Donald Dinnie, Director, Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa Inc
Soon after the WHO[ii] declared COVID-19 a pandemic, and the declaration of the National Disaster, there was an outbreak of legal[iii] and other publications, some more helpful than others, dealing with COVID-19, the law, the end of the world, and surviving the Coronavirus.
The law does not hold all the answers. You could seek guidance from a letter supposedly written by F. Scott Fitzgerald (no, not really) “Letter from Quarantine” [iv]
It was a limpid dreary day, hung as in a basket from a single dull star. I thank you for your letter. Outside, I perceive what may be a collection of fallen leaves tussling against a trash can. It rings like jazz to my ears. The streets are that empty. It seems as though the bulk of the city has retreated to their quarters, rightfully so. At this time, it seems very poignant to avoid all public spaces. Even the bars, as I told Hemingway, but to that he punched me in the stomach, to which I asked if he had washed his hands. He hadn’t. He is much the denier, that one. Why, he considers the virus to be just influenza. I’m curious of his sources.
The officials have alerted us to ensure we have a month’s worth of necessities. Zelda and I have stocked up on red wine, whiskey, rum, vermouth, absinthe, white wine, sherry, gin, and lord, if we need it, brandy. Please pray for us.”
More cerebral and uplifting is the writing of Catherine M. O’Meara, published on 16 March 2020:
“In the Time of Pandemic 
And the people stayed home.
And they read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still.
And they listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed.
And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.”
As English scholar James Ward points out, it was not idiotic young love that brought down the star-crossed lovers in the Bard’s most famous tragic romance, but a fulfilment of Mercutio’s dying curse, “a plague on both your houses”, because Friar Laurence was not able to get his letter (explaining the fake-death plot) delivered to Romeo, due to the messengers’ fear of illness. They would not deliver it, “so fearful were they of infection.”
Apparently Shakespeare also wrote sonnets while stuck at home during a plague
quarantine. Working from home had its perks back then too.
If you’re done watching the 2011 film Contagion and have moved on to Stephen King’s plague thriller The Stand, bear in mind that King recently tweeted “No, coronavirus is NOT like THE STAND. It’s not anywhere near as serous. It’s eminently survivable.
For a more existentialist view on pandemics get a copy of La Pest [vi] (once bookshops reopen) by Albert Camus.
And finally if none of the above is attractive, or, if all else fails, sing! 
“Some things in life are bad
They can really make you mad
Other things just make you swear and curse
When you’re chewing on life’s gristle
Don’t grumble, give a whistle
And this’ll help things turn out for the best
And always look on the bright side of life
Always look on the light side of life of life
If life seems jolly rotten
There’s something you’ve forgotten
And that’s to laugh and smile and dance and sing
When you’re feeling in the dumps
Don’t be silly chumps
Just purse your lips and whistle, that’s the thing
And always look on the bright side of life
Always look on the right side of life …”
[i] If you are both a classicist and fan of Asterix & Obelix with a suitably comprehensive collection of their adventures, you can spend your time identifying pandemic puns in the stories. Coronavirus is a real character. He is a Roman champion chariot driver in Asterix and the Chariot Race. The character is a caricature of Alain Proust. Sadly there appears to be no Pandemix. If you find such a character let me know. No doubt the next edition will feature a villain called Pandemix with a side-kick, Epidemix. There is a Bacteria, first appearing in Asterix and Spain, the wife of Unhygienix. . Unhygienix is the village fishmonger who obviously does not sing “Felix Natalis!”* twice while washing his hands. There is also Adrenalin, Vercingetorix’s teenage daughter featured in Asterix and the Chieftain’s Daughter.
[ii] The World Health Organisation, not to be confused with The Who, who strangely do not appear to have produced any pandemic related songs. The Kiffness have released a Covid-19 song “Please Stay Home South Africa” which includes the memorable lyrics “Doesn’t take a lot to get infected my bru; if you go jolling with 100 okes, you’ll probably catch it too.”
[iii] The writer is not innocent in this regard.
[iv] My thanks to Patrick Bracher and Michael Chronis for drawing my attention to this letter purportedly written by F. Scott Fitzgerald while under quarantine during the Spanish Influenza outbreak in 1920. Unfortunately, it is not real and is a parody letter recently written by Nick Farriella. It is still fun.
[ 5 ] The word stems from both the Latin Pandemus and from the Greek Pandemos – pertaining to all people. The word was first used in the 1660’s. Strangely then and even two centuries later in 1828 epidemic and pandemic were listed as synonymous terms. When the 1889 Influenza Pandemic appeared the word gained more traction and was soon in general use. By 1918 Pandemic had become virtually a household word.
[vi] The Plague published in French in 1947 and in English in 1948. It tells the story of a plague sweeping the French Algerian city of Oran and explores the nature of destiny and the human condition. It is apparently based on the cholera epidemic that killed a large percentage of Oran’s population in 1849. The novel is set in the 1940’s and can also be read as an allegoric treatment of the French resistance to Nazi occupation during the Second World War.
[ 6 ] Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” was written by Eric Idle of Monty Python. It first featured in Monty Python’s Life of Brain. It is written in the British music hall tradition. It reached no 3 on the UK Singles Charts in 1991. *Latin for “Happy Birthday”, but you knew that.