The biggest thing to rattle the world in the 21st century is COVID-19 pandemic. It struck when all seemed so fine and going. However, every century has had its fair share of pandemics. In 1918, Spanish flu claimed the lives of as many as 500 million people around the world. Black plague that lasted from 1346-1353 took a heavy toll of 100,000 lives. Swine flu was another disrupter sometime back. The world has never been the same after these pandemics engulfed humanity. The lifestyles changed dramatically and so is the case with the present calamity.
Corona Virus is a disease that is rapidly changing over time and is similar to SARS and MERS respiratory diseases. Corona is different in the sense that it uses RNA instead of DNA having spikes on its surface to invade other cells. This novel pandemic took shape in November 2019 reporting its first case at Wuhan in China and slowly spreading to the whole of Wuhan reaching up to 50 cases in December. 2020 started with a few cases but on March 11, World Health Organisation (WHO), declared it a COVID-19 a pandemic. It was in its most virulent form in March and April with cases mounting to 80,000 worldwide. It directly affects the lungs leading to severe respiratory problems. The other symptoms include dry cough, fever and fatigue. Even experts are not in a position to tell how long it will last. The normal life, however, has been adversely impacted. People lost their jobs and were plunged into abject poverty. Industries were shut down and small-scale industries adversely hit. Everything seems to be upside down socially, economically and politically. The economy of many countries has been ripped apart. Initially, people took norms of social distancing, frequent hand-washing and wearing masks seriously but have become casual with the pandemic not ending anytime soon. Stay-at-home has been a bane for them. Nobody imagined that one day we would thus be confined within the four walls of our homes. Gone are those days when we could ramble about in a carefree manner in close proximity of each other.
There will be recession in the world market and long-term effects will be felt in many areas such as travel, tourism and hotel industry. There has been a mass exodus of workers to their hometown across India. It will affect the employers when they look for labour. The online classes have not been that effective to address the problem of loss of lessons. The future of student community hangs in balance. The clearing of doubts and conceptual clarity in the physical presence of teachers is irreplaceable. The excessive exposure to screen may affect their vision and mental health. The reduction in school fees has hit the education sector. The virus has also limited our physical activity. People are working from home without caring about their mental and physical health. How can people living in slums practise distancing?
The top scientists have failed to develop a vaccine to fight the disease. It is a booming time for pharmaceutical industry. They are selling their products at astronomical prices. There is a mad competition among software giants to develop ever new video conferencing platforms. Online Payment Apps are doing brisk business. People have begun to prefer online deliveries and even small shops and businesses are now accepting e-payments. In a way, the rigorous attitude to accept only paper money has been broken down. This epidemic has paved the way for new beginnings.
The direct result of staying at home has been a massive reduction in pollution. The ozone layer has begun to replenish itself. The creatures of the wild are roaming freely. The climatic conditions have improved considerably. The water is getting purified. People have suddenly realised the importance of bonding and confines of their own homes. Those who had severed all ties with their near and dear ones are texting and calling them. The lesson has been to live in peace and harmony.
The import and export business has come to a virtual standstill. America is the worst hit country with the highest number of deaths and ever increasing rate of infection. They failed to act in time and President Donald Trump announced publicly the virus would disappear one day magically. They are bearing the brunt of a lackadaisical response to the pandemic. It was already out of control before they enforced lockdown measures. Even the basic norms of protection were not taken seriously. On the other hand, China was very quick to act and impose strict restrictions. South Korea was another success story. Prime Minister Modi of India led from the front and enforced lockdown measures to the betterment of all citizens.
Corona virus has left us all devastated but also given lessons for a lifetime. It is up to us how we look at it and implement them in our lives.