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'It feels like Australia is just weeks behind Ireland and the UK - and I worry about my family back home'

In this special series, ‘Lockdown Letters' gives our readers at home and across the globe an opportunity to share their stories about how the Coronavirus and the measures to tackle its spread are impacting their lives in these unprecedented times.

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Cyan Murphy from Co Cork is living in Melbourne, Australia

Cyan Murphy from Co Cork is living in Melbourne, Australia

Cyan Murphy from Co Cork is living in Melbourne, Australia

I moved to the big city lights of Melbourne, Australia, from Cork City in 2018. It has been an exciting time. Over the past two years, I have taken full advantage of all that the city has to offer. However, that has all ended abruptly due to coronavirus.

At first there were faint whispers of deaths in China, and then Italy. Now, Australians consider Europe the "epicentre" of the virus. It feels like Australia is just weeks behind Ireland and the UK.

‘Toiletgate’ – or #ToiletGate for those glued to Twitter – was a serious issue for a while here. Supermarket shelves were ripped of everything: toilet paper and kitchen paper, frozen vegetables and pasta. Panic buying became the norm. Social media was flooded with videos of fights over the last loo roll and pictures of empty shelves.

It got so bad that supermarkets had to limit purchases of these items to just one or two. The selfishness shown by some has been shocking and scares me more than any virus.

This week has been the week of social distancing. I am lucky to work for an insurance company that has fully supported a work-from-home policy, meaning my new desk is my dining-room table. Sounds great in theory, but it can be quite lonely and leads to a less productive workday. I thrive on water-cooler banter and chats. Now, it’s just my cat listening to my awful jokes.

My biggest worry in the current climate is being so far from home. I have the most supportive family in the world. My mother would swim across the seven seas to get me if I wanted to come home. Even flying home now is off the cards. The number of available flights is dwindling, while the prices have sky-rocketed.

The scary thing is realising how little support there is for working-holiday-visa holders. Australians have access to Medicare (a free healthcare service akin to the HSE) and Centrelink (jobseeker’s allowance). None of that is available to me.

I don’t think the full effects of the coronavirus have been felt here yet. All I I can do is stay calm, focused and hope that everything goes back to normal soon.

I worry about my family back home and check in everyday with a very worried Irish mother to remind her to wash her hands, not touch her face and give her my Netflix password for the hundredth time. It’s all I can do.

We are living history. The challenges posed by Covid 19 are similar the world over but everybody’s experience of this emergency will be different. In this special series, ‘Lockdown Letters' gives our readers at home and across the globe an opportunity to share their stories about how the Coronavirus and the measures to tackle its spread are impacting their lives in these unprecedented times.

Please email your submission (400 words max.) to stories@independent.ie along with a photograph. We will publish as many letters as possible on Independent.ie and a selection in print every week.

Online Editors