The origin of the word ‘quarantine’ comes from the Italian ‘Forty Days’ (quaranta giorni). In the Netherlands the official lockdown measures started March 15th, which means we have passed the 50-day mark (today is day 55 of the lockdown measures to be exact).
The ‘40 days’ comes from the plague epidemic in the 14th century. Ships in the harbours had to be in ‘quarantine’ (a medical term) for 40 days – after which it was safe to leave the ship and the sailors could mingle amongst the population. Back to the current situation: this actually means we are in cinquantine (‘50 days’) now rather than in quarantine.NCC 2020 & SARS 2003
“Have we taken up the opportunity to learn and explore – and come out of this differently? Better?”
March 15th is not ‘just a date’ – from many viewpoints. March 15+16 had been on our radar for almost two years: as this was supposed to host one of the largest contact lens meetings in the world here in the Netherlands: NCC 2020.
Dozens of speakers from all over the world were supposed to come to Veldhoven for this biennial event, together with 1600-1800 expected delegates. A huge anti-climax, from meeting 1600+ friends in a weekend, to not even be able to go for a simple dinner with closest friends.
This wasn’t the first time, though, that an eye-care meeting was postponed or cancelled: The Global Orthokeratology Symposium (GOS) was supposed to be held in Toronto in 2003. This may have been the 1st Contact Lens Meeting that was cancelled because of a virus. That didn’t stop the development of the modality though. The first GOS meeting, and pretty much the unofficial inauguration of the modality, was held in August 2002 - just one year prior. Despite the temporary ‘quarantine’ of the modality because of the postponement of this 2nd meeting in 2002, ‘the ship had sailed’ – it departed the harbour with unknown destination. It sailed, and after the first initial successful take-off it continued with pretty favourable winds. It was not until the effects of myopia progression reduction became visible though, that the outlook from the crow’s nest on the potential of orthokeratology turned into a good breeze.
Happy New Normal!
Could this current quarantine – excuse me, cinquantine – be a blow to the development of this modality, or other (new) contact lens modalities? I doubt it. The biggest difference between now and 2003 is that e-learning has spurred: there seems to be more education than ever available online. And ECPs potentially have the time to actually ‘dig in’ and explore new horizons, such as myopia controlling effects of lenses.
It is sometimes hard to stay positive in this corona-era, but there are some sparkles of light. While I see that my kids, and also some of the students I work with, miss out on traditional schooling, I also see there is room and opportunity to explore, experience and develop themselves in new and, so far, undiscovered territory. We need to give ourselves the space to ‘learn and play’ in this era.
“Let me propose a toast: to a Happy New Normal”
The lockdown measures in parts of Europe are loosening up as we speak. Great news of course. I do wonder though, while we are heading for a new world: what will that look like? Have we learned anything? Have we taken the opportunity to learn and explore – and come out of this differently? Will it be better? I can only hope for that. So, on this note: let me propose a toast: to a Happy New Normal! Eef@online_Cinquantine
This series Eef@online series is kindly supported by an educational grant from Contamac