Dr. Marilena tell us about yourself ?
Hi! My name is Dr Marilena Elpidorou and I am a molecular biologist/geneticist. I studied BSc Biomedical Sciences at UCL and then completed my PhD in Molecular Medicine at the University of Leeds. Since December 2018, I have been employed by the University of Leeds as a postdoctoral research fellow working on brain cancer. After 9 years in the UK, I decided to move back to Cyprus and continue my career in my home country.
How did the news of the first Cyprus measures find you?
As I mentioned, I was planning my relocation since February. I had given my resignation letter and rental agreement notice and I was all ready to move at the end of March. When hearing the first news from the Cyprus government for closing the boarders on the 16th of March I panicked. I instantly went online to look for a flight but as you can imagine there was not a single flight available from any UK airport! Then they announced that you can still fly back until the 21st of March but you need a letter from a medical provider that you are Covid-19 negative; something that is impossible to get in the UK (and possibly in many other EU countries as things stand). During that time, my return to Cyprus seemed unachievable. I was of course very stressed and worried as I was going to be stuck in England unemployed and without a flat, for an unknown period of time as everything was uncertain (and still is!) and the news kept changing day after day.
What actions did you decide to take?
Well, as I said, my first action was to go on Skyscanner and look for a flight from any airport in the UK. That was a dead-end as there was no longer any commercial flights available. Meanwhile, I was also calling the NHS centers recommended by the Cyprus government in order to obtain the necessary certificate (Covid-19 negative) that will allow me to enter Cyprus. The outcome of that was “We are sorry but we can’t provide that certificate for you”. At that point I thought that I won’t be returning to Cyprus anytime soon. Thankfully, some flights were arranged by the government and I managed to get their approval to board one of these flights, after explaining my situation. It was very stressful, and I was probably on the phone for several hours every day but in the end I managed to return home. At this point I would like to say a big thank you to the helpful gentleman that helped me get the approval through the Embassy of Cyprus.
What are you doing now?
Quarantine can get a bit boring at times, as we can’t leave this hotel room, but we all know it is for the greater good and we are all happy to stay in quarantine to prevent the spread of this virus.
Currently I am in quarantine, at Atlantica Oasis hotel in Limassol. We came here on the 21st of March and I am now on quarantine day 12. The staff at the hotel are really helpful and they are providing us with everything we need. We get breakfast, lunch and dinner delivered outside the door at certain times during the day. We also have certain times that we leave our rubbish outside the door for collection and times when we return towels and bedsheets to get clean ones. It’s like a small community and we are really thankful for everything. Representatives from the ministry of health have also been calling us to check if we are all okay. Nurses have also visited us once to check our temperature. Quarantine can get a bit boring at times, as we can’t leave this hotel room, but we all know it is for the greater good and we are all happy to stay in quarantine to prevent the spread of this virus.
How do you keep your mind busy?
I tried to do different things, so I don’t get bored. Of course, watching movies and series takes up a big part of my time here. As a scientist, I am also interested in all the research updates on Covid-19, so I have been reading research papers too. I also brought a cross-stich with me to do, and it’s almost done! Lastly, I have made friends with my neighbors and we chat (and sometimes even sing) from our balconies.
Do you do some form of exercise?
Yes, I try to do a workout 3-4 times a week. I also do yoga in the mornings to relax and destress. I find it very useful during these times.
Tell us something positive you have got out of this entire situation?
That we are now learning to appreciate the small things in life, like going for a walk or meeting up with friends. Basically appreciating freedom, that we all took for granted! Also, with so much free time now, I really admire people who take this opportunity and turn it into something creative and productive.
What have you missed the most?
I was looking forward to coming back to Cyprus and going for a walk by the sea. Also, visiting my grandma. When this is all over, these will be my priorities.
What have you appreciated more?
Life in general. How things can change from one day to the next. How the whole world needs to work together to overcome this. And most importantly our health!
What will your prioritize when all of this is over?
I look forward to starting my new chapter in Cyprus, and see all my friends and family that I have really missed.
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