By Nonso K. Iloeje
My name is Nonso K. Iloeje. I am 13 years old and a JS2 student in Mea Mater Elizabeth High School, Enugu, Nigeria. In this essay, I want to discuss some of the various ways the COVID-19 pandemic has affected our world.
First of all, what is COVID-19?
Corona Virus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a contagious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome corona virus (SARS-Cov-2). It causes severe and acute respiratory syndrome with complications such as pneumonia, viral sepsis, etc.
The first recorded case of COVID-19 was identified in the city of Wuhan, in Hubei Province in China in December 2019. However, the first recorded case outside of China occured a month later in Thailand. Since then, it has spread to all other parts of the world.
In January 2020, the World Health Organization WHO classified it as a public health emergency of international proportions. However, on 11th March 2020, WHO declared it a global pandemic because of the over 118,000 cases of the corona virus illness in over 110 countries and territories over the world. A pandemic is defined as an epidemic occurring worldwide, or over a very wide area crossing international boundaries and usually affecting a large number of people.
On 27th February, 2020, the Federal Ministry of Health confirmed the first case of COVID-19 in my country Nigeria when an Italian citizen in Lagos tested positive for the virus. As at 9th January 2021, a little over one year since its outbreak, more than 88 million people in the world have tested positive for this virus and more than 1.8 million have died from it. Horrible, isn’t it?
In order to combat this worldwide pandemic, many compulsory health protocols have been imposed on every person in the world. These include the compulsory wearing of face mask, the total lockdown in every town, city and country, self isolation, social distancing, no public gathering, compulsory personal hygiene such as the requirement for frequent hand washing with soap and use of hand sanitizers. In December 2020, a new COVID-19 vaccine was developed and approved for use in vaccinations so as to immunize people against this killer disease.
Indeed, COVID-19 has changed our world in the way we know it. It has changed the way we live, work, play, learn, and interact. It has indeed affected almost every aspect of our life, but in order to save time and space, I will present in this paper some eight various ways it has changed our world.
The COVID-19 pandemic has grossly affected our mass transportation systems. Air travel has been grounded. International flights have stopped. Recently, only few flights have been allowed. Travel by sea and railways have similarly been suspended. Travel by road has also been affected. National boundaries and international borders have been closed. Passenger cars which hitherto carried seven passengers are now restricted to carry only three.
This collapse in our transportation system has a very negative effect on trade and commerce. It has restricted the movement of people, goods and services and thereby ruined the economy of countries and their people.
The disgusting deadly outbreak of the corona virus pandemic has also affected our sports and entertainment industries. People no longer flock to stadiums to watch games and matches. Stadiums are now empty. Players play to empty stadiums. This must of course affect the level of their play and the income which the players and their organizers would have received from such matches and games.
The 2020 Olympic Games which was to be held in Japan was cancelled. Many professional league matches were cancelled or postponed. Musicians and other entertainers do not hold concerts anymore. It is now becoming a dull world where we are constrained to huddle indoors.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to stay at home to stay safe. This has affected the way we worship our God. Christians and moslems no longer go to their churches or mosques. We now worship from our individual homes through live-streaming on television. Because of this, the usual tithes and offerings can no longer be collected during worship. Churches and mosques can no longer organize money raising activities such as Thanksgiving and launching to get money from their followers. Hence, priests, imams, churches and mosques have become poorer.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also affected our educational system and our ways of teaching, learning and examination. We no longer sit physically inside our classrooms in our schools to learn and to study. On-campus learning and teaching have been suspended. Teaching, learning and examinations are now conducted on-line through digital virtual learning platforms.
Although many people may be tempted to conclude that this development is harmful, I do not think it is entirely so.
For example: On-line digital virtual learning has reduced our school fees. We no longer have to pay the huge costs for boarding and feeding, although we pay some additional costs for buying data and airtime from our internet service providers. Also, on-line digital virtual learning has forced some of our teachers and even some of our parents who were reluctant or slow in learning how to use the computer, to now embrace the on-line digital virtual learning technology.
Despite all these, I would still have preferred to be physically present in my school to learn, study and play in my dormitory and classrooms with my school mates.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the way we socialize. We are constrained to obey the COVID-19 protocol of social distancing and to stay home and stay safe. Hence, people can no longer gather in public to socialize or go for vacations, or go to the cinema, or go to amusement parks, etc.
We cannot gather to celebrate cultural events such as masquerade festivals, new yam festivals, or religious festivals such as Christmas or Easter celebrations, weddings, burials, etc. We are forced to stay at home. This constraint has put some separation and distancing between families and friends.
Is it good or is it bad?
The protocol which requires us to stay at home to stay safe is good because in addition to helping to stop the spread of the disease, it has also forced many parents to stay at home with their children. Some fathers can no longer frequent their drinking clubs, while some mothers can no longer attend all those numerous meetings of their women organizations. This is good for us the children. However, it may be bad because the idle boredom has made some parents quarrel.
The corona virus pandemic has changed our world of work and the way we conduct business in our offices. Gone is the regular 9am to 5pm office hours as we know it. It has been replaced by a new protocol of work-from-home, video conference meetings, live-streaming and virtual offices.
We can argue that this is an improvement. It has reduced the wasted hours we spend on the road commuting to and from our offices. It has also reduced traffic jams. Virtual and video conferencing have enabled people who reside in different parts of the world to simultaneously conduct business with one another in real time.
For example: Somebody in my city Enugu Nigeria can network in a video conference to conduct business at the same time with his colleagues in far away China, Australia, America, Europe, etc. in real time. Hence, the cost and the speed of doing business are therefore reduced.
Our food production and food marketing outlets have been adversely affected by this pandemic. Many farmers are afraid of being infected by this virus. They no longer go to their farms. There is therefore fewer food and people are hungry.
Also, food marketing outlets such as shops, markets, supermarkets, restaurants, cafes and food plazas are closed or have restricted opening hours. The general effect is that this pandemic has forced a decline in food production and in the income which would have come from this industry.
One of the greatest impacts of this pandemic is its effect on our health and on our health care industry. More than 88 million people in the world have so far been infected with this virus. More than 1.8 million people have already died. More and more people will still be infected and many of them will die. Death from this illness is very frightening, painful and terrible.
This pandemic has put very heavy pressure on our hospitals, our front-line health workers, doctors, nurses, health-care providers, drug companies and in fact on everybody including me and you.
I am just an ordinary junior secondary school student only in JS2, and only just 13 years old, and hoping to live long enough to 100 years before I die; it is my sincere hope and serious prayers that the newly developed vaccine will help us acquire immunity against this killer disease.
In conclusion, the corona virus pandemic has covered the world with fear. People are afraid of this deadly disease. It has changed the way we live, work, play and interact with one another.
It has changed every aspect of our world in ways we never envisioned. In our attempts to cope with and overcome these difficulties, COVID-19 has forced us to create a new normal. The human costs are unsustainable. It is therefore my plea that all of us, our doctors, medical practitioners, scientists, engineers, politicians and indeed everybody on earth should join hands to beat this virus and save humanity.
Nonso K. Iloeje
JS 2 (Bronze)
MEA MATER ELIZABETH HIGH SCHOOL