We just finished a field trip to Tanzania in Feb 1 - March 25, and surveyed the lakes across Tanzania and the streams along the elevational gradient on Mt. Kilimanjaro. This trip is fruitful with valuable samples now returned.
Such an international field trip is also memorable due to the unique time window during which the COVID-19 epidemic was moving around globally and recognized as a pandemic by the World Health Organization on 11 March 2020. Although we were warned about the high risks for international flights, it was difficult for us to cancel this scheduled trip as it took us more than one year in preparing for. On Feb 1, we left Shanghai via Emirates flights, which were supposed to be cancelled within two days. We were keeping on hearing of the “coronovirus” screamings of locals during this trip even when we were in remote mountain regions. On March 15, Tanzania’s first case of coronavirus was reported as a 46-year-old Tanzanian woman who returned from Belgium and entered the country via Kilimanjaro International Airport, which is around 40 km away from us. Following the trip schedule, we took the flights back to Shanghai on March 24, when we learned that the Julius Nyerere International Airport was going to close in the next day and that new order was coming next day for sharp cuts in flights in and out of China to curb risk.
After 14-days quarantine in Nanjing, we feel safe again and are now in the office. We can also think about the spatial variations of coronavirus characteristics in the light of ecology rules. We now know social distancing and mask could be two of the keys to slow down the initial spread of coronavirus. I sincerely appreciate the colleagues and friends for their help and encouragement during the trips. Life is keeping on moving anyway, and stay safe.