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This is how translators in various countries are living the coronavirus crisis

This is how translators in various countries are living the coronavirus crisis


"I live in Liaoning province in northeast China, which was not very affected by this new pandemic. The situation has been brought under control with the government's measures to block, segregate and control the flow of crowds, the distribution of material such as masks, as well as rewards and sanctions for those who manage this crisis well or badly". This is how Junbo Hou, a translator, describes his experience, a job in which teleworking is fortunately possible.

These days, as the virus advances through different countries and regions, translations are also becoming more necessary. Companies want to inform their workers, who are often located in different countries, of developments. Information is key to avoid more chaos and hysteria in times of crisis. " I was asked to translate documents related to the coronavirus for an NGO for which I decided to work as a volunteer translator," details Zibow, from Mauritius, who is part of an international translation platform.

China, where it all started

In China, the situation is now more stabilized than in Spain where the number of cases of coronavirus is growing every day.

"We all wear masks - either our own or provided by our company - at all times, and security guards control our temperature in the offices and on the streets. We keep common surfaces disinfected and before sitting at our desks we are asked to wash our hands with soap and spray a disinfectant solution on our belongings. Interpreting, conference, meeting services, except for telephone and online services, have been cancelled. We hope that everyone can be in the same situation as China very soon," stresses Luz.

More than 600 dead in a single day

However, in the opposite situation side of China is Italy. The country has recorded over 600 deaths from Covid-19 in a single day. The situation is really alarming and the translators who live or are from there are certainly worried. "The situation is really bad. Many of the events I was supposed to attend as an interpreter were cancelled and the translation industry is also experiencing a certain crisis," stresses Beatriz.

Meanwhile, Mariam regrets that the Italian government did not close everything down sooner and recommends that colleagues from other countries isolate themselves, stay at home and avoid any unnecessary social activity because "this disease spreads very quickly".

The example of South Korea

Some countries such as South Korea are being seen by other governments as a good example of what to do in the face of a pandemic like this. "People here are aware of the importance of masks and the government was fully prepared from the beginning, so the situation has been under control," says Hannie. In the same vein, Siyeon explains that "the Korean people are showing a cooperative attitude. They put on face masks and wash their hands thoroughly to prevent infection and the spread of the virus. And they are ready to stay home and work remotely if necessary."

In Spain, we have already passed the figure of 2,000 dead and 33,000 infected. And everything points to the fact that the situation could get even worse in the next few days. The government has decreed a state of alarm and people, as the days go by, are more aware of the importance of confinement.

Supermarkets emptied and work reduced

Rachel lives in Toledo and confesses that people are really worried. She explains that, as in other places, in some shops and supermarkets you can see empty shelves and nobody talks about anything but the coronavirus. "All my daughter's activities have been cancelled and my mother had a trip planned, but she will have to wait because they have banned travel. And, from a professional point of view, I have started receiving projects to translate content related to the coronavirus. I think we are starting with the advantage that many of us are already used to working remotely and have the ability to work with clients from all over the world. I hope things get back to normal very soon," she explains.

Soraya lives with her partner in Madrid and has been suffering from a slight fever, nasal congestion and cough, but she says both are now well. She has seen a drop in the amount of work she has recently, especially as she works mainly for Italian clients. But she hopes, like many others, that the situation will return to normal as soon as possible. And she recalls that "it's always better to prevent than to cure".

We wish all the best to our fellow translators and everyone else in this time of concern. Work from home if you can, but most of all, stay safe.

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