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COVID-19: Lessons from the virus

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Raja Khalid Shabbir

Change is on its way. The coronavirus pandemic has ushered in a new era. Drastic cerebral and lifestyle modifications are in order to leave the pre-corona life and enter the never experienced post-virus world.
As we work on this transformation, we must learn from lessons left by the novel virus.
Europe has for long been viewed as the golden child and role model society for the world. This pandemic debunked this notion. Hundreds of violent protesters, chanting “the virus does not exist”, took to streets in Berlin, Rome, Zurich, London, Paris and across America. Many anti-mask and anti-social distancing rallies in the developed world ended in violence and police arrests.
In May, when Covid-19 was no less than a merciless killer, hundreds of demonstrators – some armed – gathered and even entered the Michigan state capitol building, to protest against the state’s stay-at-home orders. What was worse was that the President of the world’s most powerful country tweeted “LIBERATE MICHIGAN” in support of the angry mob.
It’s a long way to go before we can achieve the status of a civilised society – before we start to choose love and compassion over violence and hate.
Secondly, this pandemic has highlighted the importance of healthcare professionals, be they ambulance drivers, paramedics, nurses, doctors or hospital staff. These people selflessly fought an invisible enemy not letting the risk of infecting their families come between them and their work.
How limited the resources were is a horror story as many front-liners used shoe covers as face masks and were forced to leave critically ill patients to die in hospital lobbies because there were no vacant hospital beds and medical supplies.
Perhaps it’s time to review our policies, redo our “who and what is important” list and equip our healthcare sector with tools necessary to prevent similar future disasters.
Thirdly, the virus taught us that personal hygiene can and should be maintained. It made us realise that we have been washing our hands wrong all along. WHO and CDC, through illustrations, have shown the step-by-step way of washing hands properly.
The fear and stigma of Covid-19 is far bigger than our belief systems. Whether we believe in the pandemic or not, meticulous hand washing has become a part of our lives and this will protect us from many infectious bugs other than the deadly coronavirus.
Fourthly, lockdown, of various degrees, was imposed around the world to counter the Covid threat. Some countries completely closed down their cities whereas some not-so-smart individuals played with the smarter version of the lockdown. Whatever the case, the result was the same: cessation of human activity gave nature some breathing space. Many cities reported an improved air quality index and reduced CO2 emission which allowed us to experience cooler weather. Wildlife took to empty streets, like the Sika deer in Japan, who were seen roaming far away from their usual grazing grounds.
We need to question and correct our undue interference with nature. Is there no stopping us? Is there no antidote to our destructive capabilities?
Fifthly, this virus has made us realise that many jobs can be done from our homes. This would be beneficial for the ecosystem as unnecessary fuel consumption of fuel would decrease. In turn, the overall burden on our economy would be reduced.
Lastly, being wealthy does not provide one with an immunity shield. The virus indiscriminately took lives of the rich and the poor, young and old, men and women. The most valuable lesson this pandemic left us is of unity and cohesion. If we unite ourselves, uphold humanity and work towards a common goal, only then can we expect to find ourselves in a better position the next time around.-Courtesy: The Express Tribune