With more than 22,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 as of Mar. 25, 2020, France is one of the hardest hit countries outside of China.
The French government placed its citizens on a 15-day lockdown, which started at noon on Mar. 17.
In a Zaobao essay on Mar. 20, Singaporean former actress Sharon Au pens her experience as life in Paris comes to a pause.
Au left her job at Mediacorp and moved to the European city in early 2018, where she subsequently became an investment director.
The day before the lockdown
When France announced the lockdown on Mar. 16, Au's phone lit up with a flurry of messages from concerned friends and family.
Even her two godsons, who were on their way back to Singapore from a boarding school in London, urged her to hop on a plane as soon as possible.
Au has also been instructed to work from home, while friends are refraining from meet-ups.
As restaurants suspended operations, Au had another concern: How would she settle her daily meals, as someone who eats out frequently?
Off she went to the supermarket for "manageable" ingredients, such as eggs and instant noodles.
Except plenty of other Parisians had the same thought, and most shelves had already been swept clear (including the one for eggs).
Disappointed, Au settled on cheese, sparkling water, bread, chocolate, vegetables, canned sardines, and a few packs of chips, sending photos of the empty shelves to friends in Singapore.
On her way home, Au noticed something positive, after appeals from the country's Prime Minister and Ministry of Health: About seven out of 100 Parisians were wearing masks now.
Previously, it was one in a hundred. And that one person was usually her.
Ignorant or foolish?
Nonetheless, the pubs are overflowing with the young and reckless who did not give two hoots about safe distancing.
Depending on the viewer, such an attitude oscillates between ignorance and stubborn foolishness, Au wrote.
She is also disheartened by the acts of discrimination, and how Covid-19 is being viewed as an "Asian disease", despite the fact that Europe is fast becoming its epicentre.
Humanity is unlovable at times when it is destroying the earth and one another, Au added.
The earth is protesting, she believes, and it wants us to use less, splurge less, waste less, and to stop being fixated on matters of money.
It is only at the last moment that we learn to reflect — a trait fatal to humanity.
In addition to worrying about the economy, Au is also advocating for people to look after the environment, and not neglect their personal hygiene.
It is also a good time to re-examine one's goals, to see if they do more harm than good.
She encourages those staying at home to read more, learn more, write more, and to show more love to their families and neighbours.
Spending her days at home
During this period, Au has been updating her Instagram with her daily activities.
These include working, reading, watching the TV, and playing table tennis.
On Day 8, she got approval from the French government to do a quick grocery run.
Top image via Sharon Au's Instagram