The life as we know it has forever been changed by something that’s not even visible to a naked eye. It is day 19 of lockdown in India, and it’s day 22 since the stay-at-home or ‘The New York State on PAUSE’ order was issued in the city that I consider as my second home. It breaks my heart to see New York, which is the epicenter of the pandemic in USA, struggling everyday with all it’s might to stand tall even when the SARS-CoV-2 is doing its best to bring the city to its knees. But, as sure as I am of the planets revolving around the sun, I am sure of the fact that New York will get through this. It will be tough and it will take time, but New Yorkers will get through this.
The days are rolling by with us not knowing as to when would this pandemic end and where would it leave us when it would finally be over. As the ominous clouds of the pandemic are showing no signs of clearing, I thought that we could all do with some news of cheering. So, listed below are some good news that I have compiled for you guys to help you cope in these tense times.
At the time of writing this article, over 1.7 million people have been infected by SARS-CoV-2 worldwide with the number of deaths crossing over 108,000. US stands first in terms of the total number of infected cases and the total number of deaths, but Italy and Spain are two of the worst affected countries in the world in terms of their death rate.
- Day after day we saw or read news about Italy, the place of origin of ‘Pizza’, and whose healthcare system ranks second in the world, brought to its knees by COVID-19. The country has been under lockdown since March 9th and after days of catching no glimpse of the pandemic slowing down, we finally have some good news. Latest tallies of the number of infected cases and deaths confirm what experts describe as plateau/flattening of new cases and deaths, which are no longer accelerating but also not falling steeply.
- Similarly, in Spain, which has been under lockdown since March 14th and which holds second place after Italy in terms of the death rate of COVID-19, the death toll curve is flattening at last.
- While some countries were dilly-dallying about imposing stay-at-home orders, 2 countries set examples by showing the rest as to how to effectively tackle this pandemic – South Korea and Singapore. South Korea in particular, stands out starkly amongst its peers in the battle against SARS-CoV-2. The pandemic there broke out during the same week as Italy, yet today, the total number of cases in South Korea is approximately 10,500, with deaths over 200 and the daily increase in the number of infected cases is in double digit. Primary reasons behind such an effective response are aggressive testing (20,000/day at the height of the crisis), multiple test stations with drive-through options minimizing the physical contact between testers and the people getting tested, aggressive contact tracing through GPS tracking, credit card transactions and CCTV footage and of course, through measures like social distancing, self-quarantine and taking care of personal hygiene. It’s important to note that they have achieved this without nationwide, provincewide or even citywide lockdowns. As we stare grimly at the pandemic unravelling in the world showing no signs as to when and how it would slow down, South Korea serves as a beacon of hope that we can win against this pandemic. Other than these two, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan have also earned praise for how they tackled this pandemic.
- Many pharmaceutical companies are competing with each other to ramp up the production of the testing kits and are coming up with their own rapid test kits. ICMR (Indian council of medical research) has issued guidelines stating that rapid antibody tests approved by US FDA/ CE-IVD or non-CE-IVD validated by ICMR-NIV with marketing control by drug controller general can be used. Plans are in place to deploy these test kits to the growing coronavirus hotspots in the country. The more people we test and the more rapid those tests are, the better will be our chances in limiting the spread of the infection. But this good news is to be taken cautiously, because experts have expressed doubts that the rapid test kits (which deliver results in 10-15 minutes) may not be as accurate as the conventional test kits, where it can take 1-2 days from the time of collecting the sample to get the results.
- Now, all of the above news is with respect to humans. Man has a tendency to make everything about himself and believes that he alone makes up the ecosystem. With the pandemic keeping humans home, voluntarily or mandatorily by the governments, if there’s anyone who’s truly thriving, it’s the rest of the ecosystem.
- One of the most polluted cities in the world, New Delhi, is now blessing its residents with pristine blue sky instead of the usual smog. The pictures of the India Gate circulating online with a clear blue sky behind it, reminds me of the movie 2012, where post apocalypse, the residents of the Arks walk outside to clear skies heralding a new beginning.
- Residents of Punjab are taking to social media to share images of the Himalayas, which are being visible from parts of India — that are about a hundred miles away — for the first time in 30 years due to reduction in air pollution.
- And regions in Europe are looking like they are auditioning for Disney movies. Canals of Venice are sporting clear water for the first time in 60 years. And Dolphins were spotted swimming right up to the port in Cagliari, Italy.
While air is undoubtedly less polluted because of the drop in greenhouse gases’ emissions, experts say that nature has been healing long before COVID-19 lockdowns were imposed — benefits of better wildlife protection, less poaching, habitat improvements — and they also reason that if the species were declining, they wouldn’t show up even when the lockdowns were imposed. Still, as the human life is on pause, the nature is on full gear mode to reclaim its glory. But, once the pandemic ends and the humans are back to being their usual nuisance selves, the pollution might also return in its full glory unless good policies are formulated to tackle climate change.
- And, some more positive news that we are coming across these days is how people are really stepping-up their efforts at being a part of the community. Stories of people checking in on their elderly neighbors and getting them groceries/other essential stuff or New Yorkers expressing their gratitude to the healthcare workers by clapping each night at 7pm as the hospitals change shifts or Doctors and nurses from different parts of America volunteering to help out with New York’s Health system which is facing one of its toughest battles till date or people, while maintaining proper social distancing, coming out and making merry from the safety of their front porch trying to lift up each other’s spirits or playing violin/other musical instruments for their elderly neighbors are as comforting as drinking hot chocolate on a cold, wintry night.
Yes, what we are experiencing now, most of us have not experienced before and we may not experience in the future. But, in this period of darkness, are emerging stories of humanity that makes us believe that in a world getting increasingly divided day by day, even as the technology is bringing us closer, there still exists good people who are capable of looking beyond the ‘religion/nationality/race/class‘ constraints, and help those in distress. These are testing times and it’s not a question of ‘IF’ but ‘WHEN’ we would come out of this pandemic. Let us hope that when we come out the other end, it’s gratification and not shame at how we behaved during this pandemic that greets us. Stay positive, stay home and be kind.