will normal life and Canadian economy be impacted due to COVID and the long lasting damage to our lives”
In late December of 2019, we started to hear the ripples about a new “Sars like” virus that was infecting and killing people in China. It seemed very far away and somewhat unimportant. However by the end of January the news from China was telling us that there were 10,000 confirmed cases of which 213 of had died. In urgent response to this exploding crisis China built two 1,000 bed hospitals in just over 10 days. By now world health authorities were taking notice of what was happening in China. The majority of us had no clue what was about to happen globally. Today almost 2 million and infected and over 115,000 ave died. These numbers have been doubling every week. Equally important, the world as we had known it had changed in the blink of an eye and may never be the same again.
As coronavirus, Covid-19 continues to spread, there are no answers as to just how to stop it. It is almost as if the world had been attacked by aliens from outer space. Our health authorities can only tell us how we can protect ourselves from the chance of infection. Even these recommendations may be faulty. Everyone should isolate to their homes and wash our hands often. Originally it was suggested face masks were not important, but apparently now they are. We are being reassured these measures will work, but it doesn’t sound terribly scientific for the 21st century. Perhaps this is part of what Covid-19 is telling us, for all of our amazing scientific and technological advances, we are now reduced to living in a world that in seems in some ways is over a hundred years old. No airplanes, no movie houses, or rock shows and sports events. The few stores that are open allow us only to trickle in. Once we get in, many products are not available. Our freedoms are limited and many things have disappeared since the onslaught of the coronavirus. And we, in Canada have really not even tasted what it has in store for us over the next few months from Covid-19.
Coronavirus is teaching us some very important lessons about life and society. Most importantly it is teaching us that life is indeed very very fragile. A gift to be held preciously and respected deeply, it is not something we can take for granted. As thousands of businesses close their doors and millions around the world are effectively unemployed within a matter of days, Covid-19 makes us realize that our economy and the global economy is built on trade, communication, transport and thriving national marketplaces, yet it too is more fragile than we could have imagined. Take away one’s ability to earn a living and suddenly the world economic situation, as displayed by the stock market, crumbles in days. We are all vulnerable and we are all praying that our governments and our health care systems can make the right choices and guide us through to the “other side”. But chances are the “other side” will not be what we knew “before”.
No-one knows when or even if this virus will stop infecting and killing people. Medical experts, governmental and financial give us no clear answers and only vague predictions. Rich or poor, we all face an uncertain future, hoping, praying that an end to this pandemic is soon at hand. Ironically this disease does not choose who it will infect or threaten. We are all inside a “petri dish” of survival. All of sudden we are globally allied together against a common foe. No matter our financial status, or nationality, race or religion. We have become sisters and brethren against an unknown and cruel enemy. We cannot see it, feel it or smell it. It is everywhere, at least that is what we must assume. Now we must count on each other to keep us safe and free from harm. We have become soldiers in an army fighting for survival, each dependent on each other. Perhaps this is what was envision for mankind in the minds of philosophers and sociologists. A global village where all are equal.
Capitalism stands little chance when we can not pursue business and capitalize on ingenuity, hard work and creativity. Where do the arts and sports stand a chance in a world fixed more on survival than on the pursuit of simple pleasures and happiness? How can comedians make us laugh over the dire circumstances we are faced with?
What will happen after the coronavirus? Estimates say that 1/3 of all our businesses will fail. This will mean tens of thousands of individuals will be unemployed. Yes, there will be many new opportunities to fill voids and vacancies left by the demise of so many. But financially we will all be scarred. Global commerce will have been decimated, national economies in debt and struggling to erase the burdens placed on tax payers. Airlines and businesses of tourism will have to scrape from the ashes a new beginning, as consumers may well be slow to use travel and explore exotic worlds. The world as we knew it just a few weeks ago will most likely be changed forever. How we react individually or as a nation and in fact as a global society cannot easily be imagined.
There is no doubt that the Coronavirus has changed our lives, most likely forever. Over the centuries there have been earth other major pandemics. The most recent HIV/AIDS from 2005 to 2012 killed an estimated 36 million worldwide, it has not gone away, only subsided. The Spanish Flu of 1918 was an influenza that reportedly killed between 20-50 million. Perhaps the most famous in human history was “The Black Death” or Bubonic Plague of 1346-1353, which killed an estimated 75-200 million. The final outcome of Covid-19 is only a guess at this time in terms of lives lost and the overall devastation to those that survive and to economic structures. As each day’s death toll rises, we can only hope to see an end to the carnage as quickly as possible.
Critical elements of business and society have been exposed during the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. The emphasis has been on “flattening the curve”, a term to lower the number of infected individuals. This is achieved by government action to enforce restrictions on travel, work, and day to day activities of individuals. In Canada, strong leadership at all three levels of government, federal, provincial and local are required to enact and enforce stringent policies to help “flatten the curve”. Countries where governments have not acted quickly to enforce restrictions, such as the United States, Italy and Spain have shown serious infection rates and loss of life. Effectively strong government actions can lessen the overall repercussions of the virus. It appears we in Canada may well be lucky that our various levels of government acted in unison, if not scrambling to stay ahead of a racing freight train of death to lessen the final outcome. Let it be said plainly and distinctly that no business or government, country or the globe for that matter was ready for Covid-19 or had a plan in place to defend against it. There is no template on how to deal with this.
Coming to forefront as our frontline troops risking their health and life are a number of real heroes that are our frontline saviours in this struggle against a ruthless villain. Without them we would be lost. I am talking about everyone involved in the health care system from doctors all the way down to janitorial staff. Each is equally important and a true hero. Supply chain workers are keeping us alive, delivering essential goods such as food, fuel, medical goods. Stocking store shelves or working as tellers. Farmers, all those in the communication industry as well as truck drivers and everyone in the transportation industry. These are our troops. Their weapons are varied. None of the signed up for this task. But they all have stepped forward to keep the threads and necessities of life available for us. For all of them we should remain eternally grateful, for they have risked their lives and those of their friends and families for us.
What is our future post Covid-19? This is unknown almost as much as to when will this scourge be over. Governments will be held accountable by voters for how well they handled the pandemic. Many businesses and jobs will be lost forever. New ones will appear though, perhaps more appropriate for our needs after the coronavirus. Our medical and supply chain industries will become more efficient and greater attention will be paid to their needs in the future. Indeed these industries will have new respect from all, at least in the short term. There will be an economic boom of sorts, as we jump to accomplish things that were put on hold for maybe 6 months or more. However, barring economic stimulus from government we may see a global economy that is set back 2 to 5 years.
Covid-19 has brought the world closer as we fight against a common foe. As the whole world quickly became infected we realized the globe is much smaller than we ever imagined. Will humanity become more humane? We can only hope. Governments such as Canada’s have realized that their health care systems is vulnerable. Homes for the aged were poorly prepared as infection spread quickly through many, killing seniors. As a nation we lacked essential medical equipment, breathing and respiratory apparatus and personal protective equipment, items we were importing from offshore. Lack of availability of these items became dangerous, as there was a global need. From now on Canada will manufacture these and most likely we will become exporters. There has been a significant reduction in global air pollution as air and road travel plummeted. How long this lasts has yet to be determined. After the pandemic many businesses will boom and many new opportunities will be created. Lessons learned will help make our supply chain system stronger and more efficient.
It is believed that Covid-19 may be a constant threat until such time as a vaccine is made, which may be 2 years away. The lingering economic effect of a global shutdown is yet to be truly discovered. Governments, business and individuals have all gone deeply into debt. These are the economic effects. In human terms coronavirus has taught us that humankind is very vulnerable and that we need to appreciate life and each other, friends, family and even strangers more. Hopefully we will become kinder to others and be more gentle, for we all survived this war together. For those that are close to us let’s hope we have all learned that they are what makes life enjoyable and important for us and that we should acknowledge this and give them as much love as we can, because Covid-19 has taught us that life can change in the blink of an eye.