Art of surviving COVID-19: Redefining pandemic preparedness in the new normal
BY: Rahul Koul - 20 Nov-2020

 

While the key to defeating pandemic lies in acting as per prescribed norms of social distancing and preventive healthcare, it has also taught us valuable lessons for future


The COVID-19 has shrunk our world and made it revolve around uncertainty, fear, and behavioral changes. During the early phase of pandemic, most of the people were confined to their homes, too much scared to step out due to fear of catching the virus. This triggered many debates around the risk index, leaving people uncertain over outdoor activities. They weren’t sure about what’s more risky: getting a haircut, eating inside a restaurant, traveling by plane or shaking someone’s hand? The ensuing lockdown ensured they didn’t! 

Meanwhile, the absence of any preventive vaccine or quick treatment has prolonged the pandemic and, therefore, made us slowly resume our old lives with baby steps. From visiting nearby shops for daily essentials to resuming regular health check-ups, the world is still struggling to get back to old normal.  

The pandemic has redefined rules for risky behavior. Identifying the high and low risk behaviors in a specific context could help every individual in choosing what to do and what not. For example many people have been practicing social distancing by working from home. While this arrangement can be a great way to reduce one’s exposure to COVID-19, yet it is a luxury that might not be available to all. Many professions demand people out there but can be risky also for the workers and people contacting them. 

As the world deals with all the confusion, it is vital to get going and not let this virus affect your overall health. This might sound boring but all precautionary measures like wearing masks, using sanitizers or soaps to clean hands, and maintaining social distancing must become a part of our daily routine. Eating good food, taking enough sleep, exercising regularly and eliminating negativity from daily life are few basic lessons that we have been forced to learn from the current situation. I have used the word, ‘force’ because most of us are well aware about the benefits of practicing a healthy lifestyle but rarely put any efforts to follow it. Now since the fear of catching corona has made us paranoid about the dangerous consequences, all of a sudden we are ready to do whatever it takes to keep it at bay. 

The latest research suggests that lifestyle choices coupled with emotional stress of social isolation and interpersonal conflicts may increase the risk for contracting COVID-19. A major behavioral change i.e. social distancing, forced almost everyone to stay at home and gradually falling to the risk of catching other ailments. From the recent buzz on social media about the importance of mental health to a report highlighting how women health is being affected during lockdown, there has been constant focus on issues that have been ignored quite often. 


Wiser for the future 

Pandemic has brought a harrowing time for non-covid patients suffering from various ailments and requiring immediate medical attention. According to estimates by the UNICEF, India would have the highest number of forecast births, at 20 million, in the nine months dating from when COVID-19 was first declared a pandemic. With most private clinics closed by doctors on their own citing various reasons ranging from non-availability of staff to fear of catching infection from patients, the entire system has gone for a toss. Clearly the medical fraternity wasn’t prepared to deal with a pandemic of this scale. This highlights the need for extra efforts to strengthen the public health system and increase health budgets to optimize service delivery and health facilities as well as maintain supply chains. 

It has been generations since we have witnessed the unfolding of such a crisis that has impacted us so deeply. When the COVID-19 positive cases were on peak, there were speculative media reports about spread of another virus from pigs within few provinces of China. One could only shudder over the possibility of one more deadly pandemic knocking at our doors. While the world is still grappling with the pandemic, there has been no clear answer on the actual origin of the virus. The ethical dilemma shouldn’t confuse us to the level where it is okay to create dangerous viruses and other micro-organisms just for the sake of it. 

While this pandemic has illuminated weak points and brought new challenges to businesses, it also affords the industries with a unique time to reflect on learning, adapt and grow inwards to be better positioned for the future. Preparedness is the only key that can save us from extinction tomorrow. Successful handling of disinformation on social media is akin to winning half of the war and policymakers have understood the power of digital tools to tackle the spread.

For once, humanity is united against a common foe that has unleashed turmoil across the globe. The key to defeating COVID-19 lies with each one of us and that is to know the high or low risk behaviors and act according to redefined norms. ‘Prevention is better than cure’ remains a valuable advice in the current context and the time has come to live it by heart.


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About Author: Rahul Koul is the Consulting Editor at Voice of Healthcare. He is also the Founder and Chief Editor of BioVoice, a leading digital news platform for Indian bioscience sector. The views expressed by author are his own.
 

* This article is published by VOH Team*

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