The recent outbreak of COVID or coronavirus disease has brought a worldwide health crisis that has had a deep influence on the manner in which humans perceive the world in everyday lives. The rate at which this contagion and transmission occur is now a threat to the human agency. The safety measures that are put in place contain the spread of this virus. It also requires people to remain at a distance from one another by being isolated from one another. In the context of such a magnitude of physical threat, the physical and social distancing is needed, which brings a cause for alarm. Every nation, affected by the coronavirus, is handling it according to its internal state. Mass media is also recognizing the powerful forces about how people are experiencing the world with coronavirus. Extensive research on coronavirus accompanies the recognition and knowledge about this disease.
Reason for Special interest in this topic
I have chosen this topic as a research topic for my paper as this issue is relevant and affects the human race like no other disease has ever in the past. The COVID-19 in 2020 has emerged to slowly become close to an apocalyptic event, which will wipe out major populations of the human race if not attended to or handled properly. What is more terrifying is that this disease has no cure yet. It may take several thousand lives before any cure is found, or it may just be too late. I feel that there is an urgent need to address this issue, and that is why this subject is of significance to me in this discussion.
In his article, James (2020) defines coronavirus or COVID-19 is an infectious disease by the newly discovered virus. People who are infected by the COVID-19 experience a mild to average amount of respiratory illness, and they recover without needing any special treatment. People who are elderly or with underlying medical problems like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases, or cancer are more likely to develop serious problems. At this point, there are no particular vaccines or treatments for COVID-19. There are multiple clinical trials that are evaluating treatments, and WHO is continuously providing updates. However, the only way currently to fight this virus is to maintain precaution and distance.
Farnoosh et al. (2020) in Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness, speaks that the Coronavirus disease is the third recognized zootonic beta virus after the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and the MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) that have appeared in recent years. The SARS-COV and the MERS-COV are approximated to be originated among bats as the main reservoir and got transferred to humans through multiple intermediate hosts like camels and civets. The surveys of the initial cases of COVID-19 in China show that this severe respiratory syndrome also comes from bats and then be transmitted to humans through intermediate hosts like pangolins from the Huanan seafood area. With the closure of this market, the virus outbreak has not been eliminated, and due to its contagious nature, the COVID-19 has spread via human to human transmission throughout the world. The disease was announced as a pandemic by the WHO (World Health Organization) on 11th March 2020. By 27th March 2020, there are one hundred and ninety-nine nations have contracted the disease. There are 600,000 affected patients and 27,000 deaths. It brings the mortality rate to 4.5 percent. The pandemic has also caused social, cultural, and enormous psychological damage to the nations.
As of March 2020, there are no available antiviral treatments or vaccines for COVID-19, and the production of vaccines on such a large scale will be a long process. Hence, the best way in order to control the virus is prevention that is suggested by the WHO. Also, given the information that the infection has come due to food consumption, it appears that there is a need to take additional steps than before. It requires the implementation of stricter rules on the hygiene of food and food consumption on a worldwide basis, which will prevent this crisis. International organizations have multiple standards and mandates when it comes to war, weapons, environment, chemicals, bombs, and many traumatic events, but there are no particular rules when it comes to the consumption of food. Thus, there is no guarantee that in the coming years, the consumption of another animal will not lead to another worldwide pandemic.
Another article by Arif (2020) for the Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology, talks about the origin of this virus that a single-stranded RNA goes back to the 1960s when the earliest virus causes bronchitis in chicken and other viruses that were found from the nasal secretions in humans were called as coronavirus OC43 and coronavirus 229E. In 2003, it also included SARS-COV, the HKU1 in 2005, and the SARS-COV2 in 2019. The majority of these virus types cause severe respiratory disorders in humans. The clinical outcomes of the COVID-19 are similar to that of influenza along with fever, cough, myalgia, dyspnea, diarrhea, and headaches, which shows improved with antiviral treatments and antiviral vaccinations.
There are thousands of cases and over 3,300 deaths worldwide, with the majority of cases in China. This situation has warranted WHO to call it a pandemic. The cases outside China like in nations like Iran, Italy, Korea, and a few other places are getting attention because here, the numbers are constantly on the rise/ On the global side, the World bank passed a 12 billion dollars help, assistance packages, and financing quickly for combating the pandemic. The world has now moved beyond containment, and the time to contain has passed. The aim now is minimizing transmission, which requires a multitude of actions that are needed to be done at the domestic, local, and international levels. Testing is one of the fundamental issues.
The spread of this latest strain of the virus is disrupting the social and economic life in multiple dimensions and ways. The crisis has come up in the time of rapid digitalization, which has brought attention to the situation by governments to take necessary steps for the people. The pandemic has far-reaching consequences that go beyond the spread of this disease and the efforts to control it. One of the major consequences of this disease is a supply shortage in different sectors as a result of panic buying and storing. There is also an increase in the use of goods. It has also led to price gouging. Among the pharmaceutical industry, there is a strong supply shortage of basic drugs. It is not limited to the supply of medicines but also food, and other grocery items with the departmental stores are also facing a crisis in the form of overcrowding and people fighting with each other for goods. The technological industry is also feeling the threat due to the closing of the shipment of electronic goods. On February 28, 2020, the global stock markets experienced the largest single week fall since the financial crisis of 2008. In March 2020, the Global stock markets crashed, and as the pandemic rises, multiple high profile events of economic, technological, financial, fashion, sports, and other related areas have been canceled or postponed.
Role of government and agencies in the pandemic
In the wake of this outbreak, many products have been out of stock across several cities and nations. The schools, kindergartens, secondary schools have been closed, and this closure has been extended multiple times as the pandemic gets serious and out of control. On February 4, 2002, Macau announced a nationwide closing for fifteen days. In Japan, the pandemic is also worse where face masks have been sold out across the nation, and new stocks have been depleted as well. Mass gatherings in any form have been refused by the governments. With the close of schools and colleges in Japan, the pandemic affects the education of 13 million students. Economically, trade has also been affected. In South Korea, on February 5, 2020, the Hyundai Company closed the production due to the absence of parts as there was no international supply. South Korea also reports the human to human transmission of the COVID-19 since February 2020. The government has reported a fall in the economy by 1 percent due to the pandemic. It has also provided 140 billion dollars to the local authorities for support and distribution of hygiene products and equipment.
In Taiwan, the government announced a temporary restriction on the export of face masks in order to supply these masks to its own citizens. The flights to multiple cities and nations have been canceled, and multiple cross-strait destinations have been canceled. In India, the economists suggest that the pandemic will cause a problem to major supply chain conglomerates like fertilizers, pharmaceuticals, textiles, automobiles, and electronics. India, too, has banned the export of ventilators, masks, and textile raw materials in order to secure resources for its own nation. Malaysia and Indonesia report cancellation of trips and flights to many major destinations. With the outbreak getting worse, many concerts and festivals are canceled and postponed.
System of communication
Restrictions in social contact and movement have demanded new ways of communication. For all levels of the organization, developing communication in this pandemic is uncharted territory. Many clients have reached out for help in helping the government and agencies to prepare in internal and external communications and helping the people to prepare for the COVID impact as a response to the outbreak. One of the first steps that all agencies have been applying in communication is being proactive. It is so that the people get first-hand information about the virus and updates regarding the virus and also prohibit any space from spreading misinformation, rumors, or false action strategies. The agencies are focusing on email-based communication rather than call centers. In communication, conveying empathy is what is vital. The agencies focus on giving information to make sure that people feel that they are a priority.
The language of communication also revolves around emotions and expressions of involvement. Such communication will establish trust, which is necessary during the outbreak. Governments have engaged the media in this crisis time in order to give information to the masses. Internally the staff has also been given responsibilities and clearly defined roles in order to avoid confusion and have a division of responsibility so that people may know where they need to go and who they need to approach in order to get appropriate help. New and traditional media are helping in distributing this information to the people. It is a time for critical steps and decisions, and it is important that micromanagement is resisted. There are clear guidelines established by governments, health agencies, and crisis management institutions in all the nations about how a citizen must behave when in the public sphere in order to avoid the disease.
It is true that this outbreak has resulted in distraction and chaos from the main works. The situation is overwhelming, and work suffers from the large impact of this crisis. In such a scenario, setting up teams gives a strong space for communication and organization of roles and responsibilities. The system of disaster communication here is aimed to reduce panic and promote proper health behaviors. It helps in coordinating health responses among the stakeholders for large masses and help in mobilizing resources to the needful. Who recommends maintaining social distancing in order to communicate face to face. As a result of the outbreak, telehealth or telemedicine is being used for non-urgent consultations and avoiding crowding in hospitals and medical facilities. It is up to the telehealth provider to judge from the phone consultation of the patient needs a visit. Other methods of communication are via call centers, text messages, emails, real-time updates through microsites, video conferencing and calls, and other digital platforms.
Ethical Considerations in the management of COVID-19
The rapid spread of the COVID-19 has altered the way of operations. There is a fresh new set of mandates issued by governments and health agencies that need to be followed immediately so that there is the containment of the spread. The new changes also require ethical considerations. This pandemic has definitely brought up dilemmas about which special ethical guiding principles are needed. Ethical issues help the people in decision making during an outbreak such as this, and they give guiding principles that act as a moral compass for people and clinicians, both. The first necessary step is to have equal respect for everyone, as each person matters equally. Irrespective of social status, people must be treated equally.
The foremost ethical step that is necessary is to reduce the speed of contamination through the pandemic. In order to do this, people must be away from one another. Crowding at places will result in a greater chance of catching the disease. In the same way, there must be proper resource allocation, which must be based on reasonable circumstances, the best available information, and is practical. The information must be conveyed transparently and openly and updated through reliable channels as the situation changes—the Who provides an extensive guide for such situations. In the case of COVID, there is also a need for public surveillance. It is necessary to avoid gatherings crowds, and in order to ensure this happens, systematic observation from law enforcement agencies is an essential component of the emergency like the outbreak of COVID-19. This system must not be complex or inconsistent, and the resource allocation for the surveillance must be appropriate.
The final ethical consideration is how to peacefully manage universal participation. In order to make sure this happens, the surveillance team will gather information about the areas that need aid through participation. The appropriate risks involved in the participation process must also be considered. The most important part of ethical consideration is the management of communication and the way the message is disclosed to the people and communities. It is necessary to give careful attention to the way through the information gets shared and communicated so that the risks associated with information dissipation like rumors, stigma, lies are not spread. It will also help in avoiding discrimination. Finally, the frontline workers and health personnel are the most qualified people to handle the risks and benefits associated with the COVID-19 outbreak, so the people to are obligated to listen and follow their professional advice.
In order to reconcile all the processes related to the control and elimination of COVID-19, there is a need to focus on response and recovery. The impact of this outbreak is gigantic and has brought drastic changes in the lives of people. Interventions and mitigations are needed, and if people do not participate in the government mandate practices related to controlling this virus. In the absence of following the required mandates, there will be an even bigger social and economic damage resulted in heavy loss of both life and resources. It will result in setting nation back for several years and decades, and with such setbacks, there is the spawning of other issues like crime, mental health problems, life risks, poverty, and other negative behaviors.
The appropriate actions are being taken by the agencies, and it is the duty of citizens to cooperate with these steps. As a whole, these steps and interventions are necessary to eliminate the disease and provide treatment to the affected. All risk management tools are put to practice, and social and economic support system is directed in this same direction. As this health pandemic goes under control, and the social and economic shocks dissipate, there will be a need for a profound revaluation of a system that addresses concerns similar to this pandemic in the future. It is necessary to ensure that there are fairness and resilience, and these two aspects become integral to any business or organization in the world. This global pandemic of COVID-19 is a wakeup call to bring a change in the consumption of resources, facilities, food, and other lifestyle choices that humanity has made post-industrialization, and it signals that some of these choices were not positive and beneficial. As a response, there is a need for a fresh outlook on global governance.
Arif, T. B., & Ali, A. (2020). Harmonizing the COVID-19 cacophony: People need guidance. Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology, 1-6.
Farnoosh, G., Zarei, S., Zijoud, S. S. H., & Zijoud, S. R. H. (2020). Is there a guarantee that the crisis of Covid-19 will not be repeated?. Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness, 1-4.
James, J. J. (2020). COVID-19: From Epidemic to Pandemic. Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness, 1-5.
World Health Organization. (2020) “Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19): situation report, 67.”.