“Sometimes when you’re in a dark place you think you’ve been buried, but you’ve actually been planted.” — Christine Caine
The world has been gripped by the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic which has rendered the entire world scrambling for cover and in total panic, spurred on by the constant reporting by the media. People are dying in their hundreds on a daily basis. This has resulted in countries shutting down entire societies and limiting movement. Businesses have been forced to suspend operations, with more people ordered to stay home and a handful, those deemed to be key workers, allowed to continue their official duties in their places of work. Others who do not need to be physically located in their offices now work from home.
The other day whilst out shopping, I encountered a difficult situation this lockdown poses to many people out in their communities. I was in a queue which had formed outside my local Waitrose. Most people, I admit, were following the social distancing advice of two metres apart. Behind me, I overheard a conversation between two women. Turning around for a quick glance, I saw a young woman in a face mask with a baby pram. She was chatting with a slightly older lady who was standing about six feet behind her. Apparently, the older lady was concerned the younger had her baby out shopping in the midst of a pandemic. I thought this was a diffcult situation going by what the mother was saying. She was all alone and being a single parent, had no way of leaving the baby in the house all by himself. How do people in such situations deal with shopping where we are instructed to social distance and not visit those who do not live with us? One might argue that people in these circumstances should perhaps move in with family members. What if some of these people do not have family members living close by or in same cities, towns or villages? Do bear in mind also that there are many elderly folks who do not have friends or families and are not exactly neighbourly. The government and local bodies including neighbourhood watch groups have indeed tried to mitigate risks to these vulnerable individuals by ensuring increased communication and support. Nonetheless, there will be many who will fall through the cracks. For these and many others, the unintended consequences of these lockdowns will be huge!
It is also being reported that the economic impact of these lockdowns will cost countries dearly and perhaps exceed the 2008 global financial crisis. What is actually being discussed right now is not necessarily to what extent outputs will be reduced but if output stands the risk of disappearing altogether!
Whilst we focus on the economic impact of these draconian measures and financial bailouts, it is equally worthwhile to think of individuals’ physical and mental health. As reported by the Manchester Evening News, domestic abuse calls to the National Domestic Abuse hotline rose by 120% over a 24 hour period since the Coronavirus lockdown was enforced.
According to weforum.org report, the “lockdown is the world’s biggest psychological experiment – and we will pay the price”. The Lancet published a review of 24 studies which documented the psychological impact of quarantine. These findings highlight the health risks such as acute stress disorder, depression, low moods and so on to hundreds of millions of households globally. It further argues that successful quarantine measures as a public health strategy must seek to reduce, as far as possible, any resulting negative effect.
This is indeed a trying time for many. Locking down entire societies may be seen as the best measure in managing this outbreak and reducing the potential death rate, we must however also bear in mind that at some point, when society reopens, it may not be business as usual. We must encourage everyone to have hope and believe that no matter how difficult things may seem at the moment, there will always be support for them, where and if they need it.
Children are not exempt from these challenges. They must be made to feel secure and at the same time not wrapped in cotton as though they are fragile little creatures. Most are as resilient as they come and must be made to feel confident that life, although challenging as it may be, builds strong and resourceful future adults.
We must not allow the cure for this pandemic become even worse than the disease. I believe at some point, governments must start considering their exit strategy and not allow this lockdown extend beyond what is necessary.
Note: If you live in the UK and you or anyone you know is a victim of domestic abuse or suffering from any form of mental illness, please seek help and follow instructions as advised by the UK government here.
Tracking the global impact of the Covid-19 pandemic https://www.bain.com/insights/tracking-the-global-impact-of-the-coronavirus-outbreak-snap-chart/