Lockdown Blog 3: Positive stories from around the world

When all else is lost, hope is a powerful thing.

When chaos seems to envelop us and things close in around us, like a surfer inside a narrowing pipeline just as the wave comes crashing down upon them, hope is a powerful antidote.

Right now, it’s safe to say, few people in the world have prior experience of what’s currently happening. Most would probably argue it’s unprecedented and any previous experience of pandemics might go part of the way towards understanding the current global crisis, but doesn’t go the full way to feeling at all comfortable with where things are at, currently, or even where they will end up in 1, 3, 6, 9, 12, who knows how many months’ time.

The other day I was watching the news, like many other people, no doubt, and a lady came on. She was in Paris and was a former war journalist and the she said something that really struck a chord with me. Over her career, she’d covered eighteen wars, two genocides and goodness knows how many other horrific events. And there was one common trait that she had witnessed in each of these conflicts around the world. You’ve probably guessed what it is. That’s right, one tiny four-lettered word: hope.

Hope. That despite common sense or logic in the face of the worst atrocities humans could commit upon one another, the thing that kept people going was that, somehow, somewhere, sometime, there was light at the end of the tunnel.

And in the wake of the lockdown she was currently experiencing in Paris, she had been inspired by some of the positive stories that were emerging from around the world, at this time. So I thought I’d share them because people can be pretty amazing when faced with harrowing situations. Here are some I’d like to share with you from articles that I’ve read online:

Elderly queues

You’ve probably seen lots of pictures and videos online of people rushing around supermarkets trying to get as much toilet roll as possible.

Some of the major supermarkets have realised that this panic-buying behaviour stops more vulnerable and elderly people from getting the supplies they need.

So, they’ve reserved special slots in their opening times specifically for more vulnerable customers to get their shopping done.

Hotel NHS

It’s really important that NHS workers like doctors and nurses are able to carry on helping those in need.

It means that they can’t be near family members who have been affected by the virus.

To combat this, Chelsea Football Club – and former Manchester United footballer, Gary Neville – have opened up their hotels for NHS workers to use for free if and when they need them.

A helping hand… Sanitiser

Lots of companies who normally produce things like alcohol and perfume have switched their attention to producing hand sanitiser for free.

It’s because lots of supermarkets and chemists have placed strict limits on the number of hand sanitising gels shoppers can buy as producers struggle to source enough ingredients and small plastic bottles.

High fashion brand, Louis Vuitton, has told French authorities that the company will provide hand sanitiser “for as long as necessary”.

In the UK, the brewing company Brewdog has started doing the same in an effort to help.


Italy has been forced into lockdown because of the coronavirus. It has meant people have had to stay in their homes.

But, this hasn’t stopped the Italian spirit with lots of people deciding to have a singsong from their balconies.

Celebrities have got in on the act as well, with the likes of John Legend and Chris Martin giving fans a virtual concert through social media.

And what about the ‘twelve days of lockdown‘!


In the battle against global warming, scientists say that the number of people staying in their homes has caused levels of air pollutants and warming gases to fall.

In fact, it’s down almost 50% on this point in time last year.


A silver lining for pangolins – Vietnam is going to end its trade in wild animals killed for meat or parts after Covid-19 has been linked to transmission from bats to humans via a wildlife host. The ministry of agriculture is said to be drawing up the directive “quickly” to present by April 1. The WWF has said it’s inspired a crackdown on the trade in pangolin scales.

Community Groups

Approximately 250 community groups have been set up across the UK in the last few weeks to help those in self-isolation or those suffering from coronavirus. The groups are organised by Covid-19 Mutual Aid UK and offer help with shopping, dog walking, and picking up prescriptions.

Storytime in Israel

In Israel last night, the president, Reuven Rivlin, invited parents and children to join him for story-time on his Facebook page. Mr Rivlin read the children’s book “A Flat for Rent” by Leah Goldberg. The book is based on an eastern European fable and is a classic of children’s literature about the importance of being friendly to your neighbours.  

Lending a hand…or mask

China has offered to provide more than two million medical masks and 50,000 coronavirus testing kits to Europe. Last Thursday Italy and Spain received 1.8 million masks from China.  

Carol of the bells

In the Netherlands, James Crisp reports that 175 Dutch churches rang their bells between 7pm and 7.15pm last night as a “sign of hope” against coronavirus. The bell-ringing, inspired by the nationwide tradition of applauding healthcare workers from balconies, will be repeated on March 25 and April 1. 

Forza Italia

A 79-year-old Italian man has successfully been cured of coronavirus after being treated with an experimental drug called remdesivir. The man has been given the all clear and the drug is currently being tested in five Covid-19 clinical trials.

Meatballs for everyone

Meanwhile Belgians are sponsoring meatball meals – a national favourite – for hospital workers. Ball and Glory, a Belgian meatball restaurant, had a lot of leftover food after a catering contract was cancelled. Members of the public are paying €8 for a meatball meal to be delivered to hospitals for medical personnel. Confined Belgians have also started applauding hospital workers from their apartment balconies, inspired by similar events in France, the Netherlands, Spain and Italy.  

Eurovision in-sync

In Russia, the synchronized swimming team performed the dance routine of the Russian band picked to represent the country at Eurovision to cheer them up after the contest was cancelled, Nataliya Vasilyeva reports. You can watch the video here.

The Sofa Singers

And back in the UK, James Sills launched The Sofa Singers – a virtual choir – last night. Sills, a musician who lives in north Wales, was joined by 400 people for a 45-minute rehearsal featuring Stand By Me by Ben E. King and Just The Way You Are by Bruno Mars.

In Venice, locals are reporting they can see fish in the canals for the first time in years

The water of the canals in Venice is clearer ever since the COVID-19 coronavirus has put a halt to tourism in the famous city. Over the past few years, the city has been struggling to deal with overcrowding and pollution caused largely by tourism.

This has resulted in the city’s canals becoming murky due to pollution. Now, videos and images are emerging of the canals, showing that the water has become crystal clear.

It’s not just Venice that has seen big changes. In Italy, where drastic lockdown measures were put in place following a spike in COVID-19 cases, a video has surfaced of dolphins at the port of Cagliari, swans have been seen in the waters of Milan, and other wildlife returning to areas that were previously uninhabitable.

As one commenter on social media put it, perhaps “this isn’t an apocalypse. It’s an awakening.”

It’s bringing out the best in people

In difficult moments people come together, help each other out, and show a sense of solidarity that is often missing in calmer times — despite some ugly, unwanted scenes related to supermarket stockpiling, this has overwhelmingly been the case in people’s reactions to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

In Italy, which has been one of the worst affected countries by the pandemic, whole communities have come together to sing songs and play instruments from their balconies.

In Spain, citizens started a tradition of clapping from their balconies for the nurses, doctors, and other healthcare workers working hard to fight to help those who are ill.

Examples of communities coming together to help each other out — while keeping a safe distance — have been spreading through social media; whether it’s kids offering to go shopping for local elderly neighbors, or teams of engineers coming together to 3D print much-needed respirators.

I’ll be back next week with another round up for you. Let me know if you encounter any and maybe I can share them. Send a message to with a subject heading of ‘Positive stories’ and let’s make sure we balance the necessary information from healthcare specialists and government officials with a tonic of good news from all corners of our planet.

Take care of others and be sure to check in on yourself, too. That’s important.

Bye for now!


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