COVID-19 is considered as the most crucial global health calamity of the century and the greatest challenge that humankind has faced since the Second World War. However, we are standing at a juncture, where along with this public health crisis, we also have to get through the change in our lifestyle that came along with the pandemic.
In December 2019, a new infectious respiratory disease emerged in Wuhan, the capital city of Hubei Province in China. The World Health Organization (WHO) named the new virus as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), and the disease caused by the virus was called coronavirus disease (COVID-19). As far as the history of human civilization is concerned there have been instances of severe outbreaks of diseases caused by a number of viruses. The coronavirus outbreak of 2019 has progressed to the status of a global pandemic, with countries across the seven continents adversely affected and the number of human cases exceeding two million. As for now, there are no reports of any clinically approved drugs or vaccines, though some countries are trying to create one. COVID-19 has rapidly spread around the world, posing enormous health, economic and social challenges to the entire human population. Almost all nations are struggling to slow down the transmission of the disease by testing and treating patients, putting their country in lock down and maintaining social distancing.
As the forced lockdown compels humanity to ponder over the choices made in the past few decades, a thread that stands out universally is that human lives are fragile. The things that we took for granted were easily snatched away from our hands. The lockdown also led to the closure of schools which affected the education of more than one 1.5 billion children and youth worldwide. This has widened the learning gap between children from lower income and higher income families. While the privileged have access to online classes and lectures through technology, many are not capable of doing so. Online classes and lectures have been useful but the element of face-to-face interaction between students and teachers is missing even in this age of digitization.
With the ever growing number of cases and no available vaccine, the treatment is primarily symptomatic for those affected and preventative for those at risk. Most countries have taken action to curtail the spread of COVID-19 through measures such as lockdowns, social distancing and voluntary self-isolation. Whilst necessary, such measures and the disease itself, may have an adverse impact on mental health. In view of research from previous pandemic crises, it is known that such situations are likely to increase stress levels and have negative psychiatric effects. The impact is likely to be felt by the general public, sufferers of COVID-19, their families and friends, persons with pre-existing mental health conditions and healthcare workers. Apart from this, COVID-19 has severely demobilized the global economy. In order to restrict further transmission of the disease in the community, many of the affected countries have decided to undergo complete lock down. In almost all the COVID-19 stricken countries, entire educational, commercial, sports and spiritual institutions are closed. Industries are suffering a lot as many of these, excepting those related to essential amenities, are closed for a long time in many countries. People belonging to the tourism and transportation industry are also facing utmost difficulties. Production level has gone very low. The Economies of many powerful countries are now facing the threat of high inflation and increasing unemployment.
Meanwhile, efforts to restrict transmission of the SARS-CoV-2, by restricting the movement have had an outstanding environmental effect. Due to non-functioning of industries, industrial waste emission has decreased to a large extent. Vehicles are hardly found on the roads resulting in zero emission of green-house gases and toxic particles in the environment. Due to lesser demand for power in industries, use of fossil fuels or conventional energy sources have been lowered considerably. Ecosystems are being greatly recovered and pollution levels have come down. Environment change is one of the biggest and most vital challenges of the 21st century. In spite of all their efforts to restore nature during the last few decades, humans could only move a few steps forward. But during the last few months, consequences of the pandemic have successfully recovered the environment to a large extent that should definitely set a positive impact on global climate change.
Like all the preceding disasters on the earth, let all be optimistic enough that, human beings will definitely win over the pandemic in due course of time, but they should know the limits to which they can thrust nature, before it is too late. This virus has taught humans that no matter how many technological advances we achieve, we are still a tiny insignificant speck in front of nature.
Ishan Kalhans is a student pursuing History from Jamia Millia Islamia.
Edited by: Nuzhat Khan
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the views of The Jamia Review or its members.