What positives can we take from COVID-19, nearly a year on?

COVID-19 has dramatically changed people’s lives and has become a major threat to both life and livelihood.  It is present in at least 190 countries. Today, on 1 December 2020, global figures include 63,602,479 confirmed cases, 496,380 new cases, 1,474,148 total deaths and 8,291 overnight deaths.  One way to compare how the different countries are faring, is to look at the number of cases and the number of deaths per one million of the population.  It is very sobering.  The world is still reeling. There is no denying, this is a serious pandemic that has had many casualties.

The first case of COVID-19 was recorded, as ‘pneumonia of unknown etiology’, on 17 November 2019 in Wuhan City, Hubei Province.  On 31 December 2019, the World Health Organisation (‘WHO’) announced the emergence of a new pathogen, later named COVID-19.  We are nearly at the one year anniversary.  What have we learnt?

While COVID-19 presents a sad and frightening story, like every crisis, there have also been some important lessons and signals of a greater humanity. At a time like this, we need to be able to take all the positives we can.  So what good practices can we say we’ve learnt from COVID-19?

  1. Be kind and keep an eye out for people

    The pandemic has reminded us that it’s important to be kind, and that we never really know what is going on in people’s lives. Instead of going about our days in a hurried, blinkered fashion, many people are thinking ‘what would it be like to be this person at the moment?’ I’ve been touched by seeing people reaching out to neighbours and communities, offering to do the shopping, run errands and get medicines; saying hello to people when walking; offering to help tend to their gardens or walk their dogs; calling up people who live on their own to see how they’re getting on and having a chat or virtual ‘cup of tea’. Many people are at risk of loneliness and at greater risk of mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety. Others still are finding themselves isolated and suffering domestic abuse.

    Look out for everyone, and ask how you can help. Never just assume someone is OK because they’re putting on a brave face.  No-one is immune.  People are what makes the world go around.

  2. Caring for our most vulnerable

    It is not all about ‘you’! Just because perhaps you’re statistically less likely to be badly affected by the virus, doesn’t give you the ticket to go about your life without thinking of others. Yes, lockdowns are difficult for everyone, but we’re doing this to protect us all and this includes our most vulnerable – people who are immuno compromised, have certain preconditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure, and those aged over 65 years. At first, measures to Flatten the Curve were so that we could get enough ventilators, beds and equipment ready. Now it just makes good sense.

    There are many possible complications over getting COVID-19 regardless of your age, and even if you survive the ordeal, you may find you have health issues for many months afterwards. The implications are still not known. Let’s look after everyone.

  3. Sometimes the simple things work best

    While we’re all waiting for a vaccine and it looks like it’s not far away, it is actually the simplest things that can prevent us getting and spreading the virus. These are the same things that the population relied on in 1819 with the global Spanish flu pandemic that also killed so many. These are:

    a. Washing your hands properly. I used to give my hands a fleeting wash and feel like a ‘good girl’. Now I figure, if I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it properly. Watch this video using red paint instead of soap to show you how to make sure all of your hands are washed. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYFWbwgf-2Q

    b. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, nose, ears and face in general. This is where the virus is likely to enter your system.

    c. Wear a mask (properly) when you’re in public, inside without ventilation, anywhere where there are people who are vulnerable. This infographic show how to use it properly https://tinyurl.com/y4nd646o

    d. Social distance by keeping 1.5 metres away from others – supermarkets, footpaths, public transport, parks, the beach, anywhere. If you forget and someone reminds you, don’t get angry at them, thank them for reminding you. https://www.facebook.com/DrWarrenKennedy/videos/510010372887433

    e. Stay at home if you have COVID-19, think you might have it, have been exposed to anyone with the virus or have been tested, for 14 days.

  4. Appreciating and acknowledging our doctors, nurses and health providers

    Our health care workers have been working long days under difficult conditions and putting themselves and their families at risk for a long time now. The efforts they go to in wearing masks and gloves all day and often entire Personal Protective Equipment to prevent the spread of the virus is amazing. They are often providing comfort and company, as well as medical health, and are far too often the only ones with our loved ones when they are dying. May we continue to respect and appreciate them, and listen to what they say. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tkXPGLnDaTQ

  5. Home is where the heart is, it doesn't have to be perfect

    Never before has the statement ‘home is your haven’ been so true. It is one of the few places where we feel truly safe from getting the virus. Make your home your paradise in your most imperfect way. By this I mean, let it bring you joy in its comfort and familiarity, as opposed from it being spotlessly clean and tidy (unless that genuinely excites you).  Broaden you sense of home to include your neighbours and community, checking in on people and offering to help.  Put a teddy bear in your window so kids can spot them while they’re walking – move it each day.  When businesses are open, help those in your local area survive, by buying their goods and services.

  6. We'll always find a way to entertain each other

    Let me entertain you! Who would have thought entertainment would play such an important part of our COVID-19 journey. Yet it was one of the first areas that was shared on social media that moved and amused us all. From opera singers singing from the balconies of Italian apartments, to the wonderful virtual choirs from everybody’s living room to funny songs reworded to a virus them – they’ve all been propulgated on YouTube. They show us that we all love to watch and listen to others performing and sharing being human with each other.

    Here are some of my favourites:

    – Love is in the air – Australian actors et al: https://www.facebook.com/JackmansLanding/videos/223565702213317
    – Couch Choir – Close to You: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HezxInuN1YA
    – This is home truly (Singapore): https://www.facebook.com/VoicesofSingapore/videos/687442282006991
    – My Corona: Chris Mann: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojrtwXqqc6g

    – Italy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBByYjjvNzs


  7. Appreciating and acknowledging our teachers

    Schooling from home has certainly brought its joys and headaches! Engaging with your children’s studies can be immensely rewarding, though it’s challenging keeping up the momento and diversity while doing your own work too. There has been a new appreciation of our teachers for the energy and personality they put into their children at schools. I think every adult has at least one teacher who helped them in a special way or whom they admire. I think that means all the more now as their input feels much more tangible. Remember this when your kids go back to school! Their teachers are real human beings doing their best.

  8. Do we really need to go into work every day?

    Working from home was novel at first and after many months most of us are coping fairly well with it, even if we do miss the company of others. I think it’s unlikely we’ll go back to ‘going into work’ every day for at least a year. So look on the bright side – how much extra time do you have in your day without the commute? What can you consciously do with that time that’s good for you?  Go outside to eat your lunch or sit somewhere different to your desk. What simple chores can you do during the week, because you are home, such as putting on the washing, that will save you time later? Don’t let it interrupt your work, but use your downtime in a wise way.

  9. The environment appreciates having a rest

    Have you looked up at the sky lately and marvelled just how blue it is? It is obviously loving less transport on the roads and less aeroplanes in the sky. How much clearer is the air in our cities from fewer factories operating around the clock and just fewer people about? How many more birds and other creatures are you seeing about in the parks? We can learn from this and clean up our acts. Let’s get real about emissions and the fuels we use now, so that we can live with our environment not against it.

  10. Be your real self and enjoy your life

    Think about what really matters in life, and act accordingly.  Does it really matter if your cat or dog wanders into your Zoom meeting?  It shows that you’re human!  Do you really have to look immaculate every moment you’re with someone?  No, it’s great to dress up, but you don’t have to be like that all the time.  It’s not about lowering standards, but about being more real.  Also, what are some things you can do that make you happy during this time?  Perhaps it’s cooking real food, or learning a language, or doing the crossword, exercising to YouTube, calling a friend each day, or getting out to the garden… there are loads of things you can do that will help keep you happy, healthy and interested.  Some of the most popular social media posts have been about actors and others being real, such as Miranda Hart and and Sam Neill. If it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for us!