The fear and uncertainty of how and when the pandemic will end has certainly taken a toll on all individuals in society in various ways. Individuals have been affected economically, physically and mentally etc.
The COVID19 infection was a global outbreak which many governments and their citizens were not prepared for. The rapid spread of this unknown virus with no existing cure or vaccine results in feelings of panic and fear. This can lead to irrational choices being made by individuals in the spur of a moment. As the pandemic disrupted food supply chains, fearmongers stormed the supermarkets and emptied the shelves due to speculations of shortages. Videos capturing such actions were rampant on social media, inciting those in other countries to do the same, thus becoming a global behaviour. Thus, this build up of negative feelings was exacerbated by the use of social media where many assumptions and misleading information were initially spread. All these negative feelings create unnecessary stress on individuals, taking a huge toll on their mental health.
The impact of COVID-19 across industries has resulted in many individuals facing unemployment and financial difficulties. In an attempt to contain the outbreak, social distancing and quarantine measures were implemented which resulted in industries like the aviation and construction sectors and other businesses to halt work. In the USA alone, more than 40 million Americans have filed for unemployment from April to May 2020. As a result, individuals have to find new or temporary forms of employment to mitigate their sudden loss of income. Luckily, there are some firms which have re-deployed their staff to maintain their livelihood. Although the pandemic has formed SIA to ground their flights, the airline company has re-deployed its 800 cabin crew as care ambassadors in hospitals and transport ambassadors at public transport hubs. This has been an extremely effective measure as existing employees have extended their appreciation as the cabin crew persons possessed effective communication and service skills that could be learnt from, aiding in the handling of the pandemic. Thus, many people are going through financial difficulties as they face problems of unemployment and pay cuts.
However, there are also positive behaviours and feelings that were formed during this period. Individuals tried to discover new living routines, coping with the new changes brought by working from home for adults and elearning for students. Being cooped up at home also generates much boredom, which motivated many to pick up new hobbies such as baking, exercising and reading. These hobbies helped many to cope with the anxiety and uncertainty of the COVID situation and has the additional benefit of improving oneself. Many people have also taken the opportunity to take online courses to upgrade themselves and build up their portfolio. Educational institutions such as Harvard University released 67 free online courses. This is a very optimistic outcome of the social distancing measures as people can learn new skills to increase their chances in the job market without further straining their finances. Various individuals in society have also shown many kind gestures in such a perilous time. For example, photographer Jeryl Tan offered free basic food photography service to F&B outlets and hawkers during the circuit breaker period. This is one of the many kind gestures that people have taken to fully utilize their time and help others in need. Despite times of financial difficulty and anxiety, it is heartwarming to note that many people choose to be compassionate and generous in the way they treat others.
Overall, the global pandemic has resulted in changes in many different aspects of our lives. There is thus a need for individuals to have a positive and appropriate mindset in adjusting to these new changes amidst this global pandemic.
By Simon Ng