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Generic image used for illustrative purposes Image Credit: Pixabay

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

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Frequent hand washing is the first line of defence against coronavirus Image Credit: Supplied

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.

Did you know
On average it takes around two months before a new behaviour becomes automatic -- 66 days to be exact

2. It has unleashed a war against germs and pathogens

Sharjah Municipality workers carrying out a disinfection drive in Al Nasiriyah areaa Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

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

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Recent weeks have seen families spending lots of time together even if under stressful conditions

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

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Empty roads mean less accidents Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan, Gulf News

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

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The waters at the Grand Canal run clear in the absence of boat traffic Image Credit: Reuters

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

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A nurse assists a COVID-19 patient at an isolation ward Image Credit: AFP

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

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Oprah Winfrey and Akshay Kumar are among scores of celebs who have donated

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

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A woman plays violin from a balcony in front of La Macarena church, on April 9, 2020, in Seville, after Easter processions were cancelled during a national lockdown to prevent the spread of the COVID-16 disease. In the week leading up to Easter Sunday, hundreds of colourful processions featuring penitents in cone-shaped hoods and centuries-old religious floats traditionally flood the streets of villages and cities across Spain. But with a nationwide lockdown in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus, Spaniards this year are finding ways to mark Holy Week from their homes, by blasting religious music from their balconies or viewing videos of last year's parades. / AFP / CRISTINA QUICLER / TO GO WITH AFP STORY "Locked-down Spain celebrates Holy Week with music and humour" by Alvaro VILLALOBOS Image Credit: AFP

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

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A doctoral researcher observes cells that produce the structural proteins of the coronavirus in a chemical engineering lab that is developing a rapid test for Covid-19 at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Monday, April 6, 2020. Researchers at the University are developing a new test to detect antibodies in people with suspected COVID-19 in a simpler way, faster and cheaper than the PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test, which is currently being applied. Photographer: Maria Magdalena Arrellaga/Bloomberg Image Credit: Bloomberg

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

Coronavirus encourages people to rekindle long lost hobbies
Coronavirus encourages people to rekindle long lost hobbies Image Credit: Twitter

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.