What have we learned from the COVID-19 Pandemic so far?
~ Hiba Ishaq
Coronavirus, a non-living microorganism, which spearheaded its spread from the Wuhan city in China, has become a living threat to the world today. This virus has infected more than 28 lakh people worldwide and more than 1,90,000 people have died so far. Since there is no cure, no vaccination for this disease, the world nations have considered preventive strategies like nation-wide lockdown, self-isolation, quarantining and staying indoors to control the pandemic to some extent. This remains the only preventive solution that is in our hands right now, but, this has changed the course and pace by which the world was entering 2020. To put it simply, the world has stopped. The growing technology, interconnectedness and booms in economy and entertainment – all have come to a halt today. All multinational companies, big offices, markets, shops are shut down and the government of all nations have enforced a lockdown where work from home and online classes have become the norm. We all entered 2020 in haste, where competition, moving forward and ahead had become important and now, staying at home has given us a time to stop, think and reflect. Reflect at the world, the people around and also on ourselves as individuals.
Here are few things that the outbreak of COVID-19 has taught us:
Firstly, hygiene and health have become important. We’ve all heard the phrase ‘prevention is better than cure’, and since coronavirus lacks cure, staying hygienic is the only preventive measure we can take as an individual that can, to some extent, prevent us from being affected. We now have people stressing on washing hands thoroughly time and again and there are even videos of how to wash hands properly. This tells us that we were not serious about our health and hygiene. We had been busy earning a fulfilled life with no prospect of our health. Along with this, the government did not invest their time and money on the health and that reflects in the lack of hospital beds, slow testing speed and shortage of doctors, we are facing today. In this time, we can start to invest our energy on health as being the most important component of our life and the sector (health sector) that provides us with those facilities has to be given more attention.
Secondly, respect for the service class. Since we all are staying at home, looking after ourselves, playing our part to save the world, there is one sector that is out and about, performing their duty to save the world. Doctors, scientists, researchers are still up all day and night, in hospitals and labs, fighting the virus. Service class, here, also includes all those people who still do their job because they fall under ‘essential duties’. This ‘reflection time’ gives us time to think about how we take the service class for granted. The rich capitalist class that once had all power and wealth in their hands are just as helpless as we are and today our heroes and soldiers are the service class people. We should also take this time to think about the people who can’t afford the luxury and the privilege to stay at home. The daily wage workers and labourers are at risk in these times because neither do they have a shelter for comfort nor money to feed their stomach. In India, as I am writing, these workers are walking 100km or more to reach some sheltered destination.
This is a time to think about the fact that even though the virus is not discriminating between the rich and the poor, the poor will be severely affected, if not by virus then by hunger or lack of shelter. One can also reflect on the origin and the spread of the virus, which is interesting (in a scary way), that started in a city in China and made its way to sweep the elderly population in Italy and to a shortage of toilet papers in the USA – the interconnectedness of the world is fascinating as much as it is threatening.
Lastly, our only source of information and entertainment these days is the internet. Work from home, online classes, Netflix, YouTube etc. is only possible because we have access to the internet. So is the internet still a luxury in a pandemic 2020? Clearly not. Internet over a decade has become a necessity, a basic need for any individual, not just for entertainment purposes but also information and for staying updated. This reflection is also with respect to the people in the conflict zone of Kashmir, who have been denied access to the internet for over 5 months now. Similarly, the lockdowns and shutdowns, that the whole world is experiencing now, are no new to the conflict zones like Palestine, Gaza, Syria and Kashmir. This in no way means is juxtaposition, but a mere reflection, of what we are going through right now may not be new to many in the world.
To conclude this article, the outbreak of coronavirus has brought the world not just to a halt but also together. It has affected all the countries of the world and we are performing our duties to protect the world from collapsing. No one expected that everything in the world would stop, the busiest and the most crowded places would be empty, but, here we are staying at home reflecting at the past while hoping for a better, safer and healthier tomorrow.