore on Google last month.
Which brings us to another change brought about by Covid-19 - with face coverings an inevitable part of our essential attire for some time to come at least, some are wondering about the fate of the lipstick. "Now that it looks compulsory to wear face masks, what's the fate of the lipstick industry?" is a question that is being asked on Twitter by various people.
Maybe I shall bake some egg tarts using frozen prata as a base and think about it some more.
PICTURES FOR PATIENTS
With no visitor policies for Covid-19 patients recovering in hospitals, medical staff have been trying to provide the much-needed emotional support as well, spending time with patients and holding their hands during difficult moments.
But they know how much difference the presence of a family member can mean when one is sick.
After Boston nurse Jeanna Barbieri spent most of her shift with a critically ill Covid-19 patient, comforting her in her final hours, she decided to do something about making patients and their families feel more connected.
Moved by the tears and fears of patients battling the disease without their families by their side, she asked family members to e-mail her photos that would bring some cheer to those hospitalised. She then printed them out for the patients so that they could feel less alone.
That is how #picturesforpatients went viral.
"On Saturday I spent the last five hours of a patient's life with them. Not their family, not their friends... me. With very few exceptions, visitors are not allowed to be at the hospital due to the risk to themselves and others. We are there to fight beside and for the patients, and I know we feel honoured to do so, but at the end of the day we are not their family so, I'm starting a project," she wrote in her first post on April 16, which now has 7,700 shares.
Ms Barbieri, an emergency room nurse at Lowell General Hospital, receives baby pictures, wedding memories and photos of family meals. Families of patients who do not have coronavirus and are not able to visit can also e-mail their requests.
"I think bringing in those normal life elements, having families and friends - it's okay to miss them," Ms Barbieri told Boston 25 News. "But you know what? Here they are. They're closer. They're thinking of you. I just think being able to do that for people is really huge right now."
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