Would the lessons from Coronavirus pandemic usher a new world order with strong social institutions, high moral and ethical standards, compassion, and human-consciousness?
In December 2019 in Wuhan city in China, an infectious disease named Covid-19 caused by one kind of coronavirus was reported to have emerged.
These kind of viruses are called coronaviruses because corona means crown or circlet which refers to the way the virus looks when viewed under the microscope; there is a crown on the top of the virus.
Some of these viruses, around four or five different kinds, cause common diseases among humans such as common cold and mild to moderate respiratory illnesses. There are other kinds of Coronaviruses that affect animal species that can occasionally jump onto humans.
The 2019 Coronavirus is a new kind of coronavirus never seen in humans before. The theoretical explanation for this is that the disease originally was transmitted from animal species to humans and then started to spread far and wide.
Some individuals have succumbed to this disease and died, particularly the elderly due to their low immunity, and affected many others and the efficacious trend continues. It is not known yet how severe the disease is and how far it will spread.
Since Covid-19 is a new disease, experts are still learning more about it as well as about its spread; how it transmits from person-to-person?
It is already known in modern medicine that most respiratory diseases spread by large droplets when individuals cough or sneeze and travel as far as two meters landing on surfaces which humans end up touching and the spread of the disease ensues.
This is how the Coronavirus spreads as well.
People infected with the Covid-19 experience mild to moderate respiratory illness including cough, fever, and shortness of breath but recover without requiring special treatment.
However, in severe cases which often affect the elderly and those with some underlying medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer can potentially lead to severe respiratory problems, kidney failure, and even death.
Currently, there is no specific treatment for the virus and, therefore, the medical advice is that the best way to prevent and slow down the transmission of Coronavirus from person-to-person is to practise good hygiene such as regularly washing of the hands and avoid touching the face and good practise of respiratory etiquette, for example, by coughing into a tissue or handkerchief.
COVID – 19 has been reported to have spread in many parts of the world having serious medical and economic impacts on societies. With its extremely vast spread the Coronavirus is impacting on many different facets of our everyday living.
There may be a long term effect of this pandemic that our pattern of daily rituals and practices have fundamentally changed. It seems that we have been thrust to a new way of being-in-the-world as we come to terms with the fact that touching things, being with our family and friends and fellow citizens, and breathing the air in an enclosed space can be perilous.
Given that the medical experts have forecasted the prevalence of Covid-19 to continue for months yet, could this become the “new norm” to retreat from shaking hands, hugging, or touching our faces?
The “new norm” could manifest itself in replacing the face-to-face personal interaction or being in the presence of others with an online interaction. We might start questioning the goodness of face-to-face interaction and permanently settle for online engagement.
If this will occur, then there will be some definite losers. Those without easy access to broadband will be definitely disadvantaged creating greater distance between those who can afford online means of communication and those who cannot.
On another level, paradoxically whilst the online communication will increase our level of communication with one another, it will at the same time increase the physical distance between people and we will start to lose that “human touch”; our essence that separates us as humans from other living beings.
However, this is not the only way of looking at the impact of Covid-19 on societies. Apart from the obvious health impact there is a serious spiritual impact too. The latter has received basically no attention in secular modernity.
The Coronavirus pandemic has raised some important questions about organised and institutionalised religion such as Islam. Can Islam and other world religions survive the Coronavirus crisis and if so what will become of them?
Will keeping the faith through congregational rituals and practices such as juma prayer for Muslims be possible or congregational rituals and practices will become cyberspaced? These are some of the questions the religious people and their leaders and scholars will now have to grapple with.
Importantly, no doubt that the Coronavirus pandemic has brought an end to our love-affair with the market economy and hyper-individualism. It is possible that the Coronavirus will steer us in another direction.
Since we have witnessed the market-based models for economic activity and social organisation fail so miserably and catastrophically – the USA is planning for a two-trillion dollar plus stimulus/rescue package and Australia is planning for a two hundred billion dollar stimulus/rescue package – it will be criminal of us as global citizens to rest on our laurels and do zilch.
Once the Coronavirus pandemic subsides our reorientation towards politics must change and we must demand our political leaders and community chiefs to move away from focusing on “war on terror” and state territorial defence to making substantial new investments in public goods – especially health, education, transportation, and public services.
It is worth noting that the modern nation-states that have invested billions of dollars in arms to protect their borders and citizens have failed sadly.
Interestingly, the cleverest idea that any modern nation-state in the face of Coronavirus have come up with is to advice their free-moving citizens to stay-put in the confinement of their homes.
The Coronavirus pandemic must teach us that we are a community of human beings and not, as our political leaders and transnational giants treat us, a set of numbers and bunch of customers.
Our fates are the common link so “Will We Have a New World Order?” We have to say no to expensive fuel sold to us by BP, Mobil, and Shell, we have to stop buying cheap burgers from McDonalds, KFC, Hungry Jacks, and Burger King who exploit our innocent youth.
We have to demand our political leaders and community chiefs for better humane performance, and we have to stipulate to the bureaucrats and technocrats to guarantee that our children receive knowledge in science and theology, and critical thinking skills and that the institution of family and not the institution of employment that sustains us as human beings and upon which the society rests.