Six Lessons We Can Learn from COVID-19 Pandemic
By Francis Agamah
Corona Virus!, COVID-19.The word has become all too familiar to us now. Every nook and cranny of the Earth has been touched by this deadly disease. It seems humans are at war with a new disease that had suddenly invaded Earth's territory, no warning!
Prior to December 2019, no one knew about the Novel Corona Virus or COVID-19. That day marked a turning point in human history.
On that day, Wuhan Municipal Health Commission of China, reported a cluster of cases of pneumonia in Wuhan, Hubei Province that led to the identification of the novel coronavirus. Scientist believed SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, was initially contracted from an animal host to humans in Wuhan, China. Consequently,China became the first 'Epicentre' of the disease. It wasn't long before the total number of infections rose and spread beyond the political borders of China to other continents, countries, provinces and person-to-person. COVID-19 cases have now been confirmed on every continent except Antarctica.
Today one of the major Covid-19 hotspots is USA. Global cases hit 9,619,573 as at June 25, 2020 with total deaths of 489,556.
This virus has far reaching consequences that just health related issues. Its toll on the essential sectors of our national lives, Economic, Political and Socio- cultural cannot be overemphasized.
These sentiments were echoed forcefully by Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO director-general, at a media briefing. He said, “This is not just a public health crisis, it is a crisis that will touch every sector so every sector and every individual must be involved in the fight.”
Our Economies are nose-diving, world unemployment rates soared and our fundamental freedoms and rights are put on hold. Social lives are also highly restricted, hospitals are filled with the sick and footballers now play in empty stadia. Daily News focuses on COVID-19, relegating other news headlines to the background.
Despite this gloomy scenario, COVID-19 can teach us some essential lessons which are prerequisite for our survival in the near future.
The first lesson one can learn from COVID-19 is ' Our Tomorrow is uncertain.' In pre -COVID-19 time, a lot of people seemed very sure of their future. How many people were aware their lifestyles would change today? How many of them knew they won't see tomorrow?
How many people knew their planned trips and businesses will come to a halt?
So inasmuch as we enjoy our lives today, we must not overlook the fact that tomorrow can change our story regardless of whatever assurance we have today. It doesn't matter who assures you, nobody really knows the package tomorrow will bring to us.
The second lesson one can learn from the corona virus Pandemic is 'You are responsible for your own life and self discipline is key.
While we are all aware that we need to take care of ourselves and practise personally hygiene, this pandemic drives home that concept forcefully. We are now keenly aware of the need to keep washing our hands every now and then, control how we sneeze, wear nose masks and face masks , avoiding hand-shaking and practise physical distancing. Failure to adhere to these COVID-19 safety protocols means you are exposing yourself to risk. We have seen upsurge in corona virus cases in countries whose citizens have failed to adhere to this basic directives from the WHO. So in a way , this pandemic is teaching us how to take responsibilities for our own lives by becoming more self-disciplined.
Thirdly, the pandemic helps us to realise that freedom is Priceless.
Most often, we underestimate the value of freedom. Freedom gives us the space to develop our potentials without fear or victimization.
When the number of COVID-19 cases increases, most countries initiated a lock-down. People were ordered to stay at home. Basic freedoms guaranteed by the constitution were suspended in order to curb the spread of the virus which is spread through human contact. In some countries, the police were deployed to ensure strict adherence to covid-19 safety protocols. For instance, in Ghana, one can go to jail up to a maximum of ten(10) years just because of failing to wear a nose mask!
Freedom of worship and association was
restricted and churches and mosques were closed. Even after easing down on the restrictions, a limit (100) was put on the number of people that can congregate at a time in church. It was in that moment that the reality dawned on most people. We are not in normal times so life cannot go on as it used to be. Most People felt like prisoners in their own homes. Soon they understood how priceless freedom is. Once freedom is taken from you, your life becomes unusual in a way. That is why freedom is a fundamental human right.
Furthermore ,COVID-19 also shows us the importance of sustained economic life. Development strives on a booming economy. After the initial Covid -19 scare which kept people in their homes, it has
become apparent that regardless of the health risk associated with COVID-19, we still need to survive economically.
In one instance, a man was arrested for coming out during the lockdown. Upon interrogation, he said, "Hunger virus is worst than Corona Virus." While this might sound funny, it amplifies how vital our means of livelihood is to our survival.
We cannot deny the fact that though many countries ease their restrictions on lock downs based on the scientific knowledge they may have acquired on the virus, one of the principal reasons for easing the restrictions is purely economical.
Another vital lesson we can from this pandemic is that 'the world has become more globalised than we think. Gone were the days physical space constituted a barrier to human interaction. Today, physical space is infinitesimal to our interaction be it socially, politically or culturally. The world had become a global village, made much easier by the advent of the internet and supersonic airplanes.
To a large extent , this is a good thing but it also has a dark side.
It means whatever affects one part of the world would surely affect the rest of the world. I couldn't have said it much better. When the COVID-19 case was initially reported in Wuhan, China, people in other part of the world might have thought it didn't concern us. People kept travelling from one country to another and going about their daily routines as usual. Interactions of all kinds were taking place until the virus knocked on the doors of these countries and spread across their lands , causing the cases to skyrocket.
It was therefore not surprising that on March 11,The World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic, pointing to the over 118,000 cases of the coronavirus illness in over 110 countries and territories around the world.
Finally, COVID-19 has taught us that natural disasters and pandemics don't need our permission.
Pandemics come regardless of how busy we are. They don't need permission from us. They just come and you are obliged to comply to their bidding. I don't know of anyone in the world that is so powerful that he can halt all human activities and divert attention to himself. Even if he exists, it will take a lot of bureaucracies to stop football premier leagues or FIFA,religious activities, airline companies, the entertainment industry and religious activities. COVID-19 pandemic doesn't need complex processes or bureaucracies. It just strike.
Since pandemics and natural disasters don't need our permission before causing harm, we need to be disaster/ pandemic-conscious as individuals and as a government.
In conclusion, it is imperative for all of us to critically learn the lessons COVID-19 is teaching us in order to help us cope with the uncertainties that may be embedded in future.
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