Thousands of Spaniards went out to their balconies to applaud the work of the health workers on the night of March 14. Photo: EFE/Javer Cebollada

 

The global outbreak of coronavirus, especially in Spain, is producing situations we could never have imagined possible a few months ago: thousands of people infected, hospital and health services inundated, businesses and the economy paralysed and, above all, millions of people and their families hoping that together, we will be able to overcome this crisis. Difficult times however, often bring out the very best in people. From campaigns encouraging people to stay at home for the next few weeks, to young people offering to help the elderly cope with this difficult situation, we, the Spanish people, are once again demonstrating to the world one of our most renowned traits: our solidarity.

 

Help for the elderly and people at risk

 

These days many apartment blocks are becoming the best reflection of the solidarity among neighbours who, under normal circumstances, may not even know each other. In many apartment blocks, posters have been put up offering to do the shopping or pick up medicine from the pharmacy, for elderly people and those who are most at risk, in order to prevent them from going out and risking infection. Hundreds of university students, unemployed people, teachers and teleworkers are offering to help any way they can within their apartment block, in their neighbourhood and via social media platforms, WhatsApp groups and even advertising platforms.

 

 

 

Stay-at-home concerts

 

Can you imagine attending a music festival on social media, from the comfort of your own home? This is the idea behind #YoMeQuedoEnCasaFestival, a concept created by Franchejo Blázquez (@franchejo on Twitter) that went viral in a matter of hours and had the support of artists such as, Alfred García, Dani Fernández, David Otero, Diana Navarro, DVicio, Funambulista, Vega, Nil Moliner and Rozalén, among others. During the 13th, 14th and 15th of March these singers will be streaming their talent via social media, in an effort to make staying at home a little more enjoyable.

 

Quarantine Fest arose due to the cancellation of concerts around the country. It will begin on16 March and feature around thirty independent musicians who will offer stay-at-home concerts until the 27 March.

 

Blood donation

 

On 13 March the Health Department of Madrid launched an urgent appeal to the public to donate blood, as stock had dropped drastically, due to donors respecting hospital visitation restrictions. In a matter of hours after the appeal, the Department of Health and the Transfusion Centre publicly thanked the citizens of Madrid for the overwhelming response of almost 1,500 blood donors, exceeding the 900 daily blood donations that are needed under normal circumstances.

 

 

Hotels, joining the cause

 

Due to the rapid increase in coronavirus cases and the urgent need for more ICU beds to handle more severe cases, some hotel owners have made several of their hotels available to the authorities to help cope with the health emergencies caused by the outbreak. Kike Sarasola, of the Room Mate Hotel Group, was quickly joined by Abel Matutes, of the Palladium Hotel Group, and Ilunion Hotels. The Hotel Business Association of Madrid (AEHM-acronym in Spanish) has also received several offers from other hotels, offering their establishments, and is waiting to receive instructions from the authorities to see how to best cover the current health needs. In addition to the hotels in Madrid, establishments have also been offered in Malaga, Seville, Granada, Lorca, Oviedo, Lanzarote and other areas of Spain.

 

Free taxis for healthcare workers

 

Taxi drivers are also joining the cause and showing their solidarity: they announced on 13 March that taxi drivers in Madrid will transport doctors and healthcare workers who need to travel to hospitals or homes in the capital for coronavirus emergencies or even when they are off duty. The campaign, “Taxi drivers, Madrid needs you”, organised by various taxi companies, is encouraging drivers to participate and so far the response has been very positive.

 

Online teachers and more accessible culture

 

Hundreds of thousands of students have been left, until further notice, without classes. To avoid a radical halt in their learning, some teachers have already volunteered to give classes online or have made educational material available online and on social media platforms, which can be used by parents, teachers and students at home.

In addition, some authors have offered free access to their work to make the quarantine period over the next few weeks  a little easier, such as the novelist and playwright Nando López (@Nando_Lopez_), who has provided videos of several performances of his plays:

Or the writer Juan Gómez Jurado (@JuanGomezJurado on Twitter), who has released one of his novels in ebook format and reduced the price of some of his other work.

Cultural institutions such as the Prado Museum, which has had to close its doors due to the coronavirus outbreak, has also wanted to offer the public online alternatives and has intensified its activity on social media platforms, offering videos with live commentaries on the works of the great masters of painting and reminding the public of all the informative material that is available on their website for the whole family.

 

A massive response on social media from doctors

 

During the next few weeks, people should avoid going to hospitals for general consultations related to coronavirus unless they are specifically indicated to do so by medical professionals or in the case of an emergency, to avoid the risk of possible infection. With the increase in cases there has been an overwhelming response from doctors from other specialties who are volunteering on social media to attend to patients, even if this means doing so via telematic services, in order to help with consultations, queries from patients, pregnant women, people with dermatological problems or those in need of psychological assistance or support, among others. Healthcare workers are, once again, showing their enormous dedication to helping others.

 

Streaming services and online magazines to cope with confinement at home

 

In addition to streaming concerts, free access to ebooks and plays, or educational material from teachers and cultural centres, some entertainment companies are facilitating the use of their platforms to make staying at home during the next few weeks more bearable. This is the case of Movistar Plus, which has announced that its contents will be available on Movistar Lite completely free of charge until 30 April, and has also increased its children’s contents, now that schools are closed.

Televisión Española, meanwhile, has prepared a list of popular Spanish films available on its online platform, including Anacleto, Agente Secreto, Embarazados, Vivir es fácil con los ojos cerrados and Mi Gran Noche.

A similar initiative has been taken on by the Hearst publishing group, which until 1 April will offer free access to the digital versions of its 19 Spanish publications, including Cosmopolitan, Esquite, Diez Minutos, Fotogramas, Casa Diez and Super Tele.

 

A whole country applauding health workers

 

On the night of March 14, at 10:00 pm, the power of mobilization of social networks and WhatsApp was noticed when, unanimously in cities and towns of Spain, thousands and thousands of citizens came out to their balconies and windows to offer a round of applause dedicated to the health personnel.

This is a clear sign of citizen unity and of the capacity for gathering that we Spaniards can generate when we row in the same direction.

 

The solidarity of the Chinese community in Spain

 

The Chinese community also wanted to pitch in during this health crisis. Through their own initiative some of its citizens have started to help with small gestures such as distributing surgical masks to the residents of the Usera neighbourhood in Madrid, where the largest Asian population resides. The Chinese authorities have also shown their solidarity and as they did with Italy (where they sent 30 tonnes of medical supplies and a team of experts) they have announced that the next shipment of medical supplies will be to Spain.

These are just a few of the ways that the Spanish people and indeed all citizens are showing their solidarity in a time that is as difficult, as it is unprecedented in our country. There are most definitely dozens of other solidarity initiatives that have taken place or that are being organised to take place in the coming weeks, all of which deserve the highest of recognition. These gestures, big and small show that together, we can overcome even the most difficult situations.