The pandemic will change the world forever. Like the fall of the Berlin Wall or the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the coronavirus pandemic is a world-shattering event whose far-ranging consequences we can only begin to imagine today. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a global pandemic which is known as COVID-19 that has spread to at least 170 countries and territories, killing more than 34,000 people and infecting more than 700,000.
It was first started in China. Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems are more likely to develop serious illness.
The coronavirus crisis and the restrictive measures that many countries are taking to control the outbreak can have a negative impact on people's mental health and well-being. "Isolation, physical distancing, the closure of schools and workplaces are challenges that affect us, and it is natural to feel stress, anxiety, fear and loneliness at this time," the director of the European branch of the WHO said on 26 March. According to behavioral psychologist Virgine De Vos, this crisis could generate symptoms of depression or lack of participation over the next weeks. The children are "terrified" and "afraid to play outdoors". It also makes people health conscious.
The pandemic has affected educational systems worldwide, leading to the widespread closures of schools and universities and also impacted religion, including the cancellation of the worship services of various faiths.
The virus outbreak has become one of the biggest threats to the global economy and financial markets. There are big shifts in stock markets. Chinese industrial production fell by 13.5% in the first two months of the year.
Governments around the world have introduced travel restrictions to try to contain the virus which has damaged travel industry. Fear of the virus and government advice to stay at home is also having a devastating impact on hotels and restaurants.Figure: Global economic growth slowdown. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) downgraded its 2020 real GDP growth projections for almost all economies.
Countries that have been under stringent lockdowns to stop the spread of the coronavirus have experienced an unintended benefit. The outbreak has, at least in part, contributed to a noticeable drop in pollution and greenhouse gas emissions in some countries. According to the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air in Finland, the restrictions contributed to a 25 percent drop in China's carbon dioxide emissions over four weeks beginning in late January, compared to the same time last year. NASA and the European Space Agency observed drastic decreases in air pollution over China over two weeks in February when the quarantine was in effect.Figure: NASA data shows a dramatic fall in nitrous oxide, a pollutant emitted from fossil fuels, after China put the breaks on its economy to contain coronavirus.
Clearer waters in Venice in early March were an unintended climate benefit of the coronavirus lockdowns in Italy.
But experts warned that observed reductions are temporary and that as cities, countries and economies bounce back, so, too, will emissions unless major infrastructure or societal changes are adopted.
Data source: BBC news, NASA, WHO, Online.
Writer: Jannatul Mowa, student of Environmental Science and Disaster Management, Noakhali Science and Technology University.
BDST: 1414 HRS, MAR 31, 2020