Cordelia Tang, Toronto, ON

COVID Across Canada: Short Takes

April 28, 2020

I never thought I would be able to compare my experience in two pandemics


Cordelia Tang, director of The Shoe Project


In April 2003, I was in Beijing, China, the epicenter of SARS. My anxiety was killing me. Every night before sleep, I prayed in desperation to wake up from this nightmare. But the next day, the building still smelt like the pungent antiseptic detergent. Now I live in Canada, confronting COVID-19 that has brought the world to a halt. Yet, I do not panic as 17 years ago. Although confined at home by the social distancing rules, I am still working, cooking, baking, cleaning. I even learn French with my son and work out with my friends over Hangouts. Life is still functioning.

I guess this proves the power of knowledge. During SARS, nobody gave us suggestions on how to cope. I was reluctant to rely on the “insider source” passed on from a friend of a friend. News reports were equally questionable as they contradicted what I saw with my own eyes. My mother, who always trusted Central TV broadcasts, called from our hometown and scolded me for panicking over nothing. I felt torn. Now, it gives me peace of mind to be able to follow healthcare professionals’ suggestions and watch the news to know what is happening.


PAINTING: Nada Sesar Raffay, The Shoe Project alumna