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What else has the Corona Virus shown us?

On December 31, 2019, the World Health Organization was alerted to several cases of pneumonia (with a completely unknown virus) in Wuhan, China. On January 7, 2020, China confirmed COVID-19. On March 11th, 2020, the WHO declared that the COVID-19 coronavirus global emergency is now a pandemic. While much has been said about the impacts and potential risk mitigations across death / health / business / economy / etc., I want to draw attention towards a few other facts.

Some responsible acts

  • Following guidance from WHO, Governments, Authorities around Social Distancing, sanitization, storing essential items only in limited quantity etc.
  • Individuals and celebs have donated $$ Billions to help fight this pandemic.
  • Governments have set aside $$ Trillions to take care of their citizens.
  • Organizations like Microsoft, Zoom, and Google offered their video conferencing tools free of cost to discourage travels and physical in-person meetings.
  • Select airlines announced that there would be no cancellation fees for folks who want to change their travel plans.
  • Private and Public sectors were mandating/imposing quarantine, curbs on travel. Work from home was becoming the new mantra.
  • Helping people in need. Healthcare professionals, officials in law & order and several volunteers came forward to support.

Some irresponsible acts

  • In Europe for several days, 80% ghost flights (with no passengers) were flying just to retain their flight time slots, before the government announced on March 13th, that they would change the law.
  • Not following quarantine orders-
    • March 8th, 2020 – Thousands march in Madrid, Spain on International Women’s Day
    • March 9th, 2020 – 16 Million people in Italy panicked & tried to flee after the quarantine plan leaked ahead of time
    • March 14th, 2020 – France defies corona virus threat and moves ahead with local elections
    • March 14th, 2020 – Greek Orthodox priest dips same spoon in the mouths of hundreds of parishioners as part of communion during mass
    • March 15th, 2020 – Pastor of a megachurch in South Florida did not heed warnings from officials and encouraged parishioners to participate in large numbers
    • March 16th, 2020 – Russian patient escapes from corona virus quarantine near Moscow. Same day, 11 patients escaped from a hospital in Maharashtra, India.
    • Several people, including celebrities, escaped/absconded quarantine.
    • Hosting congregations (by several religious bodies) by disregarding the advice of Public Health Officials.
  • Deliberately infecting others
    • February 12th, 2020 – In one viral video, a man in Daytong, China can be seen putting spit on elevator buttons. Several folks arrested on similar acts.
    • March 8th, 2020 – Japanese authorities confirmed that one resident who was diagnosed with COVID-19, deliberately visited bars to spread the virus.
  • Joking about the situation and causing chaos
    • March 15th, 2020 – Passenger on American Airlines jokes about having Corona virus, and causes 8 hour delay @ Dallas.
  • Hoarding and profiteering from re-selling of products such as hand sanitizers and toilet paper

Additional Facts

  • With no cruise ships on the coast @ Italy, dolphins are back on the sea shore. With lock downs/shelter-in-place, pollution levels are drastically down. The sky is clearer and clean.
  • Work from Home- I saw several jokes, ranging from “before the Corona Virus kills, the life partners will kill each other while working from home” OR “How long is the lock down going to last, my wife has been trying to enter home for the last 4 days.” However, on a serious note, the harsh reality is that majority of us are struggling in this new model of working from home, leading to higher stress levels.
  • German State finance minister Thomas took his own life on March 29th 2020, after expressing despair over how to handle the economic fallout from Corona Virus.

Potential Learnings

  1. Power of Nature – Time and time again, humans have been reminded that irrespective of all the technological advances, nature is still supreme. We need to respect that and be conscious of our dietary habits or trying to create biological weapons. Sometime back, I had penned similar thoughts on this topic @ https://www.ajaikumar.com/nature-humans-peaceful-co-existence/ . Nature will find a way to balance or reclaim it’s space if we try to imbalance it.
  2. Reminder that we are all equal (irrespective of religion/caste/region) and connected. What happens to one can create exponential effect on the entire humanity.
  3. Power of Technology/social media/internet that has enabled almost real time exchange of info across the globe on best practices on prevention/treatment, but has also caused lot of negative propaganda and loss of productive hours. Technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Video Analytics, Video Conferencing, Cloud etc. are ebing leveraged to help navigate thru these tough times.
  4. Reminds us of what is more important to us in life and helps re-prioritize health/quality family time vs. materialistic things. Our ability to remain happy in any situation is critical. Without compromising the gravity of this pandemic, this forced situation has provided us an opportunity to spend quality time with family, focus on exercise/health and take break from the regular work/study, etc.
  5. Maturity of one & all plays an important role in our response to such pandemic. It is not the uncertainty, but the lack of clarity on how to address the uncertainties, that makes things more complicated.
  6. Humanity is still alive. People in the medical field have gone all the way to support patients during these tough times, without caring for their own health and in some cases, even without proper gear and protective medical supplies.
  7. Power of clean crisp communication from the leaders. Several parts of the globe could have been saved from hysteria, commotion and undue stress if only their leaders had communicated on time and with clarity.
  8. Ability of governments/society to interpret/act swiftly, when similar situations arise. Majority of the times, these will include tough decisions like immediate lock-downs (which could disrupt normal life & economy but would save lives). In these times of crisis, we have seen examples of great governance by a few countries that can be replicated across the world.
  9. Avoid inducing unnecessary pressure on self as well as on authorities who are trying to help us fight this pandemic.
  10. Importance of “true risk mitigation” by reducing dependence on only one source/location/time zone and have effective “business continuity plans” which can be executed smoothly.

In the end, I would like to recommend that we should all stay safe, keep others around us safe while following mandates by Government & Health Officials.

BE SAFE! BE COMPLIANT! BE RESPONSIBLE! & most importantly STAY HAPPY!

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