The COVID-19 Pandemic Backdrop
The COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be unforgiving, claiming the lives of many across the globe. It is an ongoing global crisis, which was primarily caused by coronavirus disease. The outbreak was first witnessed in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where cases started emerging since November 2019. The virus is known to penetrate the human body in various ways, and cause the severe respiratory syndrome, fever, cough, and nausea. The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared this outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International concern on 30th January 2020 and a pandemic on 11th March. The COVID pandemic is redefining the global health crisis of our times and can be regarded as probably the greatest challenges faced by the world since WWII. However, COVID-19 now isn’t something that can be called just a health crisis. It has developed into a full-fledged socio-economic crisis, which is straining several aspects of life and countries in general.
An Introduction to the Topic
With lockdown and restraint of movement in most parts of the world, the pandemic has had multiple devastating consequences on the social, economic, and political aspects all over the globe, and has left a deep, longlasting scar on the same. This disruption in the normal course of life has derailed the entire mechanism of human activities. Along with the impending fear of catching the virus, people are now facing the issues of basic survival. The Governments can help only so much and the lockdowns can be imposed for only so many days but the virus doesn’t seem to subside. On the contrary, the cases have been rising at an alarming rate and there is nothing that seems certain about the future.
The International Labour Organization estimates that 195 million jobs can be lost worldwide. The psychological implications of the crisis are also undeniable. People are feeling caged, being indoors for so long. Many are unable to meet their family and friends and this, in turn, is taking a huge toll on the mental health of most people.
Having put all these things in perspective, let us now look at the 15 major impacts that the COVID-19 Pandemic has had on the world. These 15 will be divided into three sections- Health care, Environment and the bottom of the pyramid people.
Let us have a look!
IMPACT ON Health & HEALTH CARE SECTOR:
The restrictive measure taken by many governments to curb the increasing number of cases, calling for a complete lock-down and reclusiveness, have taken a serious toll on people’s daily lives and mental health. People are getting highly anxious and disturbed, living under the constant threat of the disease. Many have friends and family, who have been affected by the disease and also have been unable to recover from the same. They are completely caged in their houses, with no social interaction at all. Depression and mental health cases have, for the obvious reasons been increasing in number.
The most glaring finding of this global pandemic in the health care sector is that major services disruptions have been witnessed in the health care sector of many countries. More than half (53%) of countries have partially or completely unorganized and inefficient medical facilities, which are failing to treat the COVID-19 patients rightly and thereby contributing to the increasing number of cases every day. Also, the medical staff in most countries are untrained to tackle a global health crisis like this, and thus failing to render services. We cannot really blame anyone for this situation but it throws light on the fact that we need to be better prepared for such sudden emergencies.
Shortage of PPE
It is an unfortunate fact that there exists an irrecoverable shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits in several countries. For the medical staff to serve the COVID-19 patients, they need to be healthy and protected, to ensure uninterrupted treatment of those infected by the virus. Inadequate training of staff, shortage of PPE, reduced understanding of the usage, and confused PPE guidance has resulted in infections and deaths of many. We cannot again blame the Government or any of the service providers involved but it needs to be understood that this pandemic showed us that we need to be well prepared for such emergency production.
Deaths of Medical Staff
The frontline warriors of the pandemic are the doctors and nurses who are relentlessly serving the patient, indifferent to their safety. This risk of viral transmission to healthcare workers has been a concern since the start of the pandemic. In March 2020, the International Council of Nurses reported that at least 90,000 health workers have been affected by the coronavirus and more than 260 nurses had died. Around 548 doctors have lost their lives in India alone. So the safety of the medical workers should be of utmost concern.
This has been a disturbing issue for many developed nations of the world, let alone developing and under-developed ones. Lack of proper testing and medical attention, coupled with a limited number of beds to be provided for the patients, which is impossible to be accommodated, is a serious concern of the world health sector.
IMPACT ON ENVIRONMENT
By the dint of lockdown in many countries, the economic – industrial activities, travelling done by people, have been reduced drastically. All these have consequently led to the reduction of pollution in the air drastically and thereby marked a decline in nitrous oxide emission. This, in turn, has helped in improving the air quality across various countries and thus a fall in the carbon-footprints causing environmental depletion.
The unforgiving corona crisis has also had some positive impacts on the environment. Since industrial activities have been shut down, the amount of industrial waste, which primarily consists of plastic debris and disposals, has reduced to a significant extent and thereby helped in clearing up the waterways. Also, since there are no boats, whether, for fishing or pleasure, the aquatic animals are living a better life. In areas like Venice, the water became so clear that the fish could be seen.
On account of irresponsible behaviour by people, who do not flinch to litter, the lockdown has proven to be a boon for these natural capital assets. With no human interference or in other words, lack of tourists, there has been a notable change in the appearance of beaches across the globe.
Reduction in environmental Noise
The reduced number of vehicles on the road definitely helped this environmental cause too. Multiple levels of decibel decrease happened while the world was in lockdown. Needless to say, a lot of us heard the birds chirp back even at the oddest unexpected hours.
A deeper analysis on this aspect would still be required but there was a shift of balance for sure. While earlier there were a lot of inorganic wastes that were being thrown out, the same was replaced by organic wastes now. Since most people were at home, and bulk orders were happening at once- most of which were groceries, the plastic coverings, cutlery, cloths etc that were thrown out pretty frequently earlier got reduced. While it comes at a huge economic cost but the hit to the e-commerce sector actually ended up benefitting the environment.
IMPACT ON THE POOR
Increase in poverty
The nationwide lockdown had its series of negative impacts on the poorest of the poor too. Due to the shutting of industries and factories, the working blue-collared class have been rendered jobless. From 60% the proportion of people Below the Poverty Level has increased to 68%. Negating all the efforts of the government in mitigating poverty, the corona pandemic has become a serious economic crisis. While there have been multiple levels of efforts in providing the bottom of the pyramid population with enough resources to survive yet this approach isn’t something even the Government will be able to sustain for long.
Due to the fall in economic activities throughout the world, almost every country has been impacted without exception. The investments stopped, the native industries suffered a monetary burn. With virtually no trade happening, the money supply in circulation has been disrupted and thereby no new creation of job opportunities has happened.
The world has never faced a global food crisis like the Covid-19 pandemic in recent times. It is estimated that it could double the number of people facing acute hunger to 265million by the end of 2020. With social distancing drying up jobs and incomes, the poor believe that they will die of hunger before the virus. Agricultural production and supply routes are likely to be disrupted, thus leaving millions to worry about how will they get food to eat.
The United Nations has granted relief funds of $2.5 trillion to help developing countries to mitigate the problem of society. However, with no new business venture or economic activity, the rate of wealth generation has shrunken to a barely anything figure making it difficult to ascertain a process by which a solution which could at least last till the end of the pandemic could be figured out!
Since the supply chain has been put under stress with the lockdown restriction, the gap between demand and supply has increased. This, in turn, has provided for an inflationary rise in the prices of goods and services. The black marketers have started hoarding goods and selling them at higher prices and incidents like that have been coming out a lot recently. In this, the poor are being unable to afford their basic essential commodities and services and thus dwelling in starvation.
A Solution we have at the offer!
We have listed out the questions. It is thus important that we write about the probable solutions too. One such immediate solution that we can think of lies in us engaging in eco-friendly activities which aim at improving not just the ecological but also the economic infrastructure.
At BuzzOnEarth, we were recently granted 50acres of land in Madhya Pradesh to plant trees and boost the livelihood in the nearby regions. At the current pace, we are comfortably placed to provide 25kg/sqm of Carbon sequestration from this land through the initiative. In addition to this, additional resources such as for waste management, cottage industry development etc can also be promulgated. We call it Mission Prakriti and we have a long way to go.
Through this project, we will be able to grant continuous livelihood to multiple local people every year. Thus, the environment gets preserved, people get a livelihood, revenues get generated as an extension of the same and in the end, everyone benefits out of it.
This was our solution. If you have any, do write back to us!