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  • Dr. Kavitha Prakash Palled

Post lockdown mantra: learn to live with the Coronavirus

Updated: Jun 5, 2020


Question on everyone’s mind right now: What will life be like when India and the rest of the world lift the lockdown completely? Will life as we knew it before Covid-19 return? Well answer is Time will heal and time will answer!!!

Coming to history itself, the world has survived all the pandemics of the past. We are alive and more populous than ever is proof to that. Humans have vanquished past pandemics with much lower degree of medical advancements. We have advanced medical facilities now. Optimists hope the disease will peak and fall after June. If it continues as it is, most likely the best policy will be to ease curbs even in red and orange zones, along with precautions and behavioural changes.

Once the storm is over, you will not remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You will not even be sure whether the storm is over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in.

“Virtual partying” is a term that has gained currency over the past two months as a world in quarantine looked around for new ways to socialise, along with other words or phrases that have become commonplace, like “social distancing” and “Zoom bombing.” And, as we take uncertain steps into a not so brave new world after lockdown, another term will perhaps get even more commonplace. The “new normal,” the lockdown may have made us retreat into a bubble, but it is a digitised bubble, from virtual parties to conference calls, webinars to online learning courses.

TOUCH ME NOT

In the post-Covid-19 world, “no contact” might become the standard. The new normal of social distancing, masks, gloves and washing of our hands is here to stay. Even if all restrictions are lifted, until a vaccine is found, we must remember that the virus is still among us. So, unless we continue to follow social distancing norms, we are going to see a spurt in cases in India. Do expect identification of hotspots to continue and cluster shutdowns. There will probably also be temperature sensors at public places and quarantine measures will be put in place if an infection is detected in a workplace. Greetings of the people by shaking hands, consoling the patients by patting the back with warm expressions, all will stop. Examination and diagnosis by tactile sensation will be transformed to the further investigations for the diagnosis. Waiting periods for doctor will increase. Each patient consultation time in between will increase. Opd consultation fees will be hiked, procedure cost will raise. Building relationship between people will take a different mode. Middle seats won’t be sold in flights, every other seat will be empty. Bus or train where new a platform to observe different culture, different people, making friendship will go on silent mode.

HEAL THE WORLD:

The lockdown may have made us insular, but it also brought the world closer. We adapted to our forced new life in lockdown quickly. We went digital and took to technology, reaching out to the community outside our insular lives. And while we stayed locked inside our homes, the birds came back to our gardens, the air became cleaner and the sky clearer. The smog in most of our cities lifted, with no vehicles to spew toxic gases. Young working couples adapted to ‘Work from Home’ (WFH), home-schooled their children, and used video conferencing for work calls and family socials. Covid-19 is reminding us of a simple but vital truth: “we are one species, sharing one planet.”

POST CORONAVIRUS CIVILISATION:

Basic hygiene rules learnt during the times of coronavirus outbreak and lockdown must not be forgotten and thrown out of practice. It would be wise for everybody to carry something like a first-aid box all the time that contains a soap bar, a pair of face masks, a pair of hand gloves, a vile of sanitiser, and a note to remind about social distancing.

It will be curious to see whether the “new normal” is just a bump along the way or a path-changing reality. William Shakespeare’s paraphrased poem best captures the nation’s dilemma. Unlike Prince Hamlet, this is not a question of one’s own life but a billion other lives. It is critical to make decision to live with corona on sound facts and evidence, not fear or hope.

New evidence shows that such fear and panic are unwarranted and a gradual return to a new and safe normal is the best option. It takes tall political leadership to calm nations and lead people out of their deep fears. Just as President Franklin Roosevelt did in 1933 when he exhorted Americans to shed their fear of the great depression, with the words “There is nothing to fear but fear itself.” So, let us learn to live with corona.

LIVE AND FIGHT TOGETHER– BUT REMEMBER DIVIDED WE ARE SAFE AND CROWDED WE ARE DOOMED

It is clear the current strategy of shutting down large parts of society is not sustainable in the long-term. The social and economic damage would be catastrophic. Corona is not going to disappear. Keep washing hands, using tissues while sneezing, avoid touching the face, masks, gloves the habit should continue. People should get exposed to the virus to develop the herd immunity. Cities will lose part of their variety and public social life. There will be less eating out, more home delivery, and lower consumption of luxuries. Public cinemas will turn into home cinemas. Gyms and hair salons will not be in demand for quite some time, unless good practices of social distancing and hygiene are maintained

LET US FOOL OURSELVES NO LONGER:

What his exit strategy was "Long term, clearly a vaccine is one way out of this, and we all hope that will happen as quickly as possible." Vaccine research is taking place at unprecedented speed, but there is no guarantee it will be successful and will require immunisation on a global scale. The best guess is a vaccine could still be 12 to 18-months away if everything goes smoothly. That is a long time to wait when facing unprecedented social restrictions during peacetime. Best vaccine available right now is distancing yourself from virus.

TELEMEDICINE HERE TO STAY IN A POST-COVID-19 WORLD???:

Telemedicine is being used by doctors to connect with patients, and by mid-level provider/health workers to connect patients with doctors without patients having to physically visit a hospital or clinic.

Those fancy Hollywood movies which portrayed the experience of tele-consultation, 3D image transfer will be a virtual reality in post covid world. I won’t call it as teleconsultation we can say it’s a virtual patient doctor interaction platform. Even post lockdown, it will help reduce the burden on the secondary hospitals and improve documentation, data-collection, diagnosis and care without risking the safety of the patients or the health workers.

For a population of 1.36 billion, the doctor-population ratio 1:1,457, which is lower than the WHO recommended norm of 1:1,000. In addition to doctors, India has a little more than two million registered nurses and midwives, many of whom need infection control training to care for patients with communicable diseases, such as Covid-19 and tuberculosis. “Mobile apps, telemedicine, digital health are all great and welcome, but cannot help any country leapfrog fragile and under-resourced health systems,

Telemedicine can increase reach, but it cannot replace a strong primary health system, which is dependent on competent health systems and providers. “I hope the biggest issue with public health delivery post-Covid is the recognition that universal health coverage is critical for any country to face a pandemic. Many countries are learning that you cannot build healthcare capacity during a crisis. It takes time and investment to build a good public health system. The COVID-19 pandemic brought telemedicine into a new light. As medical professionals need to stay healthy and disease-free, the need for remote technologies skyrocketed. Both the CDC and WHO are advocating for telemedicine to monitor patients and reduce risks of them spreading the virus by traveling to hospitals. A recent paper from The American Journal of Managed Care discussed the need for and challenges to incorporating telemedicine amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. It concluded that “although certain legal, regulatory, and reimbursement challenges remain, the COVID-19 outbreak may be the right impetus for lawmakers and regulatory agencies to promulgate further measures that facilitate more widespread adoption of telemedicine.”

ROBOTS TO THE RESCUE:

As it has been determined that the COVID-19 can spread from human to human, medical staff are at high risk of being infected. However, impervious to cross-infections are medical robots. These can be real game changers in cases of viral outbreaks.

We have seen one such case already. where a man, diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, is being treated by a robot. The latter allows physicians to communicate with the patient via a screen and it is also equipped with a stethoscope, helping doctors take the man’s vitals while minimizing exposure to the staff. True, it won’t be possible in a jam-packed hospital in India with hundreds of such patients, but with time, quarantined patients could be better monitored with the help of robots.

we believe that in the future, artificial intelligence could speed up drug creation and the clinical testing procedure through redesigning existing medicines or pairing unique ingredients virtually that were never tested before. For example, many pharmaceutical companies use supercomputers that root out therapies from a database of molecular structures. In 2015, biotechnology companies launched a virtual search for safe, existing medicines that could be redesigned to treat the virus. They found drugs predicted by the company’s artificial intelligence technology which may significantly reduce infectivity. This analysis, which typically would have taken months or years, was completed in less than one day.

The five things we learnt from being isolated over the last two months:

1.Health: The idea that unequivocally matters the most is health. The impairment of health is an equal if not a bigger nightmare emotionally, logistically, and financially for the people around me.

2.Family: The first concentric circle of support at the end of it all is one’s family and young one needs older one’s shoulder and older ones need younger one hands. ‘Cats in the cradle’ typified this. When the child grows up, and the situation changes from a busy father neglecting his son to a busy son neglecting his father and both neglecting health for wealth.

3. Unfettered Social Media and its Evils: It is the reengineering by tech companies of the connected populace through drip dopamine hits with a significant tilt towards a profit motive of the tech companies rather than a social largesse of the populace. Social media thrives on the underlying human addiction- desire to get noticed.

4. Unsung heroes: Who would have imagined that doctors and health care workers will be in a battlefield with invisible enemy, but it’s a reality check to every nation about health infrastructure far more important than you border military service. The trench dwellers are usually the unsung heroes in any battle, be it the infantry in war or healthcare workers in a pandemic outbreak. Mankind has always had a steady state line of hands battling larger problems on the fringes of future-doctors, nurses, policemen, food delivery guys, Scientists, innovators, and researchers. These people have constantly worked towards pushing the boundaries of human capabilities significantly higher than the collective sum of our thinking would otherwise have

5. The world will not end, but the species will: The planet as we know it has been around for 4.5 billion years. We, for all our glorious achievements, have been around for only 300,000 years. The average life expectancy of the mammalian species is a million years. Abound 99 per cent of the species have gone extinct. We certainly have the capability and the mad dash to be a part of that statistic. Hope we wake up now and save ourselves going extinct.

FINAL CONCLUSION: HOPE HUMANS LEARN THEIR HUMANITY AND VASUDHAIVA KUTUMBAKAM (THE WORLD IS ONE FAMILY):

After the pandemic, hopefully, a new norm emerges— one where we share information across countries, collectively coordinate resources and work jointly for the survival of human race. And more importantly, live on a planet where we do not mess with nature. We are no longer a species that hunts to survive. We are one that evolved into one that breeds in captivity to kill and kills in masses to relish life. Hopefully, we find the balance and make sure that we do not over consume and yet at the same time, look to go to Mars and beyond. Hopefully, we spend more time with our families. Hopefully, we take care of our health more. Hopefully, we care less for the glossy social media posts of celebrities, we do not know and care more for the people we know. Hopefully, we wise up and spend more time figuring out why are we here.

It is not about “I” or my family but as they say it’s us and our family as a country and world that matters. This war cannot be won by technology or military might but by people’s resolve and restrain. So, let us stand up and make way for the future generations. We are in war with an invisible virus and war with self to show the commitment and build what could be a “Vasudeva Kutumbakam”. It is not important we do our best. Sometimes we must do what is required.


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