I do appreciate and agree with what medical researchers are urging us to do, in terms of abiding to safety and health instructions. So, I shall not dwell anymore on how important it is to stay safe and follow the instructions that are issued by our governments, but I will be rather looking at the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) from another preservice towards a better life. In other words, the C-19 has given us, and is still giving us, a chance for a new type of life - a better one. Following are some of the positive changes that have swept across sectors, while being so sure there are a lot more that perhaps you would like to share.
The Health Sector: When C-19 was declared a global pandemic, all eyes were desperately turned to health scientists, to learn more about what has hit us, waiting for them to waive a magic wand with a super cure pill, before realizing how little they knew - at first, and how long results need, and how little were our countries prepared with pandemic contingency plans. Needless to say, we felt the importance of spending less on warfare and more on curing viral pandemics and cancer. Using tele-health, I myself had several sessions distantly with my physicians. Of course when it is time for examinations one has to go in person, but a lot was accomplished by tele- health conferencing. As for Universal insurance coverage – well, it has never been more important.
The Environment: Our globe has finally breathed, indeed !! Never ever has the environment been serviced in a better way. Carbon emissions declined. In China, the country with the world’s biggest carbon footprint, emissions were cut by a quarter. The decrease has led to reports of cleaner air and waterways in locations across the world. Venice waterways are cleaner and clearer than they have been - for years - as the lockdown has halted traffic in the usually busy canals. Schools of fish started to appear.
Education is one of the most vital sectors that went online in many countries. When Ministries were faced with the distant learning option, even though many of them were quite unprepared and hadn’t considered it seriously, jumped in, rallied their resources and succeeded in going online to reach most of - if not all of their students. They backed this up with regulations compelling students to commit to their online attendance. Students responded. I have seen a live example in Jordan, as everything went online almost overnight. It was miraculous and - it was DONE. Why wasn’t it done before? Because we didn’t really believe in ourselves and our systems.
The ICT infrastructure has never been more important because it seems to be the basis of everything; it has helped us overcome so many obstacles. Technology is needed to find cures and vaccinations, alongside innovative research and development. It is being used by media and social media to give updates and breaking news as the entire globe tuned onto their social media, and one sector after the other opted for technology-based solutions to save itself. The internet is improving. Internet usage has rocketed under lockdown up 25 per cent in major cities according to Cloudflare. The sudden increase in demand is forcing rapid upgrades to internet servers and services. Netflix is installing more servers. Mobile data packages are cheaper or even free, they are providing easier entertainment more than ever before for those stuck at home. Professional trainers and normally closed-up resources are now free. They started sharing more of what used to be privileged information. Never have I imagined that I’m getting free access to precious training courses. Movie Stars opened up their homes and broadcasted live sessions from the privacy of their homes, broadcasting their corona-related messages.
Hygiene: Personal hygiene, public restrooms and supermarkets became more focused on, as new rules applied leading to new behavioural changes that have started to emerge. Airlines are inventing new innovative ways to prevent spread of diseases using jets of air around seats.
The Tourism sector started stressing on cleanliness, sterilization and hygiene. Post Corona hospitality instructions became firmer with regular inspections and penalties and on when it comes to transport: We reduced traffic, saving oil and applying energy efficiency. People started to think wisely before using their cars with attempts to save money. Some countries applied different traffic restrictions.
Post COVID-19 sales, was a bit of a catastrophe when it came to littering of masks and gloves. Even though we boosted sales of masks and sterilizers making some companies richer overnight, we still have to look for natural alternatives, such as masks from reused fabrics, or washable gloves or other greener solutions for sterilizing – and most importantly, the proper disposal off gloves and masks after using them.
Our working habits have changed, don’t you agree? we became more appreciative of essential workers: Supermarket cashiers, shelf-stackers and delivery drivers became heroes. Suddenly, these often low-paid workers are getting the appreciation they deserve; as the entire world applauding the medical staff. There were changes in our working habits: People are achieving more in less time and with less effort and cost - where and when it is possible.
Social distancing has really helped us get rid of those huge costly wedding ceremonies and saving money for the newlyweds to start their new lives, we are spending less on ceremonies and opting for more outdoor events and open spaces. Community spirits have never been any better. Despite the fact that most people are shut away in their homes, many communities have never been closer. People started to care and help each other, like getting prescriptions for the elderly, or doing singalongs, or praying for each other, as we all knelt down on our knees, and prayed for Italy - we all prayed together.
Religions: I normally steer away from such discussion, but as modern life takes us away from our religious values, replacing what God commanded with over-drinking and committing sins, which sadly is being echoed by media and TV industries - but have you not noticed how when calamity first hit the globe, people started praying and going back to God …this is something to hold on to - as we all realize and confess when things really get out of hand, humans turn back to God.
We became the “Zoom” nation, as Zoom – and other emerging platforms made us closer. Groups started discussing arts and show-casing treasures in museums as we gained new access to culture without having to travel. Many other groups started meeting to discuss global and national issues or business matters.
Families: People are more in touch with friends and family. They are closer together, but sadly, the lockdown gave leeway to - and shed light on: violence, family violence which soared in some areas because of the lockdown, this is something we have to acknowledge and deal with.
Habits are changing: People are sleeping better. Data from Fitbit users in 6 US cities show that people are getting more sleep each night during the coronavirus lockdown.
There is a new break in routine, it is time to restructure life. Psychology shows that people are more open to habit changes at times of upheaval, so the COVID-19 lockdown is a good window for making lifestyle changes.
Once again, I cannot stress enough on the importance of heeding our governments’ safety and health instructions, hope the world will never see another pandemic – ever again, and if ‘God Forbid’ it were to re-occur in the future, I hope that the globe would have in place sturdy ‘health’ defence systems and contingency plans.