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HomeBlogNot Everything Is Dark: The COVID-19 Pandemic Also Has a Silver Lining

Not Everything Is Dark: The COVID-19 Pandemic Also Has a Silver Lining

By: Medix Team
Not Everything Is Dark: The COVID-19 Pandemic Also Has a Silver Lining

The air has become cleaner, celebrities are pitching in to raise awareness and healthcare workers are the new superheroes. It's a bit hard to believe, but the deadly outbreak also has some positive side effects

In these complex times, when many of us are isolated in our homes out of fear of the COVID-19 pandemic raging outside, it can seem as if darkness has taken over. Existential questions consume us as we anxiously watch news updates around the clock.

 

But amidst all the hardship and anxiety, there are also quite a few rays of light, stories of social solidarity, good deeds and examples of mutual aid that can lift our spirits. Here are some particularly optimistic ones.

Heroes of the Hour: Medical Staff

The ones leading the fight against the COVID-19 outbreak are medical teams, who devote themselves to treating patients and are tirelessly working to contain the pandemic's spread. Their efforts did not go unnoticed: millions around the world opened their hearts to Doctors, Nurses and other medical personnel.

 

In many countries, medical staff members have been showered with appreciation and support: from gratitude and support rallies for the benefit of medical teams who volunteered to help in Wuhan, China, to the "adopt a doctor" project, which called on the public via social media to help medical professionals fighting the virus, by donating medical equipment and masks, preparing and ordering hot meals, babysitting for their children and more.

 

These gestures are being organised the world over and have gone beyond the boundaries of social networks. Hotels around the world who had to temporarily close down because of the crisis announced that they would host, free of charge, any medical team member who needs to be in isolation due to exposure to a COVID-19 patient. The most well-known gesture of appreciation that began on social media is, of course, the mass rounds of applause for medical teams, which have become a symbol of support all over the world.

 

Alongside these gestures of compassion, many companies and corporations have also joined up to support medical teams. Facebook and Apple donated millions of masks to hospitals across the United States. Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba, donated masks, COVID-19 tests and protective equipment to hospitals in various countries, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

The World Is Pitching in to Help the Elderly

Older people are most at risk of being exposed to COVID-19, mortality rates in this population segment are the highest, and in many cases, they can develop severe complications. That is why many of them decide to remain in their homes, rather than risk being infected. This choice presents various difficulties beyond loneliness and separation from their familiar environment. Some find it difficult to cook by themselves and take care of their medical needs, while others are simply very anxious and have no one around to help them. Many young people were inspired to help their older neighbours by going shopping for them, and others are paying digital visits to strangers, so they don’t feel so alone.

 

British food chains, including Aldi, Iceland and Tesco, announced that they will have designated hours each day only for the elderly, so they could have the option to comfortably shop for groceries without being exposed to young people who have possibly been infected. A similar initiative has taken place in the United States and several other countries. In Japan, an organisation called the Dementia Prevention Program found a particularly creative way to help older people in the country get through the quarantine period, both mentally and physically: YouTube videos with exercise activities specifically tailored for them.

Meals & Shelter for the Homeless

The homeless are another group which is at risk, without an option for proper isolation or home-quarantine. This situation led to countless moving gestures around the world. For example, organisers of the Cannes Film Festival in France, which was cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak, decided to convert the festival's main venue into a shelter for the homeless during the nation-wide lockdown enacted by President Emmanuel Macron.

 

In Hong Kong, ImpactHK, an organisation assisting homeless people, raised funds to help  them with food, masks and hygiene products. Some of the volunteers even took it one step further and invited some of the homeless people to join them in their own homes or found them other forms of shelter for the duration of the crisis.

Celebrities Raise Awareness via Entertainment

One of the biggest challenges of this time is acquiring new habits, like social distancing or proper hand hygiene. All over the world, campaigns have sought to raise awareness, calling us to wash our hands, stay home and follow authorities’ guidelines. These initiatives caused quite a few celebrities to gladly take the lead, turning things much more entertaining and fun.

 

One of the most viral videos was produced by  esteemed most director and comedian Mel Brooks and his son Max, who, in a rather amusing way, advocated for the importance of social distancing – even when it comes between  father and son.

 

Singer Gloria Gaynor “broke the internet” with a video in which she sang her hit song, "I Will Survive" while washing her hands to raise awareness of this simple and important action.

 

New York became one of the biggest hotspots of the outbreak, with numbers of confirmed cases rising daily.  Governor Andrew Cuomo has recruited many local celebrities, including Robert De Niro, Ben Stiller and Danny DeVito, to take part in a video series with a clear message to New Yorkers: "Stay Home. Stop the Spread. Save Lives".

The Positive Effect on the Planet

While the COVID-19 outbreak is still spreading, it had caused an unprecedented situation in the modern age: hundreds of millions of people have been forced to stay in their homes. The number of flights, train rides, buses and car rides has dramatically plummeted; factories have shut down; and nature sites and tourist destinations around the world, which are typically packed with visitors – have remained empty like never before. It seems that a virus has accomplished what green movements around the world were unable to do.

 

First and foremost: the air has become much cleaner. Data backed by space satellite imagery indicates that the level of air pollution has dropped drastically, especially in countries that have been under lockdown for an extended period, such as China, South Korea and Italy. Environmentalists say that this is “the largest experiment ever” in terms of the reduction of industrial emissions.

 

But it is not only the quality of the air we breathe that has improved; the quality of our water has improved, too. The water in the canals of the typically tourist-packed city of Venice, Italy, which was abruptly abandoned, has become "the cleanest it has ever been in history", according to locals, who can't believe their eyes. The typically murky water has become clear enough that fish can be seen through it.

 

Animals have also enjoyed the new reality, as can be learned from what is happening on the streets of Lopburi, a city north of Bangkok, the capital of Thailand. In recent weeks, the town's residents have been feeding the monkeys that have filled the streets, replacing the tourists who used to feed them in their natural habitat. In Nara, Japan, the streets of the city are now filled with deer from the nearby nature reserve. The planet has undoubtedly celebrated its sudden freedom from mankind that arrived with no prior notice.

***

So, as we each do our part, practicing social distancing and supporting those who are on the frontlines of the battle to contain the pandemic, it is important that we also try and look at the positive side effects brought about during these challenging times. It will be very interesting to see which of these new practices will remain with us after COVID-19 has gone from the world and which lessons, if any, mankind will learn from it.



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