Chronology of COVID-19 Outbreak and Its Global Impact

How It Started

When the whole world was preparing to bid goodbye to year 2019 and welcome enthusiastically to year 2020, slowly but steadily coronaviruses (a diverse family of viruses which have spiky projection on their surface with an appearance of a crown – corona means crown in Latin and that is how these viruses got their name) began to spread their wings in the most populous city in Central China known for its political, economic, cultural, and educational activities, called Wuhan.

What was thought to be a few routine cases of pneumonia (infection of lungs) turned out to be a novel virus outbreak and later on, on January 9, 2020, the WHO (World Health Organization) officially came out with a statement mentioning that Chinese researches have found novel virus called coronavirus which was named as COVID-19 (coronavirus disease, year 2019).

COVID-19 pandemic arrived on the whole world stage with a bang and has taken the human race under its monumental clutch and the laidback human race, which always boasts of great achievements like landing on Moon many a times and so many other spectacular and groundbreaking milestones in various fields of human development including science and technology and social index, failed miserably to gauge in advance the scale of its spread. The monster virus stamped its authority in no time and spread rapidly to each nook and corner of the globe and it is now omnipresent and not spared even islands.

Less than three months ago, COVID-19 pandemic was confined just to China but now, the whole world has come under its grip such that even the richest and powerful country like USA could do nothing but remain a helpless spectator and is losing human lives daily in big numbers and till date, has reported around 18,000 deaths.  The other developed countries like France, Spain and Italy have also been the worst hit as of now.  Currently, the total death has already crossed 1 million.

Moth than the numbers of death, what COVID-19 virus has done is it has brought all types daily activities both at individual and social levels to a grinding halt – virtually it has put a full stop to vital economic and social activities that human race needs to survive on the planet.

Adding to the world misery, there is no COVID-19 vaccine in sight yet, no doubt human causalities will still be taking place on a massive scale in many nations in the near future.  The only alternative now left to the world to save innocent lives from COVID-19 pandemic is social distancing -a social vaccine and complete lockdown.

Measures to Tackle COVID-19

To arrest this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, governments all over the world have resorted to two things as mentioned above – social distancing, complete lockdown and personal hygiene.  Country like India has also followed the suit and is now on a 21-day lockdown.  As a result of national lockdown, the ebb and flow in routine normal life is not seen any where and people at large have confined themselves to their respective homes which is a never-before experience for them.

India is leaving no stone unturned to make its citizens to fall in line for their safety and prevent virus to spread on a large scale.  But the efforts of government machinery has still not yielded a satisfactory result as deaths are taking place though not large numbers but still has not been able to flatten the curve yet.

Lockdown Measures, Social Distancing and Person Hygiene

it is reported in the media daily of around 5-10% population not adhering to social distancing and lockdown giving nightmares and jitters to government machinery as community spread is the last thing that India can ill afford at this juncture.  It is of note that community spread is the third phase of pandemic which is the worse phase and may lead to human deaths in thousands or even in millions.

Noncompliance of lockdown:  The main reason for noncompliance of social distancing from some section of citizens may clearly be linked to callousness and absence of social responsibility at the individual level.  This section of citizen may come under “everybody responsibility is no body responsibility” attitude.  TV channels show daily how this group of citizens for no reason are coming out and exposing themselves and becoming carrier to other fellow citizens.

The following airtight approach may be the worth trying:

Hyperlocal Approach

Hot-spot areas to be identified and contained with hyperlocal planning i.e. entry and exit points to sealed.  Door-to-door survey and test to done to avoid community spread of COVID-19.  Petrol supply to public may be temporarily taken off in and around neighboring areas where pocket of spread is found:  It will go a long way in preventing COVID-19 outbreak to further spread in densely populated areas.  Seizure of rule violator vehicle does not give 100% result while cutting off the petrol supple will.

Stay-at-home Approach

Asking people to stay at home has yielded very good result but very good result is not enough in case of novel pandemic like COVID-19 and what may be the need of hour is an airtight approach to extract 100% compliance.  Many are venturing out daily with excuse or maybe, genuine reason to buy daily essential despite clear-cut request/warning by administration thereby exposing themselves to COVID-19 virus as well as the society at large.  Therefore, home delivery of daily essentials including medicines may be given utmost importance by ramping up and widening the supply network.

Psychological Approach

While COVID-19 outbreak has brought people to discuss and analysis topics which can help prevent its spread ranging from social distancing to personal hygiene, very few have touched upon a subject that is equally important the psychological aspect.  There are some experts on psychological behavior have expressed serious concern of long-drawn lockdown as it disrupts the normal life of an individual.  They have pointed out imposed conferment of the citizen might affect the mental health of an individual.  Some have gone further and warn of mental health problems after the COVID-19 outbreak is totally eradicated.

Emotional Disturbance

There may be issues of serious psychological fallouts such as symptoms of emotional disturbance, depression, stress, difficulty sleeping, low mood, irritability and anger and in extreme case some might develop suicidal tendency.  This particular group of citizen has not been able to respond adequately to this never-before experience of home confinement.  So suddenly when someone is asked to do so; it is quite natural for this group to be noncompliant.  One example of psychological fallout is a case that took place in Mangalore where a teenager, not able to meet his friends during this lockdown period, smuggled him in mid night putting him in a huge suitcase to meet him.

Psychological Burden

The thought of staying indoor for so long might take a toll.  Boredom, low mood/motivation, and irritation and accumulation of all these lead to frustration which does cause rule violation in a small segment of the total population.  This particular group demonstrates weak psychological capacity to respond positively to any forced confinement even if it is for their own well being.  Because of this glaring inadequate psychological response capacity, many tend to get suffocated at home and let loose themselves and venture out.  So this psychological problem may be addressed through online or home counseling taskforce and counseling using media – both print and electronic media and other available means.

So addressing the psychological aspect of the above problem is the need of the hour.

Positive Side TO COVID-19 Outbreak

Since long, the world has failed abysmally in controlling the global warming for its own benefit which is now at a very dangerous level accompanied with very serious air pollution level.  The most air-polluted cities all over the world including in India which have done little to improve air pollutants, have suddenly found a great friend in COVID-19 viruses.  Nation-wide lockdown has substantially cut down movements of all types of vehicles on road and stopped works in big factories and big manufacturing houses leading to improved air quality everywhere.

Therefore, no doubt, COVID-19 outbreak is taking a very heavy toll on the whole world unprecedented in human history on the economic, political and social fronts and the world is now in deep turmoil with deaths occurring daily averaging from 1000 to 2000 every day but the significant environmental changes occurring side by side, though in small measures is definitely a silver lining across the horizon.  Long neglected and exploited to the hilt with utter distain by the greedy and irresponsible world community, the nature has taken upon itself to do the balancing act and take care of itself, thus acting as a great leveler.  Visible cleaner air levels are reported by environmental experts across globe.

Lastly, while more than 200 countries have been affected, still surprisingly some few fortunate nations like Vanuatu, South Sudan, Tonga, Sao Tome and Principe; Tuvalu; , Tajikistan, Solomon Islands; Samoa, , Yemen of the world’ are rather lucky to be free of this virus.  Most of these nations are island nations and their significantly low population density leading to social distancing and self-isolation from the rest of the world have paid rich dividends.