We Are in This Together

Covid-19 must necessarily have a sobering effect on mankind. Major existential lessons have to be learnt

By Mrinal Roy

The world has been jolted and stunned by the rising death toll and widespread havoc wreaked by Covid-19. All the countries of the world have been overrun and infected by the virus. The world’s largest economy, the United States is the most affected country with more than 435,000 cases of Covid-19 which is some three times the number of cases in Spain and Italy which are after the US the most infected countries in the world. The number of cases registered in the US is also more than five times the official number of cases recorded in China, where the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic originated in December 2019. France also has more Covid-19 cases and more than three times the number of deaths than in China.

The chequered road to normality will have to be a step by step and cautious process. Photo: irishtimes.com

Despite the grim situation, we must remember that the outcome of the battle against Covid-19 is in our own hands as it is through person to person contamination that the virus which is very contagious survives and spreads in the country. Human beings are its vector of transmission.

Breaking the chain

The chain of contamination of the virus can therefore be broken and its spread in the country halted by enforcing a complete lockdown of the country and a strict confinement of people in their homes to prevent the risk of infection and transmission of the virus through person to person contact. Rigid social distancing norms and rigorous hygiene precautions such as regularly washing our hands with soap also help minimize the risk of infection. Strict confinement of people in their homes also prevent undetected carriers of the virus infect people. Furthermore, contact tracing helps flush out persons who have been infected through contact with carriers of the virus. Hotspots of infection must therefore be cordoned off in order to trace and stem the virus in the area through rigorous disinfection and systematic testing. We need to come to a point when they are no new cases of Covid-19 detected in the country during a certain period.

Without new persons to infect, the spread of the virus which has a short life span can be stopped. Once the virus is eliminated from the country, Mauritius being an island will be protected from the risk of new infections so long as the country does not take the risk of opening its borders to foreign carriers of the virus. Pre-Covid-19 normality can only be envisaged when the virus is eliminated from the world. The chequered road to normality will therefore have to be a step by step and cautious process to avoid the risk of a resurgence of the virus and its dire consequences.

The country cannot therefore condone any undisciplined behaviour by some who flout the curfew, risk being infected and spread the virus as well as putting their lives and those of others at risk.

The onus is therefore squarely on all the citizens of the country to be disciplined and to strictly abide by the confinement rules enforced in the country. Such a responsible stance will save lives and free the country from the deadly menace of Covid-19.

The world must remember that we are all in this together. We can only win this battle if we join hands to combat and eliminate the virus from our midst in a concerted manner by ensuring through a strict confinement of people at home that the virus finds no new person to infect and to spread.

Existential lessons

In a very short span of time, the virus has radically transformed our lives. Confinement has put an end to our daily rat race and replaced it by the conviviality and simple joys of family life and the pleasures of cooking and enjoying healthy homemade food. It has thus significantly cut down the consumption of unhealthy fast food and put a stop to indulgence in post work happy hours. The lockdown imposed in some of the most polluting counties in the world has also significantly reduced or shut down industrial output and caused a sharp drop in road traffic across the world. This has drastically reduced carbon emissions and pollution in the world and provided a welcome breather in the world’s battle against polluting industries and countries which continue to belch carbon emissions in the atmosphere despite the overwhelming scientific evidence of an impending climate change disaster on planet Earth.

Covid-19 has also exposed the vulnerability and helplessness of mankind in front of a microscopic virus despite the pointed and state of the art advances made in medical science and knowledge as well as in so many scientific fields. Covid-19 must necessarily have a sobering effect on mankind. Major existential lessons have to be learnt.

Nature’s backlash

It is patently evident to all except those who continue to bury their heads in the sand that the reckless despoiling of the environment and wanton human interventions on nature have negative impacts. The trade-off cannot systematically be at the expense of nature and the planet. The resilience of nature and ecosystems to human depredation has its limits. The destructive fallouts of climate change on planet Earth is a case in point. Humans must learn that if they push nature too far, there will be a devastating backlash.

Has human depredation of nature, deforestation, encroachment on animal habitats, the illegal hunt of endangered species and biodiversity loss spawned Covid-19? Tinkering with nature upsets the laws of nature. Is it not therefore high time to change tack and ensure that all policy decisions are in harmony with and diligently protect Nature and the environment for the benefit of mankind and future generations?

Reshaping the future

Covid-19 has also enabled the world to adapt to the lockdown through the use of modern technologies. Video conferencing has enabled multinational companies carry on their business and meetings without having to travel. The corporate world is discovering that video conferencing is more flexible, family friendly, more environmentally sustainable and significantly reduces business travel costs. We will certainly see a drastic cut down in business travel costs when things get back to normal.

Working from home has also caused office colleagues to create online spaces, akin to a virtual coffee corner, to interact, brainstorm, innovate and adapt positively to the new circumstances. Similarly, the lockdown has boosted the prospects of streaming services like Amazon and Netflix and risk sidelining traditional players in the sector. E-commerce and digital platforms have grown and extended their scope and field of activity. These changes are here to stay and will reshape the future. The business world will therefore need to take on board these path breaking changes and adapt accordingly.

The Covid-19 pandemic has also helped underscore the generous philanthropy of billionaires like Jack Ma of Alibaba, Bill Gates founder of Microsoft, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and others who are multiplying efforts to help the world fight the Covid-19 crisis as opposed to those among the extremely rich who find the crisis an opportunity to profit from it and accumulate even more wealth.

The lockdown due to the Covid-19 therefore provides opportunities to all to innovate and operate differently with the help of the wide toolkit of modern technologies. It is thus an opportunity for economic actors from diverse sectors to critically review and replace their outdated modus operandi by innovative new ways of operating taking full advantage of the wide range of pointed technologies available. In a highly competitive marketplace, those who fail to innovate and adapt to stay ahead of the game will do so at their own risk and peril.

* Published in print edition on 10 April 2020

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