The international community was given warnings about an ongoing outbreak in Wuhan, Province of Hubei, China, on December 31, 2019. The first death occurred on January 9, 2020, while on January 13, the first case outside China was recorded – it was in Thailand.
By February 11, the virus was officially called COVID-19 and was formally declared a pandemic on March 11.
Since then, several countries have been limiting land, sea, and air entry to its borders, restricting movement and mass gathering of its current residents through quarantine protocols, and refocusing resources to respond to both suspected and positive cases.
As infection and mortality rates go up, aspects of living as a society and as individuals are being sacrificed to ensure that countries and communities are flattening the curve.
Flattening the curve is the phenomenon in which a particular country or community has been able to slow down infection rates up to a point where its healthcare or hospital capacity can manage all infected and suspected cases.
It can also be said that flattening of the curve is successful if the recovery rate has overtaken the infection rate. Health experts have stated that flattening of the curve is essential to beat this pandemic.
Changes Brought About By The Pandemic
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), one way of avoiding getting infected (or, infecting others) is to practice social distancing by maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet (2 meters) from other people unless necessary. This is to ensure that we do not infect nor get infected during our interactions with others.
Since COVID-19 spreads via coughs, sneezes, or water droplets from conversing during interaction with infected individuals, national and local governments, offices, and communities have closed down or limited headcount in establishments.
Governments started enforcing work from home setup, deferred payment penalties for credits and loans and promoted contactless and online transactions. It has impacted family life, and the economy as more and more citizens are staying home than going out.
Families are now deemed to be closer than ever as parents and children are ‘stuck’ at home and have spent more time together during this crisis. On the positive side of this quarantine, many families have found new hobbies and leisure time to enjoy with each other.
As this is the first time in the modern era that strict public health protocols are implemented for a prolonged period, it led to economic stagnation, which, in turn, resulted to layoffs of companies especially for non-essential personnel, and to some extent, the shutdown of operations or declaration of bankruptcy.
The surge in unemployment caused an escalation in terms of magnitude and the number of individuals suffering from stress, anxiety, and depression.
The New Normal
We, as humans, have been known for our ways of adapting to change. The following are examples of measures implemented to jump-start the economy while preventing further spread of the virus:
- Wearing of PPEs and using protective barriers for personnel that need to face customers.
- Disinfecting of hands and equipment which are continuously used.
- Promoting and installing contactless or online transactions and payment methods.
- Checking of temperatures of customers or personnel entering an establishment.
- For businesses in the food industry, restaurants or fast-food chains are either cutting seating capacity to maintain distancing (one person per table, installment of barriers between guests) within their establishments. Some have gone to the extent of only accepting delivery or food-to-go.
- Avoiding face-to-face meetings and opting for online alternatives (e-learning, webinars, online consultations).
- Appointments are now vital for essential services instead of queueing in line for ease in crowd control and contact tracing.
- Alternating between personnel that will go to their respective offices.
Adapting To The New Normal In Our Households And Various Common Spaces
According to Robert Leahy, Ph.D., of the New York and Clinical Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College, “We are currently facing a pandemic and in various regions across the world, people are following similar lockdowns, shutdowns, or social distancing.”
He adds, “We have to look at this by putting in perspective that to win the battle against COVID-19 we must make sacrifices and develop a coping mindset.” He also listed the following steps that can be taken to ease mental stability:
a. Give Yourself A Break
Since we are all experiencing a change in how we live in the modern era, one must learn to accept that, although the virus and pandemic are temporary, the changes brought about it in terms of our manner of living will be our new reality and will require a different lens or perspective to accept it.
When we encounter hurdles in adjusting and taking, accept them as they are. An example of which is juggling or maintaining a boundary in one’s personal home-working environment and attending to the needs of others living within the same households, especially the elderly and children who are more susceptible to the virus.
b. Be Kind And Practice Acceptance
One must keep in mind that in a household or community, one is not alone. We are all going through the same changes but with different levels of adjustment and coping mechanisms. Hence, approaching or dealing with others must be done with humility and politeness. To achieve this, one may do the following:
c. View Life As A Narrative
Looking at life as if it were a book with chapters and plots will give one a sense of control in a seemingly helpless situation. This will help with the adjustment of coping mechanisms and change in perspective for this chapter.
While we move forward and transition to either the ‘new normal’ or ‘original normal’ way of living, COVID-19 is seen as a disease that will most likely stay—coping with it, both physically and mentally, is a way to survive this pandemic.