covid19 metro

(Max Anderson, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Douglas Broom, Senior Writer, Formative Content

  • COVID-19 continues to spread – but it’s bringing out the best in people across the globe.
  • Volunteers are looking out for elderly and vulnerable neighbours.
  • Across Europe, people are singing to one another to keep spirits up as social distancing and self-isolation become the norm.

When the Chinese city of Wuhan was locked down, residents opened their windows to shout messages of support for their neighbours and beloved city.


Now Italians are taking to their balconies to sing patriotic and uplifting songs. From Turin in the north to Sicily in the south, people are using social media to organize balcony-singing flash mobs, demonstrating their support for one another despite being stuck in their homes.

And as COVID-19 continues to spread, so are such displays of social solidarity.

In Spain, a prime ministerial TV broadcast announcing a nationwide lockdown and praising the efforts of health workers was followed by people across the country opening their windows to applaud and call out “Viva los medicos” – long live doctors.

Number of coronavirus deaths by country as of March 15 2020.
Image: Statista

Neighbourhood watch

Where people are free to provide practical help, community groups are mobilizing to deliver supplies to elderly people and other vulnerable groups that have been advised to stay indoors to minimize the risk of infection.

In Seville, Spain, meanwhile, a fitness instructor held an exercise class for people quarantined in their homes, leading it from the roof of a nearby apartment block where they could all see and follow his moves.

Reaching out

As panic-buying strips the shelves in many stores around the world, Australian retailer Woolworths has announced it will open its stores an hour early to allow elderly and vulnerable people to shop in seclusion so to avoid the risk of cross-infection.

UK grocery chain Iceland has taken a similar decision, saying its Belfast city centre shop will open an hour earlier than usual exclusively for older shoppers. Also in Northern Ireland, the Portaferry Hotel and a local coffee shop have said they will deliver food to people unable to leave their homes.

The owners of a corner shop in Stenhousemuir, Scotland are giving free COVID-19 kits to their elderly neighbours to help protect them from the virus. The kits contain sanitizers, hand wash and face masks.

And a couple in Cornwall, UK, have distributed postcards to elderly neighbours inviting them to get in touch, while offering help with shopping, posting mail and collecting medical supplies. In Manchester, UK, 2,000 people responded in two days to a Facebook appeal for volunteers to help vulnerable people through the crisis.

‘Don’t panic’

America’s Got Talent finalist Ndlovu Youth Choir from South Africa set the World Health Organization’s (WHO) coronavirus advice to music in their song “Don’t panic: We’ve got this”.

WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus boosted its audience by sharing the video on Twitter. He commented: “Here is another beautiful way to share public health advice on #COVID19. Keep up the spirit of solidarity!”