Coronavirus, business travel concerns hit home

Mohammed Barakat, father of Purbalite Sports Editor Lena Barakat, is currently overseas.

Photo via Lena Barakat

Mohammed Barakat, father of Purbalite Sports Editor Lena Barakat, is currently overseas.

By Lena Barakat, Baldwin High School - PA

Many people have a sense that the coronavirus may soon impact their families, but mine is already facing the effects of this frightening global pandemic. 

My father, who works in international business, may be stuck abroad longer than expected. 

Just a few weeks before the crisis really exploded, he planned a business trip overseas to Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, and the Republic of North Macedonia. 

He’s currently working at an international bodybuilding competition in Egypt, where people from all over the world are gathering in a small convention center — which is beginning to sound like a recipe for disaster. 

I talked to him on Thursday, and he said he does not have any symptoms.

Egypt now has reported 80 confirmed cases of the virus and one death. But with the ease that the disease spreads, there are probably more cases. This is all the more worrisome seeing that Egypt lacks the infrastructure that America has to contain the virus.

My family, meanwhile, is unsure of what challenges we may face in my father’s return to the United States. 

Will my father be quarantined when he returns to America? Will I get to see him? Even beyond the virus, it is the uncertainty that makes us the most fearful. 

As of right now, my father has cancelled his trips to Macedonia and Tunisia and plans to fly back to America on Sunday. But are those plans enough to save him from contracting the virus and avoiding any obstacles that may arise on his path back to the United States?

It is frightening that something that at first seemed as simple as the flu is having worldwide implications on people from all walks of life. 

Although a lot of people have downplayed the severity of this global pandemic, ultimately it is imperative that we realize the extremity of the situation because real people’s lives are at stake. 

We, as a society, need to treat this as the true pandemic that it is, or it will spiral out of control very soon. 

This story was originally published on Purbalite on March 13, 2020.