• Edward Mponda

Covid-19 Pandemic: A health crisis that is changing the world order.

Our world has never been short of major global occurrences bordering around natural phenomenons and human activities. Plagues, pandemics, and epidemics continue to influence the way human beings live - drastically impacting the course of history and humanity in the process.

Health phenomenons such as the Black Death, the H1N1 Swine Flu pandemic, and the Ebola epidemic are some of the examples to have ravaged mankind before. However, the degree, timing, and impact that the corona virus and COVID-19 pandemic has had on the history of humanity is unprecedented. As early as January 2020, the corona virus was not believed to be transmissible between humans as it was deemed to be communicable from wild animal to human only. Initially, the World Health Organisation (WHO) was optimistic that, with only 40 cases identified, the outbreak would be contained within the city of Wuhan, China. However, the figures started growing to 400 cases a day, sending alarms for a possible wider outbreak within the Hubei province and across the borders.

Crises are inevitable in the modern world order, perhaps what we should be preoccupied with is to quickly determine what type of crisis is unfolding before us – whether it is a natural phenomenon, human perpetuated, or resulting from technological glitches, so that effective interventions are design to curb it before it gets out of hand.. The Covid-19 pandemic came about at a time when it is very easy for people to globally access information as it breaks out. The corona virus became a global phenomenon as early as January 2020 - so the world literally started locking-down at the same time people and organisation's new years resolutions and plans were just locking-in and looking up.

So, how did we get it wrong to allow the virus cross boarders so quickly and put the world to a stand-still?. Within the period of the infections breaking out, it is estimated that about 5 million people left Wuhan city without being screened - following the winding down of the lunar holiday or escaping the outbreak itself. Whilst authorities delayed in making-sense of the on-going health concerns, and before determining what restrictive measures were to be put in place, the world was already exposed to a potential global crisis. Further, lack of adequate information about the virus, its source, and its genetic make-up, not only delayed a wider world response and support, but also tanked any interventions which could have been considered had information been made available to various health experts and governments around the world. Information sharing is paramount in moments of crisis. China only broke its silence, on the existence of a strange virus, on 31st December 2019. In addition, whilst the world was looking up to the east for information on the corona virus, the US President, Donald Trump, took a mere swipe at the problem, pejoratively calling it the 'China virus' and out of political correctness, assuring the world that the virus was “....very much under control”. Considering that the world knew little about the virus, President Trump and other world leaders should have done better, perhaps taking a swift move to press for more information sharing so that the world could quickly make sense of the unfolding situation and design interventions appropriate for the pandemic flash-point.

In addition, crises drastically affect financial resources, at times, draining budgets and making businesses, governments, and organisations hit rock bottom. Not only did Covid-19 pandemic turn out to be a health crisis - it also spiraled over, creating crises in the global economy and social-lifestyle. As Covid-19 spread and recommended restrictive measures were put in place, worlds stock markets hit global lows, unemployment surged as businesses slowed down or closed shop all together. Apart from the human tragedy, the Covid-19 crisis is anticipated to cost at least $1 trillion, due to a slowed down global economy. Further, the pandemic has exposed deficiencies in world governance system. It has also uncovered inefficiencies and collapsing healthcare systems in most parts across the globe, as well as governance inadequacies in handling of health crises. Healthcare centers became inundated in most parts of the world and the healthcare staff remain greatly pressured in so many ways,. In essence, having such unprecedented health and socioeconomic effect on governments across the world, the pandemic will surely contribute in winning as well as losing political elections in many countries.

Crises psychologically affect victims and at times their entire societies – putting pressure on peoples financial stability, mental health, and affecting their everyday emotions. The Covid-19 crisis has facilitated and created a considerable distortion to social lifestyles as we know it. It has also tested the human social endurance levels and offered a taste of possible alternatives for lifestyles in the wake of uncertainties. Further, the pandemic has drawn individuals, families and communities to appreciate things and issues that matter - from essentials to social issues. For example, people rushed to stock essentials that will assure their survival than going for luxurious items. Equally, the world has movingly paid attention to issues that are essential to humanity, including a global focus on social injustices in the USA and other parts of the world, following the death of Mr George Floyd (46) at the hands of the Minneapolis police.

However, crises presents an opportunity for growth. On the business front, as soon as lock-down measures were considered, there was a surge in the use and reliance on technology for business operations. With the economy in lock-down, employees working from home, and businesses turning online more than ever, 2020 is well considered as the year technology and artificial intelligence has had far much greater impact in driving global business. Going forward, businesses will have to get more crafty with their business strategic planning, and technology, to remain relevant in this crisis infested operating environment. What with warnings of possible new wave of Covid-19 infections expected following lock-down restrictions easing up or lifting in most economies?

Surely, the world will never be the same again - all thanks to the revolutionising power of crises. Regardless, the world can pick up positives and exponentially learn from the Covid-19 crisis, as well as from crises that curled the world up before.

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