Former Kenyan rugby player Teddy Omondi on lockdown in France
Finding something uplifting during these times of living under the shadow of a COVID-19 pandemic is tough.
For Teddy Omondi, a former Kenya rugby international and a professional coach living in France, the current lockdown in the country has been a blessing in disguise.
He is now able to spend more time with his family in Meaux, 40 km from the capital Paris.
A countrywide lockdown was put in place by the French President on March 17th. Teddy used to have a hectic schedule before the shutdown.
“My day would start typically at 3am and go to work at a transport public transportation company. I would finish at around 2pm and then take a rest. I also volunteer as a coach to U-19 local team and in the evenings I stay with the kids to have a balanced family life,” he said
Teddy would work an average of 10 hours per day, shuttling between work, coaching and his studies.
The outbreak in France which stands at over 40,000 with more than 2,600 deaths has significantly impacted his life and the rest of Europe’s third largest economy.
“You can imagine outside…. the streets are empty, you can only get out of the house once…for you to leave your house you need an authorization paper, that only allows you to leave for 1 hour and not more than 1km from your house,” Teddy said.
His wife Sheila Jepchumba Omondi is choosing to look at the positive side of being under lockdown.
“…to spend a lot of time with our family and our kids getting to know them better….and also getting to work together and my children, the daily schedules,” she said.
Their first born son Keino Ooke Omondi said: “Bad because I can’t go to football and play football, and I can’t see friends, yes I can see my friends but not close because of coronavirus.”
Paris usually has thousands of visitors thronging its bustling sites such as the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe: however, streets remain empty as the country grapples with the outbreak.
The coronavirus pandemic has prompted residents to adapt their lives significantly: working from home is now the norm for many.
“Most of the work we are doing is online or calling people from Skype and it’s really tough for everyone,” Teddy said.
His wife Sheila added: “In terms of work we’ve been highly impacted: we have to work from home. A lot of our activities have been cut down and quite a number of people will go to employment benefits.”
One doctor who works in Paris has closed her doors to patients but she has opted for video conference for consultations with patients communicating with her online and providing a diagnosis without any physical contact.
Tura Milo said: “I have changed all my consultations to only video consultations, and very surprisingly, the patients very quickly adapted to that. It takes sometimes quite a bit of organisation and explaining to people how to do it.”
Staying indoors can also take a toll on the body. Physical exercise is encouraged but the rules prohibiting social interaction still apply. For teddy and his family, the one hour they are allowed to go outdoors is spent efficiently.
“During the day, we go for a run around 3.30pm for about an hour,” Teddy said.
In other areas such as Nantes in Western France, residents of one apartment block have a communal workout every evening outside their individual balconies.
The COVID-19 outbreak has put a significant strain on hospitals in Eastern France, the country’s epicenter, with the government setting up special trains to ferry sick patients to less impacted areas.
They are also providing financial support to companies. France is expected to introduce stricter rules as Europe continues to be ravaged by the virus.
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