Magazine Article - Politico Magazine

Cologne Sanitizer, Boxed Wine and Bidets: How People in 68 Countries Are Coping With Coronavirus

| Mar. 22, 2020

In Finland, they’re drinking boxed wine and playing Korona, a board game. In Greece, they’re stockpiling feta. The French refuse to stop kissing. ISIS is telling its members to avoid traveling to Europe to conduct attacks. And, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, hand-washing stations are everywhere; they know the drill.

As the novel coronavirus continues spreading, the whole world is preparing for the onslaught in similar ways—social distancing, working from home, panic buying at grocery stores. But people in different countries are also weathering this crisis in different ways, finding, for example, different products to hoard, different ways to pass the time, different people to blame and even different things to worry about.

Over the past week, I emailed, texted and contacted via Facebook friends around the world—including a network of acquaintances and colleagues I’ve built over 20 years working in foreign policy, living in Europe and traveling widely—and asked them to tell me about their lives under coronavirus watch: items in scarce supply, coping mechanisms, jokes and the effect of culture and history on national responses. In total, I heard from more than 90 people in 68 countries, all of whom sent me anecdotes, press clips and Twitter videos providing a snapshot of life in mid-March under COVID-19. Here’s what I’ve learned so far.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Sloat, Amanda. “Cologne Sanitizer, Boxed Wine and Bidets: How People in 68 Countries Are Coping With Coronavirus.” Politico Magazine, March 22, 2020.