The kindness and love of strangers in times of COVID-19

An Australian tourist with COVID-19 died in a remote part of Iceland on 16 March. His wife also tested positive for COVID-19 and Icelandic authorities had no choice but to put her into quarantine immediately.

Not only does she have to come to terms with her loss but she has to do so alone, whilst sick and isolated in a foreign country, which is geographically as far as possible from home. Given the current situation of global travel it is highly unlikely that her relatives or friends will be able to travel to Iceland at the moment.

The Australian tourist is understood to have been in his 40s. He was critically ill when he entered a regional hospital in Húsavík almost 500 km northeast of the capital Reykjavík, and died soon afterwards. It has not been confirmed that COVID-19 was the cause of death. He did not show the typical symptoms when he entered the hospital but it was found that he was suffering from the virus after he passed away.

Icelandic authorities have given few facts about the tourists´death and his surviving widow, but the case has generated much sympathy.

An Icelandic woman Rakel Jónsdóttir decided to create a Facebook group called “With love from us”, so that Icelanders could show their support to the widow. In less than 36 hours it attracted almost 3,500 members from a population of 350,000.

Screenshot of “With love from us all” Facebook page
Screenshot of “With love from us all” Facebook page

“You are far far away from home, and your loss is unimaginable,” writes Rakel Jónsdóttir.

“You may not see us, you may not know us, but we all think of you and have you in our hearts.

We feel for you and wanted to let you know that you are not alone here in our frozen land of volcanoes and earthquakes.”

Hundreds have sent short messages many decorated with hearts or photographs, predominantly women.

“My dear Australian sister, I am so sorry for your loss ❤”, writes Helga Davíðsdóttir. “Although no words can really help to ease the loss you bear, just know that you are held very close in everyone´s thoughts and prayers in this group. My heart and the heart of all Iceland is with you in your time of sorrow, you are not alone.”

Another woman, Kristín Gísladóttir, says she too recently  lost her husband.

”The fact that you are in isolation, alone in a foreign country with no one to hug you and dry your tears makes it so much more difficult for you. I am so sorry for your loss, I cry with you and wish you all the best in the future.”

250 cases of COVID-19 have been detected in Iceland so far.


Additional link:

UNRIC Library Backgrounder on #COVID19

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