Pandemics have often changed the motion of human history. Human history and natural history can no longer be separated, human health and the health of the planet go together. No one would ever have thought that we could experience a virus that drastically changes our lifestyles in such a short period of time. The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates how much we depend on nature for our health systems. Researchers said that infectious diseases and viruses can spread easily due to destruction of biodiversity and ecosystem, of which COVID-19 has emerged as the most destructive one.
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is the disease caused by a novel coronavirus now called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2, formerly called 2019-nCoV), which was first identified in the large animal market in Wuhan, in the Chinese province of Hubei, at the end of 2019. The World Health Organization (WHO) has given the disease the official name COVID-19, short for CoronaVIrus Disease-2019, while the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV), has assigned the official name SARS-CoV-2 to the virus that causes the disease.
Time really flies. The novel coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19 already spread across the world. It has swept through countries and continents caused untold human suffering, social upset and economic damage. With the rapidly spreading COVID-19 pandemic, the humankind is going through a new and unprecedented experience. As long as the world has not found a cure or a vaccine for COVID-19, we have to adjust a ‘new normal’, meaning a new way of living and going about our lives, work and interactions with other people.
New normal is a term used to reflect a change in society, particularly in relation to business and economics. Experts are saying the coronavirus will pass, but life will never be ‘normal’ again. This is the ‘new normal’ life and it would be difficult to go back and live the way we used to. We have been forced to quickly adapt to ‘new norms’ due to this pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed, and will continue to change the world. It could be potentially fundamental changes which would take a decisive turn from this moment of the new normal era. The reality is the world will never be the same after coronavirus. We cannot re-write the chapters of history already past, but we can learn from them, evolve and adapt. The new normal may even be a better normal, certainly different normal.
The novel coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19 has definitely shaken humankind to its core, undoubtedly affected our economy, society, humanity, business, education, global trade in an unprecedented way. It has transformed the lives of humans everywhere. COVID-19 has paralyzed socio-economic activities across the world. Bangladesh is equally affected by this contagion and provided huge challenges to Bangladesh economy. This new normal era will unprecedently introduce in tremendous changes the world and enormous challenges:
First, in a post-COVID-19 era, technology will rule the world and there will be revolution in digital regulations. Accelerated use of digital applications will create a new social and economic order. The COVID-19 lockdown has intensified our dependency on Internet and Communication Technology (ICT), mobile apps, social media and so on. Tech gigants like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Alibaba, Youtube etc. equipped with invaluable user data and artificial intelligence, will keep expanding their services to almost all sectors.
Second, during the COVID-19 pandemic schools, colleges, universities and other institutions are going to online platforms such as Zoom, Google classroom, digital classroom, Microsoft Teams etc for regular classes and exams. This pandemic has indeed reshaped our education system, and learning methods in the future may never be the same again. In addition, students in remote areas experience very weak and unstable internet connections, which makes the establishment of an e-learning platform challenging.
Third, the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly affecting the global economy. The post-coronavirus pandemic, our growing economy may face a tremendous and unimaginable shock. The on-going problems will intensify because of unemployment, food crisis, transportation problems, remittance shortage, negative export position and so on.
COVID-19 will force to E-commerce, so that efficient e-commerce companies will be doing a lot more business. All business should establish on online presence to limit person to person physical contact and consequently reduce the number of newly infected cases. Robotics equipped with artificial intelligence will replace a lot of jobs in factories. There will be increased reliance on robots. Robots will play an important role in a post-COVID-19 world.
In Bangladesh, a huge number of people live from hand to mouth. Around 15 million people in Bangladesh are projected to become ‘new poor’ due to unemployment and adaptation to the ‘new normal’ in the post-COVID-19 situation.
Fourth, people will become more health conscious after coronavirus era, as health care and telemedicine will get priority. COVID-19 is highlighting serious deficiencies in our existing system. High-quality and accessible healthcare service for all people are not luxury, but a basic requirement for public health, as we have been witnessing in these coronavirus days.
Fifth, it is undeniable that COVID-19 has transformed the lives of humans everywhere. Thus there will be big lifestyle changes. Social change can come from many places and with many influences. We need to change our lifestyles and learn to live more in syn and harmony with the planet.
Sixth, the pandemic has shown that in order to have a functioning political and economic system, we need to think about creating a welfare state that takes care of the social classes in need. As a result of the pandemic, governments will become more powerful. COVID-19 has sharpened great power politics. The twin strategies of lockdown and isolation, aimed at creating physical distance among people to prevent the spread of infection, brings into question the continuance of mass, collective politics and the endurance of the public democratic spheres in the near future.
Seventh, the coronavirus pandemic has led to widespread changes in human behavior and reductions in the levels of pollution. A group of environmental researchers has called for the conservation of nature to be at the center of the economic recovery from the pandemic. As soon as the pandemic is over, we must revitalize our nature, conservation governance systems. A green strategy that will help us build back better after coronavirus can support sustainable development. Researchers echoed the notion that better biodiversity and ecosystem can play a crucial role in preventing such a pandemic in the future.
It is important to note that, the coming times shall prove to be challenging for one and all. Therefore, our best response depends on global cooperation, empathy and community building that will benefit the society and economy at large. This is our chance to reinvent and create a better planet where we can live in the new normal world. At the end of discussion I would like to mention New York Times bestselling author Mandy Hale captures the new thinking best in her quote: “Trust the wait. Embrace the uncertainty. Enjoy the beauty of becoming. When nothing is certain, anything is possible.” Hopefully we will overcome this pandemic together and our future generation need to inherit an earth that is cleaner, greener, smarter and safer for them.
(The different sources of information are acknowledged with gratitude)
Writer: Lecturer, Department of Philosophy, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh.
(Dhakatimes/09 August 2020/RK)