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COVID-19: A fight today, lesson for tomorrow – 1

‘Even after the darkest night, the sun will rise again’.A new morning with new hopes, new dreams and desires, new happiness and new beginnings. The big, immensely populated world today is in the clutches of a small, tiny virus – the Corona. It has spread across the world in a few months, leading to the death of thousands and the fate of rest of the people is uncertain. As said by the UN Secretary General, Amina J. Mohammad: “We are facing a human crisis unlike any we have experienced” and our “social fabric and cohesion is under stress.”In just a small span of time, this virus has firmly established its hold on the globe and it’s possible that it may continue to be the cause of misery for all of us, up to an unpredictable period of time. But, going by the law of nature, what has begun will definitely come to an end; hence the world is going to witness an all-new future after the end of this deadly pandemic-COVID-19 crisis. What we hadn’t imagined in the past is happening today. Similarly, the atypical things going on in the present, may become the new normal tomorrow!

Nobody ever thought, that the activities on earth may come to a stand still just because of a small micro-organism. The roads that were jammed with vehicles and people, day and night, today are no less than desolate and deserted due to the forceful yet necessary imposition of lockdown, thanks to Corona. But on the positive side, we have witnessed a significant fall in the pollution levels. The recent reports of Himalayan peaks being visible from Punjab add to the proof. Hence, in order to bring down pollution, the government may take some lessons from the present scenario and impose a complete shutdown once in a week or fortnight or month. Yes, it can be a small contribution to revive Mother Nature and hence can also become an integral part of the new normal! Probably, there maybe a halt to the over excavation of fossil and natural resources. The lockdown has forced people to stay indoors for months, something which none had anticipated. The cons-fall in GDP, unable to move to places of interest, workplaces, unemployment, distancing from friends, depression due to isolation etc., But the pros are-the much needed rest to the working machine-our human body became a possibility, spending quality time with family, a scope to explore ourselves and most importantly, a significant reduction in transmission of the disease!

What has become and will remain popular amongst us for the long run is ‘social distancing’. The sarcasm here is, we are maintaining self-isolation, distancing from masses in the 21st century of connectivity! And it shall be no surprise, when social distancing might become a law to abide by. While it will be a matter of pleasure for introverts but will be a tough phase for the extroverts. Regaining trust of people will definitely take a long time, since there shall be a constant fear of coming in contact with the infected. Many may suffer from Agoraphobia- the fear of going out.When people will be able to come out and carry out day-to-day activities like going to work, grocery shopping or hangout with friends, the feeling would be no less than that of scaling the Mt. Everest! The Corona is an invisible enemy, asymptomatic fellow human beings and the world is now a treacherous place- these thoughts shall revolve in our minds that will hold us from and make us hesitate from indulging into any form of face-to-face interaction. People will refrain from travelling abroad, something they loved to do enthusiastically. But, exposure is necessary and an important part of recovery. For sometime, enclosure may become the new normal and exposure an alien task.

The health care sector is under the greatest pressure due to the on-going pandemic. The frontline warriors-the Doctors and nurses are undergoing a constant physical and emotional turmoil along with the fear of getting infected. Who knows, the present working conditions may become part of their regular general practices. The personal protective equipment will become the new cape for the heroes in white coats. Watching patients fighting the disease all alone by themselves, succumb to the illness, to providing them support will be a cause for physical, emotional and mental trauma for the healthcare workers, that will continue even after the end of the pandemic. It will be a long fight with the distress within. But, on the brighter side, taking a lesson from the pandemic, health will be given maximum priority. The age-old health care system must change and it will. Old, worned out hospitals will be upgraded, installed with latest machineries, skilled workforce and newer techniques. Digital health apps will monitor health at home itself. One may undergo immunity check ups to enter or exit certain territories and can also be under constant surveillance or tracking systems due to health issues.

There will be a sharp decline in the number of religious gatherings and the people attending it. A new era of, virtual worship will develop. But, sadly, the norm of social distancing may not allow one to physically attend funerals and condolence meets, neither allow for collective worships and celebration of festivals or marriages. The charm of coming together be it for the Easter day, or the holy month of Ramadan or the approaching RathYatra, will all fade away! Though online delivery of spiritual knowledgemay trend, but one will definitely miss the experience of the divine aura and aesthetic pleasure upon visiting religious places.

Mass media, sports and entertainment haven’t been spared from the effects of the virus either. The postponing of the Tokyo Olympics was truly disheartening for all those eagerly waiting for it. We may not find a large, enthusiastic group of supporters for popular sports events. Concerts with a large number of audiences may vanish away for an uncertain period of time. All we can afford is personalised way of entertainment inside our living rooms, in front of the television. Contact sports like boxing, wrestling etc. may also be avoided. Virtual reality may become the new medium to carry out these sorts of sports. Computer, video games and multiplayer games will find greater acceptance. Cinema halls will face huge losses, as online streaming will be the new normal.

As every coin has two sides, the pandemic has both negative and positive effects. It has suspended our daily lives but on the other hand taught us to amend it too, for the greater good in the long run.

(The views expressed are the writer’s own.)

Sonali Suman, Pursuing MBBS at Fakir Mohan Medical College and Hospital ,Balasore Address- Qrs no. 4R-10, OUAT colony, unit 8, Bhubaneswar

You can reach her at: [email protected]

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