If anyone told us that over 3 billion people would be locked in their homes by only the third month of 2020, they would have surely been met with scoffs. But today, as the COVID 19 pandemic has taken center stage all over the globe, the world is on lockdown, but it has certainly not stopped.
The end of this decade is bringing us perhaps the greatest test as a community. A disease that has hit almost every shore, made us redesign our entire workforce, and compelled us to question whether we live sustainably, or if Coronavirus is just the first of many pandemics to come.
But the humdrum caused by this novel coronavirus has done more than just make our workforce squirm. It has exposed that there is an alternate way of life, one that can slow us down as a species. The world is on lockdown, but work has not stopped. Nature too is relishing this break as humans have retreated into the safety of their homes. Videos on social media show that swans and swarms of fish have returned to the canals of Venice, where just a few months ago, gondolas clogged the waterways. Videos from Singapore showed delightful otters sunbathing in the city’s deserted parks. With many countries on lockdown, the levels of traffic pollution have plummeted. Satellites have picked up very large decreases in levels of NO2, and New York has close to 50% lesser air pollution due compared to this time last year due to measures to contain the virus. Read the complete report by The Guardian on COVID-19’s effects on world pollution here.
Like every public health emergency, the transmission of coronavirus has acted as a reminder of our fragility and mortality, and given people around the world a glimpse of what is truly important. Without health, there can be no productivity. Traces of these reminders will endure long after the COVID-19 crisis is over. Long after we are back to offices again, long after the roads fill up, the world will always remember the non exhaustive efforts of healthcare workers, sanitation workers, local grocers, delivery personnel and the thousands of other obscure fighters who are shouldering the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic, allowing us to stay at home in safety and with peace of mind.
In the time where half the world mourns and the other half panics, there are people who have made it their mission to feed strays who usually depend on garbage from restaurants that are now shut. Thousands of people world over have been collecting funds to help those who are most affected by the shutdowns- the poor, daily wage workers. Retired doctors are volunteering with their lives, just like people like you and me on the roads offering to drive those who need to go out urgently in the absence of public transport. Videos of policemen in China, in Italy and here in the US shopping for groceries for the elderly have been going viral, and fashion brands, textile companies, and some individuals just using their contacts to produce and donate masks and other PPE for healthcare professionals fighting on the frontline have provided us the heartwarming news we need at this time.
Long after the pandemic is over, populations around the world will remember how quickly things can go wrong, and how quickly millions of people got together to fight an invisible enemy, nourished by hope and generosity of spirit. The fight is far from over and like every dark chapter in history, with community effort, we shall overcome.