Roughly about this time last year, the perishing winter season in China has descended across most of the country. There were widespread rumours about a strange, new flu that has begun to circulate in and around Wuhan. On WeChat, the official social media platform of China, several users have discussed their symptoms of Cough and cold for several days with words like SARS and shortness of breath.
By the first week of December, this new flu was referred to as a ‘pneumonia of unknown origins’ and thousands of people who were customers or workers of a popular seafood market in Wuhan got admitted in the city’s hospitals for treatment. As we close in on a year of life through the pandemic, it is excruciating to know that it has led to approximately 1.3 million deaths and more than 54 million infections across the globe.
According to a report from the Science Direct, the earliest date of the onset of symptoms associated with this deadly disease could be traced to Dec 1. 2019. Initially, the press and media of Wuhan named it the ‘Wuhan pneumonia’ and a few days later, genome sequencing results showed that the causative agent is a novel coronavirus. It is the seventh member of the coronavirus family to affect human beings. On March 11, 2020, The World Health Organization officially declared that the Covid 19 is a pandemic following the H1N1 Pandemic flu in 2009 that caused about 300,000 human deaths.
Every nation on the planet Earth has seen its impact in several unanticipated ways. The pandemic has uprooted businesses, messed up lifestyles, toppled economies, sparked political tensions to name a few. In the upcoming sections of this article, we shall quickly glance over the impact of Covid on humanity, business and also see what we can be hopeful of in the future days to come.
Impact on Humanity
Apart from the enormous loss of human life across the world, the covid 19 pandemic has also presented humanity with an unprecedented challenge to public health, food and systems of work. Tens of millions of people are on the verge of falling into extreme levels of poverty while the huge number of undernourished people, currently estimated to be about 690 million is deeply disconcerting.
Covid 19 pandemic has impacted the entire food market and has made it fragile. Border closures, restrictions on trade and confinement measures have prevented farmers from having access to markets and buying inputs for their crops. It not only wreaked havoc within the national and international food supply chains, but it also led to reduced access to healthy and safe food.
In the current crisis, public health has also been greatly affected, especially the health and safety of daily wage workers who need to step out despite the current scenario. Several lives and livelihoods of affected people, i.e, those working in the informal sector of economy in underpaid jobs, youth, caretakers, and women were deeply impacted. An extension of social protection towards universal health coverage and money support proved crucial.
Impact on Business
Millions of businesses and enterprises are now facing an existential threat. Approximately one half of the global workforce, i.e, 3.3 billion people, are at the risk of losing their jobs and livelihoods. Particularly vulnerable are the workers of the informal sector as they have far less social protection and reduced access to proper health care. Most of them have lost access to productive assets and have very little money to survive the stressful periods ahead.
Businesses are forced to navigate the financial and operational challenges of the covid 19 pandemic. The shutdown of economies has led to financial bankruptcy in many businesses across the world. Every industry, from travel to electronics has been deeply affected.
A recent report shows that 80 percent of all the hotel rooms are empty. Following the travel restrictions, airlines had to cut down their workforce by about 90 percent to save on expenses. Personal services like gyms, hairdressers have come to a standstill during the lockdown and are still struggling. Other Important industries like the cars and electronics have abruptly closed for a short while in the lockdown.
While some businesses are barely managing to survive, some of them are thriving. Most of the internet based businesses, related to food delivery, entertainment, online shopping, education and solutions for remote working have achieved great success. People have changed their consumption patterns and now prefer takeaways and dining at their homes. Another sector that has had a massive boost is the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry.
Predicted lasting effects
Owing to the previous experiences, we have become more protective after the outbreak of a pandemic. We are saving resources in order to be prepared if any unanticipated events reoccur. Most countries have started stockpiling essentials like food, equipment, medicines and are also greatly encouraging local production of the same.
It is important for the large global firms to have sturdy and reliable supply chains that do not break in times like these. Consequently, it is also very likely that the covid 19 pandemic will make them rethink the reliability of their supply chains and probably move supply chains closer to where they are needed in order to avoid stopping production in the future
On a further note, most authorities have made it clear that allowing people from other countries is risky as it can be dangerous to the country they enter into. International flights thus may not be a great option for the days to come. Putting all these together, it could make countries become more nationalistic and compartively less globalized.
Such a development could be highly dangerous, as protection and overcoming the pandemic requires global effort and sharing of resources. Mutual understanding and cooperation among the countries across the world is extremely important to tackle the current and the upcoming global challenges we may have to face in future.
The bottom line
So many families around the world have lost the people they love and many of them are in grave financial troubles. Tis’ the time for global solidarity and support. With so many people’s lives laying bare and vulnerable to the havoc caused by the covid 19 pandemic, it is important to stand by one another during these uncertain times. Only together, we can form a sheath of protection against the intertwined health, social and economic impacts of this pandemic before it escalates into a humanitarian catastrophe with far more severe implications!