The coronavirus pandemic has taken away millions of lives globally, posing a hefty economic cost for countries around the world. The virus originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan and has been spreading all around the globe, revealing the interdependence of economies.
People who are trapped in refugee camps, the vulnerable population and people living in slums without medical support and hygiene are now the most affected by the virus.
The economic consequences of the infection are going to be massive, affecting the very functioning of every economy. Several lessons can be learnt from the pandemic that are as mentioned below:
- Global cooperation is the need of the hour
People have turned into panic buying and hoarding in a lot of countries. They are stocking up on food and groceries causing stress to other people who are not able to access the same essentials at the same time. During these times, it is extremely important for people to hold together, help the needy or do whatever one can to help.
As the global threats like coronavirus are becoming threats to national security, the premium for cooperation is increasing. The virus cannot be put to a halt at national borders. International cooperation has set the way for tactical rivalry and disjointed power blocks. Some political observers have feared that the pandemic can lead to increasing existing divergences, charging nationalism and undermining free trade.
COVID-19 has shown that the traditional concept of power becomes useless in such crisis period as threats like diseases, terrorism and climate change have no bounds. No country can stop the impact of a pandemic, climate change or any other natural disaster on their own. We must coordinate and mobilise our efforts to combat the pandemic, especially in the less developed countries, which lack the needed resources to fight COVID-19.
- Prevention and better preparedness for the pandemic
There have been long warnings by scientists and doctors about contagious diseases since the outbreaks of Ebola, SARS, bird flu etc. Just a few weeks before coronavirus pandemic had hit China, John Hopkins centre, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Economic Forum had conducted a simulation exercise to prepare for a pandemic, ‘Event 201’ on October 18, 2019. The results found that the governments, public health organizations and businesses were all unprepared and the massive need to allocate resources to pandemic prevention in future. It also asserted the need to develop cost-benefit models to know the timing and types of lockdowns to save lives without excess economic disruption.
Future pandemics may not just arise from diseases. The world is at risk of many environmental disasters caused by climate changes. There have been consistent warnings of the human effect on climate, on plants, animals, soil and water that have been overlooked widely.
- Medical capacity and health systems not adequate
The coronavirus has shown the world that there is a lack of ability to assemble the intensive care units. The lack of adequate health and welfare systems in all the countries and the absence of global rules and coordination in health protection has caused the countries to bear massive economic and social costs. There is a need to protect health, welfare, environment and labor rights by international standards.
Public health systems play a vital role to respond to coronavirus. Public health systems are based on the picture of health as a fundamental right given by governments by providing universal public services to meet individual and social needs.
Also, the economy will not go back to normal suddenly post the COVID-19 epidemic recedes. Production and consumption must be done, keeping in mind the health of the people and the environment damage that the activity will cause. Health and welfare are key engines in development.
Economic activities that focus on protecting the health and welfare of people and pursue environment-friendly activities is the need of the hour.
- Going digital
At a time when the word is under lockdown, professionals have been working from home. The shutdowns have forced corporates to move to digital and find different ways to hold meetings, cut travel and monitor other activities for its employees and it is expected to push them to innovation in these techniques further. This can reduce the need for expensive office spaces, airlines and train journeys cutting hours of commuting time.
With lesser commutes daily to work, they will not only be saving on fuel but also cut in the travel and time costs for workers. COVID-19 has also resulted in moving the educational system online. The online education system has enabled students to stay at home with parents, saving on rent, transport and other types of living costs. Further, the quality of online education needs work, but if online classes continue, they can become significantly better.
Technology can also be widely used in temples, churches, mosques, etc. where the priests can stream their prayers live on channels. Similarly, gyms, yoga instructors, dancers can hold online classes to teach people at home.
- Communication and Transparency within government
Transparency is an essential condition for an effective response. The country must be kept informed about the number of cases, recoveries and fatalities. People must be constantly reminded of the dire need to take precautionary measures like social distancing and washing hands so that they do not come into contact with the disease. They must also be briefed about the health measures that needs to be taken in case any issues related to healthcare arises.
Proactive and visible action is necessary to help people maintain their peace and assure them that the government is doing their bit to combat the virus. Strong communication levels across government levels and vigorous enactment of logistics are needed to make sure apt action is taken when needed. Hence, communication levels help people in alleviating their fears and increase trust in the government.
Several jobs have become useless, but on the contrary, there will be a demand for online courses. The pandemic is already changing health, daily life, and economic possibilities rapidly around the world. This is a situation to equip yourself for the future pandemics and making it healthy, green and safe for everyone.
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