What a start to the year – no, the decade – it has been.
Having endured the bushfires of January and the rains of February here at home in Australia, this month we join the rest of the world as we stare at an unprecedented health emergency COVID-19.
The global pandemic that is the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has all but shut 2020 down.
The severity of the situation has hit home now that the voice of the medical fraternity has finally broken through the rhetoric.
There’s been an overload of information assaulting us from all sides – social media in particular – that we’ve had to sift through to get to the facts.
New words have entered our lexicon: social distancing, self-quarantine, herd immunity; and phrases like ‘flattening the curve’ are used umpteen times as part of our everyday conversation. (The word ‘corona’ itself, we’ve come to learn, means crown; it’s easy to see from the images of the virus how the nomenclature came about)
Grappling to make sense of it all, if we as adults have had to decipher an entirely new reality, wonder how the young ones are taking it.
Give a thought to the youngsters around us, especially those between 10-14, as they react to this information overload.
Going through their own natural developmental crises to whatever level, their world has changed, albeit temporarily, as they look at schools closing down, lessons online, public outings banned, music festivals cancelled, talk shows filmed in empty auditoriums, paranoid parents enforcing hygiene rules with stronger than usual strictness, and shock horror, toilet paper shortage. They read reports about 250,000 potential deaths in the UK and over a million in the US if the pandemic is not managed correctly, and the proposition that the old and frail could go without treatment in favour of younger people.
To top it all, they’re probably met with no magic words as they seek reassurance from significant adults.
You’ve no doubt had these discussions in your own family by now. And science, you might have observed, has probably helped ease the conversation, as you explained what a pandemic is; how its spread takes the shape of a curve; what from experience has helped flatten that curve; what we can do at an individual level to protect ourselves, our family and the wider society; how we await the development of a vaccine; how mankind has always found the answer with other epidemics, and how loo paper hoarding actually does more harm than good. A great opportunity no doubt to inculcate that scientific temperament.
And the lesson to trust and believe that like all waves, this too shall pass.
If you’re working from home, model disciplined work routines and show off those checked to-do lists. And remember to keep in touch with significant others via phone or online.
The penny had dropped with last year’s drought and this year’s calamitous bushfires,that with the environment, we are in dire need of new paradigms of thought and functioning. With COVID-19, perhaps the same is true in terms of public health.
Looks as though 2020 will go down as a reset year in many walks of life.