Impact of Coronavirus on Human Existence in 2020 and 2021

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INTRODUCTION

Less than a century ago, men at the time had just signed the end of a war; the second world war. A war with terrible consequences which affected the whole world directly or indirectly. Today, the world is going through an unprecedented crisis since the end of 2019. The coronavirus disease 2019 crisis. The coronavirus disease which is currently prevailing all over the world is not only a health crisis; it is the “mother of crises”. this crisis is at the origin of many other crisis with much more dire consequences.

From the young to the elderly, from the poor to the rich, everyone has seen themselves susceptible and vulnerable to this pandemic. In recent decades, one of the most shocking events that the world has experienced and could possibly suffer in the years to come is the advent of the coronavirus pandemic. International organizations, States and governments as well as each individual is involved in the fight and prevention against this pandemic which is wreaking havoc every day. It is a very rough fight because the enemy in question is an invisible enemy who nevertheless coexists with us.

In this article, we are going to fundamentally discuss the impact of this coronavirus pandemic on human existence in 2020 and 2021.

DEFINITIONS

  • Coronavirus

A family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases, such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS-CoV). The novel coronavirus recently discovered has been named SARS-CoV-2 and it causes COVID-19.

  • COVID-19

The name of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, and is short for “Coronavirus Disease 2019.”

ORIGIN AND HISTORY OF CORONAVIRUS

In late 2019 a virus apparently closely related to SARS coronavirus emerged in Wuhan, China. The virus, later named severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), caused an illness known as COVID-19, which was similar to SARS and was being characterized primarily by fever and respiratory symptoms. The virus was likewise highly contagious. By early 2020 it had spread throughout regions of China and had reached the United States and Europe, having been carried by travelers from affected regions. In March the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a pandemic, and travel to, from, and within many countries was severely restricted in an effort to control its spread. In many areas, schools and many businesses closed, and stay-at-home guidelines were implemented, which strongly encouraged people not to leave their places of residence.[1]

IMPACTS OF COVID 19 ON HUMAN EXISTENCE IN 2020 AND 2021

The impacts of covid 19 on the human existence in 2020 and 2021 are very large. The covid 19 has affected society in general, the economy, culture, ecology, politics and other areas. The covid 19 pandemic has led to a dramatic loss of human life worldwide in a very short period of time. It presents an unprecedented challenge to public health, foods systems and the world of work. The social and economic disruption caused by the pandemic is very devastating.

We are going to discuss the impact at two levels: in India and at international level.

IMPACTS OF CORONAVIRUS IN INDIA

India is the second country in the world to present more of corona cases after United State of America. On 24 July 2021, there are in India, 408997 corona active cases and 420016 deaths as per the report of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Displacement of migrant workers

The 2020 lockdown left tens of millions of migrant workers unemployed. With factories and workplaces shut down, many migrant workers were left with no livelihood. They thus decided to walk hundreds of kilometers to go back to their native villages, accompanied by their families in many cases. In response, the central and state governments took various measures to help them. The central government then announced that it had asked state governments to set up immediate relief camps for the migrant workers returning to their native states, and later issued orders protecting the rights of the migrants.

In its report to the Supreme Court of India on 30 March 2020, the central government stated that the migrant workers, apprehensive about their survival, moved in the panic created by fake news that the lockdown would last for more than three months. In early May, the central government permitted the Indian Railways to launch “Shramik Special” trains for the migrant workers and others stranded, but this move had its own complications. On 26 May, the Supreme Court admitted that the problems of the migrants had still not been solved and ordered the Centre and States to provide free food, shelter and transport to stranded migrant workers. [2]

Drug shortages

In January 2020, Indian pharma companies raised the issue that drug supplies could be hit if the pandemic situation in China became worse. India sources about 70% of its pharmaceutical ingredients from China. In March 2020, India restricted export of 26 pharmaceutical ingredients; this restriction pointed to impending global shortages. During the second wave of the pandemic in India shortages of certain drugs caused some COVID-19 patients to go to the black market. In April 2021, other important COVID-19 related drugs also faced lowered stocks and sharp rise in cost of raw materials. [3]

Education

On 16 March 2020, the union government ordered the closure of schools and colleges. On 18 March, Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) released revised guidelines for examination centers incorporating social distancing measures. On 19 March, CBSE and JEE examinations for the Indian Institutes of Technology and other engineering college admissions were postponed. States across the country postponed or cancelled school examinations; younger students were either automatically promoted or promoted based on prior performance. The Union Public Service Commission also postponed the interview for the Civil Services Examination. Only a few educational institutions in India have been able to effectively adapt to e-learning and remote learning; the digital divide is further impacted by serious electricity issues and lack of internet connectivity. [4]

Economy

Due to limited social movement restrictions during the second wave relative to lockdown measures during the first wave, the economic impact of the second wave to date is less severe than that of the first wave. Socio-economic indicators such as power demand, labor participation, and railway freight traffic fell less during the second wave as compared to the first wave. The first wave has strengthened domestic economic resilience, visible during the second wave, despite the severity of the second wave. The Indian Finance Ministry, in their Monthly Economic Review for April 2021 released on 7 May 2021, wrote that “economic activity has learnt to operate ‘with Covid’. Since the beginning of the pandemic in India, poverty has increased, and livelihoods have been affected.

Indian stock markets witnessed a flash crash on 2 March 2020 on the back of the Union Health Ministry’s announcement of two new confirmed cases. On 12 March 2020, Indian stock markets suffered their worst crash since June 2017 after WHO’s declaration of the outbreak as a pandemic. On 23 March 2020, stock markets in India posted its worst losses in history. SENSEX fell 4000 points (13.15%) and NSE NIFTY fell 1150 points (12.98%). [5].

Freedom of expression

On 25 April 2021 the government confirmed that it had made an emergency order requiring at least 100 social media posts to be removed by Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, which included posts that it believed were misinformation, inducing panic among the public, or obstructing the response to the pandemic. This included critical tweets by West Bengal Minister of Labour and Law Moloy Ghatak, filmmaker and journalist Vinod Kapri, MP Revanth Reddy, and actor Viineet Kumar.

On 30 April 2021, in a Suo moto case regarding the government’s response to the pandemic, a Supreme Court of India bench headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud commented on “free flow of information” and equated its restriction to contempt of court, “There should be free flow of information; we should hear voices of citizens. This is a national crisis. There should not be any presumption that the grievances raised on the internet are always false. […] there should not be any kind of clampdown.”

On 21 May 2021, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology ordered social media outlets to remove all content that “names, refers to, or implies [an] ‘Indian variant’ of coronavirus”, under the justification that it is misinformation because the World Health Organization does not officially recognize or use the term in relation to Lineage B.1.617 [6]

Health and other diseases

The attention given to fighting COVID-19 caused a reduction in attention given to other diseases such as tuberculosis, resulting in tens of thousands of deaths. This has also caused a set-back to the fight against tuberculosis by over a decade. The fall in tuberculosis registrations in the country fell 24% from 2019 to 2020 due to pandemic related issues. Immunization programs have been impacted, operations postponed and neglected and institutional delivery of babies decreased during the lockdown in 2020.

Healthcare and frontline workers

On 8 August 2020, Indian Medical Association (IMA) announced that 198 doctors had died due to COVID-19. This number was increased to 515 by October 2020, and 734 by 3 February 2021. However, on 2 and 5 February 2021 the health ministry announced in the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha respectively that 162/174 doctors, 107/116 nurses and 44 ASHA workers/199 healthcare workers had died due to COVID-19. The figures were based on the governments “Insurance Scheme for Health Workers fighting COVID-19”. As of 17 April 2021, IMA put the number of deaths of doctors at 747. Ten of thousands of doctors, nurses and health workers have been infected with covid. As per June 2021 figures of IMA, 776 doctors have succumbed to COVID-19[7].

Rural and semi-rural India

Over 70% of India’s population, meaning over 740 million people in India, live in rural areas. The share of COVID cases in rural and semi-rural India increased from 40% in mid-July 2020 to 67% in August 2020. This increase in covid cases was largely attributed to the movement of COVID infected migrant workers from urban areas back to their native villages. Issues aggravating the situation in rural and semi-rural areas include a severe lack of human resources in the health field. The second wave also saw migrants coming back from urbans areas, indicated by the sharp rise in employment generation through the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGS). By May 2021, more than half the cases in Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh were from rural areas. Another indicator of the situation in villages is the rush of villagers to semi-urban and urban areas in search of healthcare, “about 30–35 per cent of the patients in hospitals in Bhopal are from villages and small towns located within a 200 km radius. It’s the same story in Indore.” On 16 May 2021 a UP government official confirmed the report that corpses of people who succumbed to the virus in the rural areas had been dumped in the Ganges River due to lack of funds.[8]

Transport

17 March 2020 onwards, private airlines such as IndiGo and Go First started cancelling flights. On 19 March, the Government of India announced that no international flights will be allowed to land in India from 22 March. On 23 March, the union government announced the suspension of all domestic flights in the country starting 25 March. Vande Bharat Mission, a mass evacuation program, was started by the government of India to repatriate 250,000 stranded Indians around the world. On 7 August, Air India Express Flight 1344, a repatriation flight, crashed at Calicut International Airport, killing 18. Two of the survivors tested positive for COVID-19.

Indian Railways took various initiatives to fight against the pandemic. Metro services across India were not operating. On 22 March, all train services in the country were cancelled baring goods trains, that is around 12,500 trains, and all non-essential passenger transport including interstate transport buses. After Prime Minister Modi extended the nationwide lockdown to 3 May, Indian Railways suspended all services on its passenger trains and all ticket bookings indefinitely. On 8 May, the Aurangabad railway accident occurred due to confusion related to the pandemic. Public transport across the nation was affected. [9]

IMPACTS OF COVID 19 AT INTERNATIONAL LEVEL

No country in the world has escaped the harsh consequences that the covid 19 pandemic has imposed during these last two years. No sector of socio-economic development has been spared either. The situation of many families across the world has deteriorated. Likewise, states’ economic growth and economic activities have been slowed by this pandemic.

  • Socio-economic impacts

Estimates indicated that the virus reduced global economic growth in 2020 to an annualized rate of -3.4% to -7.6%, with a recovery of 4.2% to 5.6% projected for 2021. Global trade is estimated to have fallen by 5.3% in 2020.

The infection has sickened over 184 million people globally with over 4.0 million fatalities. The United States reported that by early July 2021, over 33.6 million Americans had been diagnosed and over 603,000 had died from the virus. At one point, more than 80 countries had closed their borders to arrivals from countries with infections, ordered businesses to close, instructed their populations to self-quarantine, and closed schools to an estimated 1.5 billion children[10]

The WHO indicated in early January 2021, that 230 million Europeans were living under lockdown restrictions at that time and that 26 million Europeans had contracted COVID-19 in 2020. 16 On April 13, 2021, the WHO estimated that 1 million Europeans had died from the disease, nearly twice as many as in the United States. In an attempt to stop the spread of new variant strains of the virus, the UK, Ireland, Germany, Denmark, and some northern Italian regions closed schools in January 2021 for several weeks.[11] On May 6, India reported a single-day total of 412,000 new cases. 23 By July 2, India’s death toll from the pandemic surpassed 400,000.24. [12] Brazil reportedly has had over 350,000 viral related deaths: in some cities in Brazil, COVID-related daily deaths have outnumbered daily.

According to the WHO, 16 African countries were experiencing their worst period during the pandemic in early July 2021, as a result of rising rates of infections and deaths, with even larger numbers expected. 36 Some of the most severely affected countries were Namibia, Uganda, Zambia, and South Africa, The WHO indicated the continent was experiencing a third wave of infections as a result of the rapidly spreading Delta variant. Reportedly, less than one percent of the continent’s population has been vaccinated.

In a report prepared for the January 25-29, 2021, World Economic Forum, the International Labor Organization (ILO) estimated that 93% of the world’s workers at that time were living under some form of workplace restrictions as a result of the global pandemic and that 8.8% of global working hours were lost in 2020 relative to the fourth quarter of 2019, an amount equivalent to 255 million full-time jobs. Total working hours lost in 2020 compared with 2019 were highest in Europe (14.6%) and the Americas (13.7%), where quarantines and lockdowns had been extensive, followed by lowermiddle income economies. The ILO also estimated that global job losses totaled 114 million jobs in 2020 relative to 2019. The share of lost worker hours due to higher rates of unemployment were highest in Europe (6.0%), the Americas (2.7%), including the United States, and Arab States (1.7%).[13]

According to the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) September 2020 forecast, GDP growth for developing Asia was projected to contract by 0.7% in 2020, reportedly the first decline in economic activity in the region in six decades, reflecting the slowdown in global trade and national quarantines. 348 Similar to other groups, the ADB’s forecasts indicate progressively more negative rates of growth over the April through September period, while also forecasting a rebound in growth rates in 2021, including a growth rate of 6.8% in developing Asia. Annual rates of growth in three-fourths of the region’s economies are projected to decline in 2020

The drop in business and tourist travel caused a sharp drop in scheduled airline flights by as much as 10%; airlines estimated they lost $113 billion in 2020 (an estimate that could prove optimistic given the Trump Administration’s announced restrictions on flights from Europe to the United States and the growing list of countries that are similarly restricting flights),374 while airports in Europe estimated they lost $4.3 billion in revenue due to fewer flights[14]

CONCLUSION

The consequences of the coronavirus pandemic have affected human existence as never before. Based on the facts, one can objectively agree that the covid 19 pandemic is a terrible experience. Everyone has suffered the vicissitudes caused by this pandemic.

However, it is quite legitimate to think from an angle opposed to the general understanding of the coronavirus pandemic. In other words, the covid 19 has not only had negative impacts. Above all, it presents some positive outcomes that cannot be completely neglected. The objective is not to weight the benefits and harms or injuries of covid 19, but to keep in mind these two parameters whenever we are thinking of the impacts of coronavirus. Finally, it is important that everyone understands the importance of fighting fiercely against this disease and actively engaging to this end. Even if life is worth nothing, nothing is worth life either! Therefore, fighting this disease by all legitimate means should the major concern of all humans.

This article has been written by Kammate Natigou. He is a 3rd year BALLB student.

REFERENCES

  1. https://www.britannica.com/science/coronavirus-virus-group

  2.  Pandey, Devesh K. (29 March 2020). “Coronavirus | Migrant workers to be stopped, quarantined at borders, says Centre”. The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2 May2020.

  3.  Leo, Leroy (20 April 2021). “Vitamins, antivirals shortage piles woes on covid patients”. mint. Retrieved 11 May 2021.

    ^ Chandna, Himani (3 May 2021). “Pharma industry warns of Covid drug shortages as raw materials prices surge 200%”. ThePrint. Retrieved 11 May 2021.

  4. Modi, Sushma; Postaria, Ronika (6 October 2020). “How COVID-19 deepens the digital education divide in India”. UNICEF Global Development Commons. Retrieved 12 May2021.

    Nanda, Prashant K. (28 October 2020). “Digital divide is stark, online education still far from reality: ASER”. mint. Retrieved 12 May 2021

  5. Stock markets post worst losses in history; Sensex crashes 3,935 points amid coronavirus lockdown”The Indian Express. 23 March 2020. Retrieved 23 March 2020.

  6. “No clampdown on grievances; must avoid political bickering: What SC said on Covid crisis”The Times of India. 30 April 2021. Retrieved 11 May 2021.

  7.  Mascarenhas, Anuradha (19 March 2021). “One year of Covid-19 eliminated 12 years of progress in global fight against tuberculosis”. The Indian Express. Retrieved 21 May2021.

  8.  “776 doctors succumbed to COVID in second wave, highest in Bihar: IMA”Medical Dialogues. 6 July 2021. Retrieved 6 July 2021.

  9.  “More than 4,000 Indians die of COVID for second straight day”. Al Jazeera. 13 May 2021. Retrieved 15 May 2021.

    “Bus services between Indore and Maharashtra to be suspended”. India Today. PTI. 18 March 2020. Retrieved 14 May 2021.

     Vasdev, Kanchan (20 March 2020). “Punjab to ban public transport from March 21”. The Indian Express. Retrieved 19 March 2020.

    Govt bans public transport in Srinagar to prevent spread of Coronavirus”. Greater Kashmir. 19 March 2020. Retrieved 19 March 2021

  10. The Day the World Stopped: How Governments Are Still Struggling to Get Ahead of the COVID-19,” The Economist, March 17, 2020. https://www.economist.com/international/2020/03/17/governments-are-still-struggling-toget-ahead-of-the-COVID-19.

  11. Hall, Ben, Bethan Staton, Joshua Chaffin, Guy Chazan, European Capitals Follow UK with School Closures as Virus Surges, Financial Times, January 7, 2021. https://www.ft.com/content/8121ca0a-4d96-4cf5-b5df-a73adc16a606. 18 Chazan, Guy, We Are a Laughing Stock’: Covid-19 and Germany’s Political Malaise, Financial Times, April 1, 2021. https://www.ft.com/content/bc5a3b02-a90d-4206-a441-1bada29feba2.

  12. Cunningham, Erin, Covid-19 Global Updates: India’s Death Toll Tops 400,000 as Delta Variant Gains Ground Worldwide, The Washington Post, July 2, 2021

  13. ILO Monitor: COVID-19 and the World of Work, Seventh Edition, International Labor Organization, January 15, 2021, p. 2.

  14. Taylor, Adam, “Airlines Could Suffer up to $113 Billion in Lost Revenue Due to Covid-19 Crisis, IATA Says,” Washington Post, March 5, 2020. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2020/03/05/Covid-19-live-updates/

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