“So verily, with the hardship, there is relief. Verily, with the hardship, there is relief” [Quran 94:5-6]
With 2019 behind us, 2020 is already testing how we work together to address critical challenges at home and across borders. Support for international cooperation is at stake precisely when strong collaboration is needed. From promoting climate change and sustainability, to preventing conflicts within and between nations, to confronting the systemic forces that create unequal societies, in 2020 we must answer the question: to what extent are we committed to facing the challenges and taking advantage of the opportunities that lie ahead, and what should be done?
There are few issues which right now Pakistan is coping with. The first one and the most important one occurred not only by COVID-19 but also many other factors is that Pakistan has experienced the highest inflation in 2020 not only relative to developed economies, but also to emerging economies,” said the April Inflation Monitor published by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP). The SBP raised interest rates to cool inflationary pressure during the year, but the high rates were counterproductive as they further increased inflation, while the private sector stopped borrowing expensive money that hinders industrial growth and service provision. January experienced high 12-year inflation at 14.6%. In response to the price increase, the SBP raised interest rates to 13.25 pc.
The second one and again the most important one to address is digital education system. The digital education system is extremely difficult to operate in low-resource settings and that there are enormous obstacles to overcome. Most households in Pakistan now have access to at least one smartphone, but for the majority of students from low-income households, especially in rural areas, the biggest limitation is the availability of data. Therefore, educational institutions are contacting the leading telecommunication companies in Pakistan and asking them if they would like to help students in this situation. Government action to make educational data plans available to low-income households could also be extremely helpful if people get access to basic internet availability and know how to use them.
Second, the literacy in general and digital literacy in particular can be a limitation for many. While high-cost schools can move to online teaching and learning, low-cost schools do not have the digital infrastructure to do so. Therefore, it is need of time to design extremely user-friendly technology and work with low-cost schools to understand its use and develop mechanisms that allow them to easily share content with their students and track progress. But again the thing is that this all process will take more than five years for implementation.
The COVID-19 pandemic affects all segments of the population and is particularly detrimental to members of these social groups in the most vulnerable situations. It continues to affect people, including people living in poverty, the elderly, people with disabilities, young people and indigenous people. Village’s preliminary evidence indicates that the poor disproportionately bear the economic and health impacts of the virus. For example, the homeless, because they cannot take refuge in a safe place, are very exposed to the danger of the virus. People without access to running water, refugees, migrants or displaced people also suffer disproportionately from both the pandemic and its consequences, whether due to limited movement, less than job opportunities, increased xenophobia, etc.
If not addressed adequately through policy, the social crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic can also increase inequality, exclusion, discrimination and global unemployment in the medium and long term. Comprehensive and universal social protection systems, where they exist, play a very lasting role in protecting workers and reducing the prevalence of poverty, as they act as automatic stabilizers. In other words, they provide basic income security at all times, thereby improving people’s ability to manage and overcome crises.
Let me explain few things which might help you all to understand this current situation more easily. Pandemics in general are not only serious public health problems, but rather cause disastrous socio-economic and political crises in infected countries. COVID-19, in addition to becoming the greatest threat to world public health of the century, is considered an indicator of inequity and lack of social progress.
As the name COVID-19 implies, “CO” means “crown”, “VI” for “virus” and “D” for disease, and 19 represents the year of its onset. Coronavirus is a single-stranded RNA virus with a diameter ranging from 80 to 120 nm. The first modern COVID-19 pandemic was reported in December 2019 in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, and most of the initial cases were related to a source of infection from a wholesale fruit market. Since then, the disease has traveled around the world rapidly and has finally affected all continents except Antarctica. It has been classified as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (World Health Organization, 2020).
The International Committee on Virus Taxonomy (ICTV) has designated Coronavirus 2 of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV-2). According to the WHO, in 2002-2003, more than 8,000 people suffered and 774 died from a virus, called SARS. In 2012, the MERS-CoV pandemic broke out, infecting more than 2,494 people and killing more than 858 lives worldwide. Coronaviruses belong to a large and diverse family of viruses. These can be classified into four genres, namely, ?-, ?-, ?- and ?. All of the aforementioned coronaviruses responsible for the global spread of the pandemic, namely SARS, MERS-CoV, and SARS-CoV-2 are ?-coronaviruses.
In addition to COVID-19, human civilization has witnessed at least five pandemics in the current century, p. H1N1 in 2009, polio in 2014, Ebola (erupted in West Africa in 2014), Zika (2016), and Ebola (Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2019). Subsequently, the COVID-19 pandemic was declared the sixth international public health emergency on January 30, 2020 by the WHO. These global pandemics have caused a large number of deaths, morbidities, and cost billions of dollars.
Compared to other diseases and their respective burdens, COVID-19 is likely to cause as much or more human suffering than other communicable diseases worldwide. Additionally, other global environmental changes such as land degradation, ozone depletion, pollution and urbanization, environmental change create an undeniable threat to our planet and health of humans.
Global warming has its roots in industrial development, with huge CO2 emissions during the industrial revolution and beyond, finally allowing the greenhouse effect to occur. To some extent, the COVID-19 can be seen as an indirect consequence of global environmental change. In addition to its devastating effects on human life, the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has the potential to significantly slow the economy not only of China, the United States or Pakistan, but also the world at large together.
Therefore, healthcare workers, governments, and the general public must show solidarity and fight shoulder to shoulder to prevent and stop the pandemic. In this article, my main objective is to highlight the impacts of COVID-19 on the environment and society, and I have want to convey one and the most important message here which is the time of need is: “Stay Home, Stay Safe”. Hope for the best this time will pass and everything will be better again. As very beautifully Allah express in Quran:
“My mercy encompasses all things” (Quran 7:156)