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9 April

OV News from Around the World

Coronavirus is having an impact around the world with many countries experiencing lockdown and a change to daily life for many of us. Here are some stories from OVs across the world on how they are adapting in these uncertain times from Ian in the UK, Joanna in Austria, Tim in Japan and Abbas in the USA. If you live abroad and would like to share your story please do let us know at


UK: Ian Smith (Cr 73-78)

A strange time for everyone. As primary carer for my disabled wife, who is extremely vulnerable, we have been in isolation for quite a while.

Luckily an improved broadband connection last year means I have been able to carry on my role as Chair of Bishop Fleming from home. I’ve never had to tidy my bedroom/my office for a Board meeting before.

View from OV Ian Smith's home looking over field with sheep and lambs

As well as more formal meetings that has included plenty of virtual coffees and end of week drinks with some of our team.

We are very lucky living on a farm in the Teme Valley, there are worse places to be in isolation!



OV Joanna Reiterer in Austria wearing mask during self-isolation

Austria: Joanna Reiterer (Cl 98-05)

We went into social distancing measures in Austria about a week earlier than the UK and it felt very orderly, with minimal panic buying (apart from toilet roll…. and yeast – which is still hard to come by). I’ve been impressed throughout with the clear information from the media and the government.

This week the wearing of masks in shops became compulsory and that feels different somehow. I really notice that with a mask on, many people avoid eye contact as well.

I’m on maternity leave with our 9 month old at the moment and not being able to fly back to the UK or have visits from family makes living abroad seems like more of a significant decision than it did 18 months ago when we moved!

I’m applying for jobs as a doctor here, and it certainly wasn’t the working atmosphere I was expecting to go into when starting to work in a new country. But we are grateful to be safe and well supported.


Japan: Tim Minton OBE (Ch 69-76)

Photo from OV Tim Minton- Unthinkably deserted park in Tokyo with cherry trees in full bloom

Photo: Unthinkably deserted park in Tokyo with cherry trees in full bloom

Greetings from Tokyo, where the government has only just declared a state of emergency (on April 7th), and this for only seven of the country’s 47 prefectures. Lockdowns of the kind seen in the UK and elsewhere are not part of the equation, though, and because most companies are ill equipped to have their employees work from home, large numbers of people are still taking trains into work every day.

What they have not been doing much of since concerns over the new coronavirus started growing in early February, however, is socialising with their colleagues after work, thanks to the concept of jishuku (self-restraint). This is something that is ingrained in the Japanese psyche because of the natural disasters that regularly befall the country: you shouldn’t be partying when people somewhere else in the country have lost their homes or even lives to an earthquake or typhoon. And it is probably this spirit of self-restraint, along with the fact that the Japanese are nowhere near as tactile as Europeans, that has kept the infection rate here relatively low so far. But it is now increasing rapidly, and I am certainly not optimistic about the coming months.


USA: Abbas Kazerooni (Ch 91-96) OV Abbas Kazerooni working from home

Here in CA we are on full quarantine unless your job is deemed essential. As a lawyer my job is on the list of jobs exempted as essential; but I have nevertheless asked all my staff to work remotely. I only go into the office to get mail and/or perform necessary duties mandated by the courts.

I am staying inside the house for the vast majority of the week (probably close to 6.5 days a week at the moment).

I am actually more busy than usual because I have to manage the firm remotely and I am receiving exponentially more emails than usual.

Being busy is good otherwise I would be going insane. Right now I am only half way there but grateful that I am healthy.

I hope that everyone is well and healthy.