The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a dramatic loss of human life worldwide. And presents an unprecedented challenge to public health, food systems, and the world of work. The economic and social disruption caused by the pandemic is devastating. Tens of millions of people are at risk of falling into extreme poverty. While the number of undernourished people, currently estimated at nearly 690 million, could increase by up to 132 million by the end of the year.
Millions of enterprises face an existential threat. Nearly half of the world’s 3.3 billion global workforces are at risk of losing their livelihoods. Informal economy workers are particularly vulnerable because the majority lack social protection and access to quality health care and have lost access to productive assets. Without the means to earn an income during lockdowns, many are unable to feed themselves and their families. For most, no income means no food, or, at best, less food and less nutritious food.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives in ways that we could not have imagined. Once busy streets are emptied, bars and restaurants are closed, many children are still unable to go to school.
But what might our future society look like as a consequence of the response to COVID-19? And what might we be able to learn from this experience to make the world a better place?
Covid-19 effect on Agriculture
Millions of agricultural workers – waged and self-employed – while feeding the world, regularly face high levels of working poverty, malnutrition, and poor health, and suffer from a lack of safety and labor protection as well as other types of abuse.
With low and irregular incomes and a lack of social support, many of them are spurred to continue working, often in unsafe conditions, thus exposing themselves and their families to additional risks. Further, when experiencing income losses, they may resort to negative coping strategies, such as distress sale of assets, predatory loans, or child labor.
Covid-19 impact on Workplaces
In the COVID-19 crisis food security, public health, and employment and labor issues, in particular workers’ health and safety, converge. Adhering to workplace safety and health practices and ensuring access to decent work and the protection of labor rights in all industries will be crucial in addressing the human dimension of the crisis. Immediate and purposeful action to save lives and livelihoods should include extending social protection towards universal health coverage and income support for those most affected.
These include workers in the informal economy and in poorly protected and low-paid jobs, including youth, older workers, and migrants. Particular attention must be paid to the situation of women, who are over-represented in low-paid jobs and care roles.
The economic impact of COVID-19 restrictions
People who are unable to work during the pandemic risk losing their income and face possible unemployment if businesses fail.
We know from previous experience, like in the global financial crisis of 2008, that loss of income or employment has profound consequences for health, and in particular, for mental health.
It’s a source of great anxiety for those affected. There are things that governments can do to reduce these risks, but only if they already have the resources and systems in place that are necessary to respond.
Many rich countries have introduced schemes that provide a basic income for those unable to work. This provides some immediate security, but, as importantly, it provides relief for the businesses in which they work, keeping these jobs open so that they can recover quickly while its restrictions are lifted. Of course, unfortunately, there are many countries where this is not going to be possible. However, we can fight off covid-19 with the best hepa air purifier for covid-19 Australia.
Social isolation measures have severe consequences for mental health, particularly for those who live alone, and even more so if they have pre-existing health problems. We now know much more about the health-damaging consequences of loneliness, but we must also think about the practical difficulties that people face, like buying food or getting medicines.
Again, there are enormous differences between rich and poor countries. There has been a digital revolution enabling many people who are physically isolated to maintain virtual contact with their friends and families, but sadly, once again, this is not the case in many of the world’s poor countries.
Additionally, we’re not all experiencing social isolation in the same way. Not everyone lives in a happy family home. We need to think about how we can support victims of domestic abuse who are confined to their homes, unable to escape their abuser. We also need to think about the risks of exploitation of young people who are not in school.
The disruption of essential services and education
We’ve already seen how some national health services have stopped many of their routine activities to concentrate on COVID-19. At the same time, people with other conditions are reluctant to go to the hospital for fear of becoming infected.
In some countries, the number of people attending hospitals with heart attacks has fallen by about half. At least some of the excess deaths being recorded are due to people not seeking care when they need it.
Similarly, the majority of the burden of education disruption falls unequally on different socio-economic groups and on people living in countries with weaker education systems.
Some children will be able to connect with their teachers virtually on the internet, but many will not. Looking ahead, there is a real danger of a lost generation. With the help of a Co2 monitor, you can monitor your indoor air quality and fight off the bad air with a commercial-grade air purifier.
Social disorder and fear
Throughout history, pandemics have caused people to look for someone to blame. Sadly, there have been a number of accounts of racist attacks, sometimes encouraged by comments from politicians. It’s important to guard against stigmatizing groups within society.
The psychosocial impact of COVID-19 cannot be overlooked or understated. In some ways, less reliance on public transport is an area where there may be some good news. The reduction in vehicle traffic means that it may be possible to see blue skies.
However, there is a risk that if people are fearful of using public transport. They’ll turn to cars which may create more severe consequences for our health and the environment.
Looking ahead, the one thing that we can say with certainty is that societies will change. They always have after major disease outbreaks.
We must rethink the future of our environment and tackle climate change and environmental degradation with ambition and urgency. Only then can we protect the health, livelihoods, food security, and nutrition of all people. The use of commercial air purifiers can help fight Covid. Only then can we ensure that our ‘new normal’ is a better one.