"Looks like we are going back to a completely different planet." These were the words of astronaut Jessica Meir as she prepared to leave the International Space Station after seven months in April 2020. The World Health Organization had declared the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic on 11 March 2020 not long before her descent back to Earth. That same week on Friday 13 March 2020, as Swiss borders closed, we were locking up our offices, handing out the few laptops available, moving to our homes and to rapidly installed online workspaces ahead of the full lockdown the following week.
We had been watching the news since mid-January through February as cases started to be reported from China and East Asia, then North America, Oceania and Europe in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, spreading to North Africa, the Middle East and South America. We grew increasingly uneasy as the number of COVID-19 infections, hospitalisations and deaths climbed and the virus came closer. The first cases identified in most countries were travellers bringing the virus with them with cases confirmed in 121 countries by 13 March 2020.