by Mary Grace

On March 11th, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared Covid-19 a worldwide pandemic. Many countries are being affected and are forced to go on lockdown. With the current situation, jobs and income have become scarce. We asked nine women around Asia to find out how their lives have been affected by this outbreak.

1. Heejin Bae, South Korea

In Korea, people are practicing social distancing. The government has also implemented a 5-day rotation system for mask distribution. The ‘day’ a person is allowed to purchase masks is determined by the last digit of their respective birth year. The locals also receive a disaster warning text message when a confirmed case is reported.

We’re working from home as well by doing video conferences and using messenger to have work-related conversations.

Sending lots of support to the medical team who are helping us to fight against Covid-19. I’ve heard that many Korean medical staff are suffering because they have to wear masks for a long duration of time daily. I’m sure this is the same for other countries too. But because of you, we’re able to stay safe. I respect and thank you.

2. Dr Naadhiya Siva Kumar, Malaysia

As a doctor who works in a government hospital, which is also the national referral centre for all COVID-19 cases, my responsibility towards patients, other healthcare workers and my country, has become more challenging.

With this pandemic, there are moments where I come home happily thinking of what I’ve accomplished at work in changing people’s lives. Then again, there are times when I come home crying hoping to do better.

My family has been very supportive and that itself reduces half my burden. Because of my loving family, I am able to get home-cooked food every day at work and enough rest when I get home.

I’ve learnt that teamwork plays a very important role in this battle against the coronavirus. We are no longer Doctors, Nurses, Medical Assistants, Cleaners, Security Guards, Police and Army – WE ARE ALL CALLED FRONTLINERS. We are one as a team. Although we leave our homes with fear in our hearts, the moment we step out, we are ready to serve our country and the people.

3. Kiki Qabuki, Malaysia

I’m waiting to start my new job once the lockdown is lifted. As of now, my sole income comes from my freelance job as a MUA/ Henna Artist. It has seriously been affected. Many are reserving their finances due to uncertain situations.

4. Kathleen Gallyot, Philippines

We’re currently undergoing community quarantine in the Philippines. All public transportation has stopped operating and only private vehicles are allowed to commute.Only one person per family is allowed to go out to buy their essentials with a quarantine pass.

My job isn’t affected by the pandemic since I’m an allied health professional and we’re really taken care of but honestly, the fear of putting my life at risk is still there.

It’s frustrating to know there is no cure yet. It saddens me to see patients fighting their battles on their own and some – do not survive. On the other hand, this pandemic has taught us all self-discipline and to appreciate the little things in life.

5. Emma Phoon, Singapore

I’m thankful and grateful that my job is safe during this pandemic. However, I’m really sad that some colleagues were affected – either let go or unpaid leave. Our company had no choice but to downsize. Many of them have families to feed, commitment and loans to pay off.

6. Mona, Malaysia

Since Malaysia has been on lockdown, my business has been badly affected. Working in the beauty line, exposure to the virus and carriers are high and can be spread easily by contact. Due to this, I try not to take too many customers and will always check if they’re unwell or if they’ve recently travelled overseas. Hence, I haven’t been making much on revenue and unfortunately, cut down my staff.

It’s a scary situation, especially since I have a baby.

7. Bella, Indonesia

In my country, people are taking advantage by stocking up medical necessities and reselling it at an incredibly high price. This makes it hard for nurses, doctors and the less fortunate to have access to supplies. I hope that people can be more considerate of each other – we are all struggling.

The government encourages us to stay at home, and whenever possible, work from home too. So far, there aren’t any strict rules to force us to remain at home but we are doing social distancing.

This pandemic has impacted each of my businesses differently. My retail business has seen a significant drop in sales, which is inevitable. Our distribution business is losing customers and this affects our stock, cash flow as well as staff salaries. Conversely, my online homebaked desserts is enjoying a significant increase in sales with people now ordering everything online. This increased sales is probably true for all online food services in general.

8. Hana Hasnan, Malaysia

In Malaysia, selected outlets are still operating but on new shortened opening hours. Staff are also required to follow further strict standard operating procedures. Obviously, the company’s sales target will be affected. This will eventually impact staff salaries too.

My parents were really worried about the whole situation and did not allow me to work. This has affected my income, as I have no other source of income.

As I am also studying, most of us students are struggling with our studies because of the changes implemented by universities and colleges.

My message for Malaysians is to always follow the restriction movement order and to adhere to the orders by the Ministry of Health. Please, take extra precautionary steps and stay safe!

9. Patricia Utami, Indonesia

Since we mainly sell flowers for wedding bouquets, hampers and more, my business hasn’t been good. Most wedding events are either postponed or cancelled. There are still orders for birthday gifts or for their spouses but we have limited supplies as some of these flowers are imported.

Online businesses are also facing a hard time since they rely on imported goods from China and the USA. Plus, the government has also implemented restrictions on imported goods.

Stay at home and if you’re well to-do, please donate masks, protection suits and other essentials. Our frontliners need it more than we do.

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