It’s been just over a year since we all got to know of the pandemic. We all were bogged down in our life, so much so that we never thought of what was happening around us. Some were so busy in the rat race, they forgot what it was all about in the first place. If there was something that could catch us off guard, this was it.
The sheer scale at which the pandemic unfolded was astounding. It was something that we were just not prepared for. Even the governments all over the world, who thought were prepared for a pandemic did not anticipate the scale in which it unfolded. Folks from every walk of life were affected. Even animals and nature too. While everyone was gearing up and looking forward to the year 2020 as a year that will stand out in their lives and something in which they were going to accomplish great deal of milestones, the year sure had its fair share of surprises. It now stands as the most unforgettable year for the current generation.
Key things we now know of the pandemic
- It is caused by a virus called as Coronavirus. This is also called as SARS-C0V-2. It belongs to a family of virus called as Coronaviridae that were found sometime in 1968.
- They appear to be like the spikes coming out of the sun’s corona. Hence the name.
- While there is a lot of speculation on the origins of the Coronavirus to be from a Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, there are investigations still going on to determine the true origins. At the time of this writing, there is no conclusion yet. Unfortunately, there is still no clear answer yet.
- Currently, there are close to 100 million cases worldwide, including Antarctica. Yes, you read that right.
- Over 2 million people have died due to Covid-19. Of this, more than half of the deaths are from the US, Brazil, India, Mexico, UK and Italy. Perhaps all of these countries and their respective governments could have better handled the pandemic.
- Some countries took aggressive steps to curb the spread. Australia and New Zealand too stringent and decisive actions. South Korea conducted large testing efforts.
- Symptoms are mostly dry cough, fever, fatigue, and sore throat but in severe cases it leads to chest pain and shortness of breath. In most severe cases, people have experienced inflammation. It is advised that you check your government’s health updates to know the latest updates.
Pandemic Timeline in Brief
While every day, week and the month of 2020 had something to talk about, some events stood out. Here is quick snapshot of some of these:
- In early Jan 2020, WHO announced a mystery illness in Wuhan, China. At the time, it referred to the illness as Coronavirus related pneumonia.
- Later in Jan 2020, WHO issued a Global Health Emergency as there was an exponential infected case globally. It was only the sixth time in its entirety that WHO had issued a global health emergency.
- Starting early Feb 2020, we began to see several Global Air Travel restrictions beginning to get imposed by countries.
- The disease got its official name in Feb 2020. It was named as Covid-19 which is an acronym for coronavirus disease 2019.
- We saw several cruise ships battling the spread of the pandemic. Of that, the one that everyone watched with increasing concern was that of the Diamond Princess Cruise Ship in Yokohama, Japan.
- Lockdowns began in several countries.
- In Mar 2020, the Director General of WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared Covid-19 as a pandemic, calling for aggressive action by all the world leaders.
- India announced a 21 day lockdown in Mar 2020.
- Contact tracing began in several countries. This was a praiseworthy success in Asia due to the way of its implementation. WHO even praised Singapore for its ability to conduct effective and highly efficient contact tracking.
- Economic impact was grave in April 2020 when global cases topped over a million and millions of people lost jobs.
- Singapore entered its circuit breaker in April 2020. There was a high number of infected cases in Foreign Worker Dormitories.
- In May 2020, both Germany and Japan formally entered economic recession
- During May 2020, June 2020, the pandemic spread in Latin American and African regions.
- In July 2020, European leaders agreed on a stimulus package to rescue their economies.
- While lockdowns continued, there was also an increase in the infected cases.
- It was only in Nov 2020 that a vaccine was in the final stages of getting an approval. Russia, China and the US all had their version of the vaccine. Even India had its homegrown version in the pipeline.
- FDA approved both Pfizer and Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine in Dec 2020.
- A new variant of Covid-19 was found in UK which was fast spreading. UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson abruptly imposed another lockdown. Countries in Europe began closing borders to UK.
- In Jan 2021, Vaccinations began shipping and getting administered to ‘at risk’ folks in several countries.
Things that worried us during the pandemic
While the world was trying to make sense of what the pandemic was and what everyone needs to do, we saw countless health care workers, who were in the frontline, in the hospitals, working for tens of hour
s, battling their protective gear, and serving the infected patients. We saw several nurses with marks on their faces for having worn masks for very long duration. They were overworked, they were in pain, they were in anguish and yet, they continued to serve. This just made us understand how grim the situation really was.
There was also a massive panic buying of groceries. Long lines, frustrated people, empty shelves were a common sight across the globe. Several people stocked up on ration to survive lockdowns.
Everyone was surprised with how people fought over tissue paper rolls. I mean, who would have thought that come pandemic, people would fight for bags of tissue rolls
We also saw paranoia spreading and people trying to grab surgical and 3-ply masks along with hand sanitizers. There were several opportunistic people to made a quick buck from the situation. A box of 50 surgical masks that would usually go for few dollars were being sold for over $100. I remember paying such a sum to get some masks. Not my proud moment, but it is what most of us ended doing.
The distinct boundary between work and home got thinner and thinner as we went deeper into the lockdowns. World over, it became a norm to work from home. If there was anything that can be done remotely, was now to be done so. This naturally increased the number of meetings and their frequencies too. Audio calls turned into video calls. In person workshops turned into bursts of two-to-three-hour online workshops. Zoom out of nowhere emerged to be the winner. We even celebrated birthday and anniversaries over video calls.
Amidst all the chaos, the pandemic within the pandemic was the rise of fake news. Social media platforms were plagued by weird remedies that helped increase immunity to the virus. At one point, this reached ridiculous level. Hoax theories, conspiracy theories, blame games, false news, hidden agendas – name it and it happened.
Easing of lockdowns and restrictions
Life as we knew had changed until a foreseeable future. The burning question that governments world over faced was ‘how long can we sustain the lockdowns / movement restrictions? Impact of these was not just economic but in time these began significant repercussions on people and their psychological needs. While some thrived in restricted environment, several others struggled. I read several horror stories on how lockdowns made folks claustrophobic and how some were struggling to fight their demons.
Awareness campaigns were conducted to educate public about the virus and what they need to do. Some were emphasized more and more to a point these became a norm.
- Maintain social distance between people. Usually this was about one meter apart. In some places this was six feet. In extreme cases, a safe distance measures of two meters were also implemented.
- Contact Tracing was done proactively due to measures that were already implemented. QR Code scans at public places were implemented. Digital contact tracing became a norm.
- Temperature screening was also implemented at public places.
- Public in general were no longer comfortable using hard cash for transactions for there was fear of contracting the virus through the paper currency. Cashless transactions spiked exponentially.
Life in 2021 and beyond
We have begun to see a faint light at the end of the tunnel, however, there is still quite a lot of distance to cover. It will either take a long time to go back to pre Covid-19 times or we may never see that again. The road to recover from this pandemic is long and arduous. It will not come as a surprise if it were to be a bumpy ride too. Even as we wait for this to unfold further, here’s what we can expect to continue or happen in the times to come:
- We will all exercise safety measures, proactively and consciously. There will always be a pack of wet wipes, hand sanitizers, a spare face mask in our bags. Better to be safe than sorry isn’t it?
- Work from home is here to stay. This could either result in salary revisions or changes to work timings. Some organizations are already considering revising salaries of people to match to the locations they are working from. Brace yourselves for a shift in the lifestyle.
- Vaccine: to get vaccinated or to not is the question on everyone’s mind. Covid-19 vaccine is now being distributed by the manufactures. Leaders are preparing for vaccinating the residents of their countries. Personally, I will just get it and get done with it.
- Gone are the days of greeting friends and family with a hug. Not even a high five! We are now in the era of fist bumps. But before you go on them enthusiastically, please take that point ring of your fingers!
- Keep washing your hands frequently and wash them some more. Practicing good hygiene will continue to be emphasized even more.
- High likelihood of increased economic inequality between the rich and the poor, increased nationalism, increased political divide.
- Online teaching will continue for children. Experts say this could have lasting effects on both physical and mental health.
- While restrictions on Global Travel might start to ease down, be prepared for an extended time of check-in and check-out at the airports.
- Flatten the curve rhetoric will be around for a while. To vaccinate a large percentage of the global population, it is expected to take almost all of 2021 and potentially sometime into 2022. As a result, achieving the herd immunity will take a while.
- There are also concerns raised on the longevity of the vaccination. We just must wait it out and see.
- There are new variants of the virus and these have begun to spread. While the pharmaceutical companies might take time to either release a vaccine for these or a potential booster type of a dose, be prepared for lockdowns incase the increase in the infected cases rise drastically.
You have survived a life changing event. Not just for you or me as an individual, but for the planet. For generations to come, 2020 will be a year to tell how we survived a pandemic that changed our lives forever.
This pandemic brought out the worst in some and at the same time, it also got the best out of most of us. It shed the light back on things that truly matter in our lives, everyday things that we often took for granted. Human contact, freedom of movement, nature, relationships and more. I’ve never seen people follow their passion as much they did during the last year, including me.
Health care workers – doctors, nurses, frontline workers displayed what human spirit is all about. Their sacrifices, their struggle made us want to do the right thing. We can never thank them enough for what they endured in the last year.
The collective resilience we have all shown is inspiring for the ages to come. Communities all over helped each other to survive the pandemic and are continuing to do so. Together, we have stood tall, together we have put in our best foot forward. Together we have made conscious efforts to curb the spread.
Whatever the future may hold for all of us, the fight in us will not die, the triumph of the human spirit will continue. We will outlive this and more.
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