It will be a changed world now

Dr Gautam Sharma
The spread of coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) or covid-19 and has gripped the entire world and has been declared as a public health emergency. It is a zoonotic infection (disease that spread between animals and people) and which has originated in Wuhan, which is the capital city of Hubei province in the People’s Republic of China, from a wholesale wet market and is believed to have transmitted to humans from bats and pangolins. Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) is abundantly present in nasopharyngeal and salivary secretions of affected patients. Report of the WHO-China Joint Mission on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) reveals that it is transmitted via droplets and fomites during close unprotected contact between an infector and infectee. Despite efforts by the Governments of different countries to contain the disease spread, its outbreak is still continuing with huge loss of human lives throughout the globe. Many countries of the world are under lockdown. Lockdown in India has been extended till 3rd of May. The lockdown has impacted almost every aspect of human life some of which are:
It can be clearly observed that Covid-19 has changed the basic habits and thinking of the general public. Frequent hand washing was once considered as an obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), but now the international health agencies as well as local government authorities are regularly publishing and appealing people to wash their hands frequently. We might have never cleaned the door handles and latches with a disinfectant solution but it’s a regular practice now in every home to prevent the spread of corona virus.
People throughout the world who use to shake hand and hug each other have started greeting with ‘Namaste’ which was a norm in India but we have copied the western culture and shed the best practices of our culture.
Corona virus has also changed the travelling habits in our country. People used to travel to hill stations, plan outings and visit religious places during weekends and holidays. This travel was mainly by airplanes, trains and busses. Days before the lockdown was announced, Indian Railways had to cancel many trains due to low occupancy. It was reported that 63% tickets in Indian Railways were cancelled in March due to corona virus infection fear among the public. The railways and aviation sectors were deeply impacted and it seems that public will hesitate to use trains and airplanes for sometime even after the elimination of this deadly virus.
Along with the travelling, a clear change can be noticed in the food habits. People have stopped ordering the junk food like pizza, burgers, French fries etc from online food delivery apps in the month of February fearing corona virus infection from the outside food. People have started cooking fresh and healthy food at home as the movement of food delivery boys completely stopped after the lockdown and curfew. Food prepared at home is always healthy and hygienic as compared to food and sweets procured from the market as raids on the famous restaurants and sweet shops by government authorities describe the food there as unhygienic and unfit for human consumption. The Research Councils under the Ministry of AYUSH, Government of India have issued advisory based on the Indian traditional medicine practices in Ayurveda, Homeopathy and Unani to tackle the corona virus. Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently tweeted about Ayurveda’s immunity-boosting measures. AYUSH ministry had advised practicing yogasana, pranayama and meditation for at least 30 minutes every day, use turmeric, cumin, coriander and garlic in cooking, drinking herbal tea/decoction (kadha) made from tulsi, cinnamon, black pepper, shunthi (dry ginger) and raisins once or twice a day, hot milk with Haldi powder once or twice a day etc.
Many Non-vegetarians have stopped consuming poultry products fearing spread of corona virus and outbreak of avian flu. The price of eggs and chicken has nosedived throughout the country. People are pledging on the social media to become pure vegetarian. Multi-crore poultry business has been shattered due to drastic fall in the consumption.
People have observed major festivals like Navratras, Ram Navmi, Mahavir Jayanti, Easter, Baisakhi in their homes and not in the congregation. This has helped to a great extent the arrest of exponential growth of the deadly corona virus. While some people gathered to offer prayers has dented the process of containment of the spread of the disease.
The death of health professionals worldwide due to COVID-19 is shocking and some doctors in the Government set-up are resigning from their jobs fearing infection from this deadly virus.
Newspaper reports of non-availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) to the healthcare professional who are attending the patients suffering from corona virus from various parts of the globe is worrisome. Healthcare professionals like dental surgeons, ENT surgeons, ophthalmologists shall have to be careful even after the ongoing corona virus subsides as they will continue to face the threat of contracting infection. While working in the oral cavity, the dentists are always in contact with the saliva and blood of the patients and corona virus is abundant in saliva of an infected patient. Scaling of teeth, use of air-rotor to prepare cavities and reduction hand-pieces are aerosol generating procedures, commonly undertaken by a dentist. Aerosols may contain virus if patient is a carrier or infected with corona virus.
Corona virus lockdown has a dramatic effect on the environment of our country. The pollution is minimum as very few vehicles are plying on the roads, factories, malls, construction activities are closed. Air quality index has improved. Reports reveal clear and clean water in the major rivers like Ganga and Yamuna. Clear blue sky is visible. A photo clicked from Jallandhar city of the Dhauladhar range covered with snow was viral on the social media depicting fall in the level of pollution. The weather is pleasant throughout the country and by the mid-April the need of Air-conditioner is not felt this year after the lockdown, this was not the case last year.
The concept of work from home which was earlier a less known practice has cropped up in our country. People have started spending most of the time with their children and family. Busy executives of companies are finding this home quarantine period as a privilege to connect with their families. To cope up with covid-19 quarantines, people throughout the globe are singing from their balconies, playing instruments and developing creative ways of connecting with others. But some unfortunate reports revealed that there was a surge in the cases of domestic violence and depression during this lockdown period. Phone helplines have been started by the Government to counsel the people to cope with lockdown.
After the lockdown period is over it will be a changed world hopefully with positive habits.
(The writer is Ex-President of Indian Dental Association, Jammu)


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