The Malta Independent 26 September 2020, Saturday

TMID Editorial: Coronavirus – A world in agony

Wednesday, 25 March 2020, 09:16 Last update: about 7 months ago

Maybe it took longer than it should have for the world to realise that the Coronavirus was not something that could be ignored.

And it is mostly in countries which procrastinated on their efforts to combat the disease that it has now caused so much distress and deaths.

The Coronavirus scourge has hit the world hard, bringing it to its knees – medically and economically – in a few weeks. As it moved from continent to continent, country to country, town to town, village to village, it caused devastation wherever it struck.

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Yes, in their great majority, people tend to recover and most of the deaths registered so far have been of elderly people and others who already had an underlying medical condition, which the virus weakened further until it killed them.

But the effects of the virus are still to be discovered, especially when it comes to the long-term impact on people’s health in general. We now know that it takes weeks for people to recover and be declared free of the virus. But it is still unknown whether the virus will have lasting effect on the bodies it occupied for so long.

There is also the psychological impact of the situation that is still a huge question mark. How people who have contracted the virus react to it is still a matter that needs exploration. How people who were not physically affected but who had to spend long days in quarantine living with the fear that they could be the next victim is also something about which we now no little. And how people who isolated themselves from their families and friends for weeks will make it back into the community remains to be seen.

It will take months, if not years, for life to return to normal. First of all, the virus needs to be controlled and hopefully eradicated. Then, when it happens, one will have to get used to being “social” again. We are depriving ourselves of human contact – no handshakes, no hugs, no pecks on the cheek: will we trust each other to start doing these customary greetings again?

In England, which celebrated Mother’s Day last Sunday, children were told to stay away from the person who gave them birth, especially if she is now in the twilight of her life. Will we be told the same thing when May comes and it will be our turn to celebrate Mother’s Day?

Many outlets in Malta – those that can still operate – have erected a barrier between their staff and their clients so as to limit contact. Will those barriers be removed or will we be too scared and leave them there, feeling “safer” that some piece of glass and plastic separates us?

And, when flights to other countries are re-opened, will we be courageous enough to go on a plane? Or will our anxiety be heightened ever further the first time another passenger sneezes? Will we go on cruises again?

Will activities we normally enjoy, be it sport, drama, dance, clubbing, eating out and others, resume as we knew them to be?

People are asking themselves these and many other questions over and over again.

One question most are asking is when it will be over. The more optimistic people say weeks, the more pessimistic say months. No-one knows.

Indeed, it is a world in agony.

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