The coronavirus pandemic has unleashed a catastrophe of epic proportions. But amid the global upheaval and sufferings several good things have emerged. Gulf News rounds up 19 such silver linings.
1. It has instilled good hand hygiene habits among millions worldwide
For years, health experts have been recommending regular handwashing to keep diseases at bay. Not everyone heeded to their advice. In fact, 69 per cent of men don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom, according to a study. But with coronavirus gaining traction all that has changed and millions are practising good personal hygiene.
2. It has unleashed a war against germs and pathogens
The worldwide disinfection and sanitisation drive have caused a big blow to one of our deadliest enemies -- the many resistant germs and pathogens responsible for infectious diseases like pneumonia, meningitis, common flu, norovirus and HIV to name a few.
3. Given us extra quality time to spend with the family
Family time – a scare and hard-earned thing until recently -- is suddenly in abundance in the era of Stay Home. For the first time since the early 19th century, parents and kids – in some cases even grandchildren – are under the same roof all day.
4. Reduced road accidents
Road accidents account for 3,424 deaths daily or two deaths per minute globally but coronavirus stay-at-home orders have led to a heartening reduction in these numbers. In Washington, for instance, fatal accidents plummeted 100 per cent from 12 to zero between March 16 and March 22 while accidents involving serious injuries declined by 78 per cent. Sharjah too has seen an 85 per cent drop in road accidents.
5. Cleaned the air and water
The pandemic has contributed to a noticeable drop in pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. With streets emptied of people and vehicles, factories shut and flights grounded, the environment is breathing easier.
Skyscrapers shrouded in smog are now visible and waters in Venice’s canals run clearer than ever.
6. Decluttered homes
Homes around the world have become clutter-free with people getting rid of unwanted stuff. Recently, Fay Wolf, author of New Order: A Decluttering Handbook for Creative Folks (and Everyone Else) even hosted a decluttering webinar for people sequestered at home.
7. It has caused a forced slowdown enabling us to pause and reflect
The frenetic pace of modern life had made our lives into an exhausting dailydayathon. But with almost everything shut down and social distancing becoming a norm, the forced slowdown has allowed us to take a pause and catch our breath.
8. Led to a surge in book sales
Book sales appeared to face a bleak future but now their sales have hit new highs as readers seek escapism and education. In the UK alone, sales of fiction have risen by a third, while children’s education have gone up to the third highest level since the coronavirus outbreak.
9. Reduced expenses
What with everything from malls and restaurants to cinemas and clubs closed, we aren’t left with many places to spend our money on. Holidays are ruled out too. Meanwhile public parking in the UAE has been made free and the government has announced discounts in traffic fines.
10. It has made us realise the importance of nurses
All healthcare workers are playing a significant role but perhaps none are more important than nurses. Many are beginning to realise the importance of these frontline soldiers.
11. Encouraged altruism
The pandemic has made us altruistic. Many support groups have stepped forward to aid the poor while corporates and celebs have loosened purse strings to help their governments In Dubai, Emaar Properties announced a donation of Dh100 million to support humanitarian efforts aimed at alleviating the impact of the pandemic. In the US, Oprah Winfrey donated $10 million while in India, Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar pitched in with Rs 250 million.
12. It has reinforced the need to invest in health-related research
More and more countries are now realising that only a sustained and increased investment in health-related research will win the war on coronavirus and provide health and safety to its citizens.
13. Broken the nine-to-six work grid
The new work from home culture has dismantled the nine-to-six lifestyle allowing us to stay focused on the job and mentally healthy while working from home.
14. Free online courses from top universities
As universities scramble to shift their curriculums, online digital course companies Coursera and edX have stepped in to offer access to their vast portfolios of course content. While Coursera has made its Coursera for Campus platform free to higher education institutions impacted by coronavirus, edX is offering a range of free online courses from top universities like Harvard and Imperial College, London. A site called Class Central has also listed free online courses offered by top universities.
15. Free online concerts
Top artistes are live-streaming impromptu concerts for fans stuck indoors. It all started when Coldplay front man Chris Martin shared a 30-minute clip from his intimate at-home performance, during which he played guitar while singing Trouble and A Sky Full of Stars. It didn’t take long for the idea to trend. Within big names like Legend, Pink Keith Urban, Rob Thomas, David Foster and Katharine McPhee also followed suit.
16. Neighbourhood singing
The pandemic has given rise to a new phenomenon – neighbourhood singing. From India to Italy, neighbours have been raising spirits with good old-fashioned sing-along during the lockdown
17. It will make future pandemics less likely
The pandemic has exposed the inadequacies of healthcare system throughout the world and provided an opportunity to improve them. The bitter lessons learned from it will pay dividends in the future and hopefully, help us avoid future pandemics.
18. It has ended wars
The crisis has given an opportunity to end the war in Yemen and Libya and ease hostilities between the Ukraine government and Russian backed rebels in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions.
19. Encouraged people revisit their long lost hobbies
The overabundance of newfound free time has encouraged people confined in homes to revisit childhood hobbies or pick new ones to get a respite from the grim situation.