As we step into 2021, many of us wish to erase the dreary coronavirus chapter of 2020 from our lives. Not only did COVID 19 impact humans physically but the lastingly depressing mental health imprints have left many of us tainted for life. Being away from our loved ones and sacrificing our socializing needs for survival has cast a gloomy spell around but battling these negative emotions and keeping optimistic is key to our universal struggle as a community. Experiencing the crests and troughs of pandemic, we must also note the silver linings that it has produced during its pendency. Once we breeze through these testing times, there is a world full of new opportunities for all of us. In order for us to stay abloom and hopeful, let us focus on the positive vibes and benefits that COVID 19 left a mark upon us.

In the mechanical and monotonous lives of ours pre-pandemic, we had somehow forgotten to stop, rest and enjoy the little memories and genuine moments with our near and dear ones. Doing the errands, running around, attending meetings, tiring schedules had all consumed our energies and distracted us from the very purpose i.e. happiness through spending time with others. Even the family vacations were spent with a sense of despair, dreading the impending workload. However, COVID 19 has provided us a reality check on how we maintain our relations and emote towards our loved ones. With life moving at a slow pace amidst lockdowns, it has given us the time to sit back and retrospect on our priorities and motivated us to stay connected with our friends and family members, even though virtually. COVID 19 has given us all a chance to understand the importance of human bonding, care and family ties that had remained disregarded by us for long.

Another very significant change that COVID 19 brought about in our lives was better hygiene, health and nutrition standards for all of us. Junk food, takeaways and casual hygiene had become a part of our comfort lives prior the spread of coronavirus. However, this pandemic opened our eyes to building internal immunity, antibodies and resistance to fight off germs, bacteria and viruses of all kinds. Never before had we taken our diet or nutrition that seriously. However, post COVID 19, healthy living has become a major goal for almost the entire population of Homo sapiens. Our hygiene practices had also had a revival with much importance being laid on sanitation, cleanliness and purification.

The quarantine has welcomed unique notions to face the lockdowns and still be able to help our communities. Corporations across the globe have started to come up with ranges of products and services that empower us to stay connected with our loved ones and to fight the boredom of being confined in four walls. This has paved the way for companies to come up with novel ideas to function virtually and attract the prospective customers online which has led to innovations and breakthroughs that can take the world by a storm. For attaining this end, corporations require online tools and software that help make this shift to digital offices and virtual classrooms unified. In this regard, many Apps have emerged that provide a self-help portal to workers for staying connected in such difficult times. From chat bots to computerized emergency protocols, this technological trend has paved way for touch-less biometric systems, time trackers and other collaborative tools that provide an alternative to the existing business setups, virtually. The lockdowns have led the establishments and industries to leap towards the robotic era for effective and continued business progression during such emergencies.

The work regimes have also changed and remote working has started becoming mainstream during the pandemic. Many firms now work 100% remotely and function virtually with no physical offices. With entire cities being locked down, companies around the world had to make this mandatory shift towards this realm of remote working. The partially remote working arrangements proved to be non-advantageous and businesses are turning fully remote based on a culture of trust and integrity of the employees. The future of work after coronavirus will definitely change for good.

Running businesses remotely will also bring about a massive wave of change in real estate. With businesses realizing they no longer need a large physical space in the city to run their business, the demand for workplaces is going to come down and companies will be able to hire talents beyond the localities, as long as there are enough resources. When the need for buildings descents, naturally the prices will dip too, making buildings affordable for all.

Although the pandemic had posed a threat to the whole education system with schools, universities, and colleges being shut down but education had become digitized, accessible and affordable for all. Educational institutions have found a way to overcome this vastly challenging circumstance and google classrooms have begun classes for students again, thanks to technology. Online classes have become the new norm and it has its benefits too. Schools can now save on the infrastructural costs and as a result, the students should not be needed to pay huge sums as fees, making it more affordable. Furthermore, parents also get first-hand knowledge about how classes are taught and can directly know how their child perceives concepts. As the online education system grows, we can expect an increase in the reach and accessibility of education within every section of the society.

Although people are overwhelmed during these times, yet traits like generosity, caring and helping others have been on the rise. People everywhere have risen to the challenge and the response has been heartwarming. Children drawing rainbows to bring delight; volunteers working untiringly day-and-night to assist vulnerable people and health workers, unconceivable fundraising and philanthropic efforts raising millions, health workers risking their lives to save the lives of others, all deserve applaud for rising to the occasion. Such kindness is a testament to human spirit and a silver lining for the cloud of coronavirus calamity.

Another amazing feature of the pandemic is the adaptability and resilience shown by people in all walks of life. Many clubs or events that could be closed are operating online; shops have changed into greengrocers and international conferences have been held online. People are learning new skills and have adjusted to and found new ways of working under social distancing rules. The crisis of pandemic has made us all the more adaptable, beyond our perception.

Although we knew that climate change will devastate our planet if we do not change yet we remained carefree prior the COVID 19 shock. Post that, there has been ongoing debate about whether the pandemic will have a positive or negative long-term effect on the environment. Some say that the lack of climate legislation being passed currently and a potential carbon dioxide emissions increase after lockdown will outweigh the positives. Some argue that this is a perfect time to establish a new green economy; others counter this, saying carbon taxes could prevent a full economic revival. However, 2020 saw a drop in pollution levels, plastic waste, cleaner waters, and wildlife is returning to a safer world. On balance, although there are climate worries, positives for the planet have already come out of coronavirus.

The pandemic has given many of those in lockdown a chance to pause, slow down, reflect and take a rest from chaotic modern life. Nowadays our fast-paced world rarely stops, and a chance to reflect can be invaluable. Peace is an often sought-after commodity and we have been given a perfect opportunity to relax and find tranquility and calm, during lockdown, with roads becoming places of peace, quiet and calm. We no longer need to strain our ears or travel into woods or wilderness to hear birds twittering and chirping happily. The beautiful birdsong is everywhere; a reminder of the life force of our planet, and the importance of stopping to look and listen.

Although meeting in person is a near-impossibility due to virus spreading, there is a newfound sense of togetherness which is infecting us across the world. It is amazing to see the power technology has to unite us; video calls, live broadcasts and many more have allowed new friendships to form over the internet, new organizations to spring up having never met in person, and people everywhere to have learnt new skills – coronavirus and technology has united us so we can learn, laugh, and help others. In addition, we are united by a common gratitude. In every nation, people across the political spectrum, of different origins and beliefs are working together to solve a common crisis; and at a grassroots level community spirit has really taken hold, and groups spanning communities are building bridges. When we unite, we become better people – sharing resources, intelligence and a smile increases chances of success and progress towards defeating the pandemic.

There is no doubt that COVID-19 will have devastating consequences for economies around the world. However, some positives come out of every situation. With universities trying to turn to online education in the wake of widespread lockdown, it will become a permanent feature of our education system. Major universities in the developed world were already investing a huge amount of funds in developing e-learning platforms to offer the increasing number of online courses; this trend will be immensely followed by the rest of the world to cater for any other shock happening in the future. This will not only provide unprecedented access to large segments of society that were neglected before, such as those with restricted access to university campuses (i.e., physically disabled), working professionals and people with limited resources but will also improve social welfare, especially in the resource-constrained economies.

Also, the lockdown will provide a further impetus to the already growing share of online trade/e-commerce around the world. Much of this impact will also be felt in developing countries that were lagging behind the advanced economies. This implies that virtually every one of us will be exposed to online trade in the future. This will create enormous opportunities in the area of e-commerce and will offset some of the negative consequences of COVID-19 on the employment numbers around the world.

Moreover, the focus of the developing world in particular and mature economies, in general, will change from implementing large scale infrastructure projects to build and expand the capacity to scale up health services. This will also propel growth in indigenous research and development activities in the medical science. COVID-19 has also given rise to more open-source medical engineering solutions and has brought professionals from different disciplines and countries together, a trend that is set to continue and will have a positive impact on the health efforts, especially in the less developed countries.

With covid-19 shutting down economic activity in most parts of the world and people staying closer to home, street crimes like assault and robbery are down significantly. Traffic has plummeted as well. As a result, NASA satellites have documented significant reductions in air pollution. This may provide an unexpected advantage to help understand how environmental health can be altered. It may help bring into focus the effect of business as usual on health outcomes that we care about and will help us in imagining the future.

If the pandemic has prompted risky behavior for some, it has encouraged others to embrace preventive measures. The public has become more responsive to calls from the health department services. People are really interested in calling health helplines and finding out what the latest information. That increased cooperation may be a benefit of people associating public health departments with trying to keep them safe from covid-19.Let us hope and pray that the current episode of COVID-19 will be over soon and life will get back to normal. A debate has already started as to which economies will rebound first once the current pandemic is over. There are already some positive signs that peak might already be over in some countries. If we stand united, let there be no doubt that humanity will win over the disease and we will have a big smile again.

About Zahid Shaukat

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