The COVID-19 pandemic has affected many people in various ways. For Spanish designer Ana Rio, the global health crisis had brought her life changes when she least expected them.
“My family and I were in my husband’s home country in Italy for the Chinese New Year holiday in February 2020, when step by step everybody started to use masks in the streets, and step by step, cities were closing,” Rio recalled.
Due to travel and visa processing restrictions from measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, it took 11 months before Rio and her husband and daughter returned to Shenzhen.
“I never anticipated that I would be away from my home, work and life in China for that long,” she said.
While Rio was in Italy and Spain, she had no choice but to work remotely. “I was OK working from home,” she said. “The only issue was the time difference, which required me to get up at 5 a.m. to catch up some hours in order to work with my department, communicate with others or hold meetings.”
Rio described the period when she was stuck in Europe as "a weird time," saying she was anxious most of the time.
Immediately after she returned to Shenzhen last year, Rio was thrown back into the frenetic life she was familiar with, which continued until Shenzhen “pushed the pause button” to combat a COVID-19 flare-up in March this year.
“I was at home for eight days, totally restricted to just stay at home and only get down to get tested,” Rio said.
However, there are silver linings during the lockdown, one of which was being able to spend more time with her 7-year-old daughter due to a slower pace of life. “I played with her, and we did some drawings together,” she said.
Rio cheered when she learned that health authorities in Shanghai had allowed guardians to accompany their children when they test positive for the virus. “I would go crazy if my little girl was separated from me if she tests positive,” she said, adding that she was wondering what measures authorities in Shenzhen would adopt.
Despite facing uncertainties brought about by the pandemic, Rio said we should stay positive. “It is very very very important to stay positive during the pandemic, but also in our lives in general,” she said. “It is important to move on and it is something that I hope China can do soon.”