Australia, Community, Environment, Mental Health

Corona Fallout

When I looked at the stats for countries being hit with this pandemic, it struck me as surprising that the number of cases/deaths due to Covid 19, in some places, did not correlate proportionately with the level of population.

It would be easy to assume hygiene levels and santization practices might be lower in underdeveloped countries, as compared to say, Australia. And that spread of disease would be faster. In countries with higher levels of health care, the contagion might have been anticipated to be slower. This does not appear to be the cases if you look at the current statistics. Places like Malaysia and Thailand, are doing remarkably well, with a small number of Covid 19 cases, in regions with populations far greater than others. Why? Is it their level of preventative measures?

Here are the current stats country by country, if you are interested.

Why is Covid-19 so prevalent in Italy?

Then there is Italy – why do they have so many Covid cases? Some suggest that many Chinese and other businessmen, have been visiting the north of Italy, in greater numbers of recent times.

Starting in Codogno, a small town in southern Lombardy, one of the wealthiest, most densely populated, and most globalized areas in Europe, the coronavirus circulated very fast and easily…. The Codogno economic district hosts large companies and multinationals – making it a hub for production and international trade. Workers, salesmen, managers, and consultants of all sorts travel daily to their workplace, many of them commuting to nearby cities. International partners visit from abroad. And of course, Milan is a mere 70 kilometer drive from Codogno. Although “patient zero” has not been found yet, it looks increasingly likely that the virus had been circulating in Europe weeks before “patient one” was identified in late February.

https://thediplomat.com/2020/03/covid-19-hits-italy-a-test-for-china-ties/
singapore

Singapore

Singapore, to its immense credit, appears to be managing the crisis well. They were well prepared, quickly instituting pro-active measures after having previously learnt valuable lessons in pandemic management, during the SARS outbreak.

A New World Order?

The current crisis highlights just how connected and how vulnerable we, as a society are. Our financial and business sectors, recreation and travel mean a contagion can and does travel fast and far, throughout the entire world. Not even in a small village in Iceland are you safe, from this virus. Whether we care to admit it or night, we do live in a global village. We can no longer live and conduct affairs without considering the rest of the world.

iceland

The economies of the Western developed countries are suffering, just as China is beginning to recover. Many Western democracies, including mine, will inevitably head into a deep economic recession, in coming months. We need to have in place new and different strategies and policies for business, health care, education and technology in order to appropriately respond to this contagion.

Some Chinese communities are questioning whether they should move back to China, from their new bases in Italy. What effect would this have?

“About 100,000 people from Wenzhou, and another 100,000 from nearby Qingtian county, live in Italy, according to official Chinese data, with Milan also hosting a sizable Chinese community. “We definitely feel safer in China. The government is more efficient … Hospitals here can treat patients well, but the government’s ability to respond to an emergency is not ideal,” Wu said.”

https://www.scmp.com/news/china/society/article/3073987/stay-or-go-tough-call-chinese-italy-coronavirus-crisis-hits

The social fallout from this virus also highlights the disparity between European countries, with high levels of health care against the economic might of America, who has almost no universal health care. [Let me know if this is wrong].

I wonder why Universities and Schools are only now moving to E-learning in response to the viral threat. Why didn’t the education facilities, fully implement this mode of delivery, earlier? Can I attribute the reason to their penchant for keeping a social interactive community on university campuses alive? Wouldn’t E-learning be far more profitable to them?

Climate Conspiracy?

If I believed in conspiracy theories, which I don’t, my cynical self would also suggest that the release of the virus, if it was deliberate, is a discrete way to circumvent and divert debate and action, on action against climate change.

Continuing and ever increasing school strikes successfully highlighted issues of climate change. Now that schools are closed in many countries, except Australia, the strikes cannot happen.

Moreover, we cannot gather in groups of more than 100 in Australia. Some countries ban gatherings of less than 50, and in Portugal, gatherings must be less than 5 persons.

Food and Job Security

Adding to this, is the issue of global food security. The shops across the world are emptying, and people are staying home, for the most part. Food is becoming harder to obtain. If transport is halted, how do we all access food?

Many have already lost their employment or will lose it in coming months. Many will become homeless or develop mental health issues.

How Fragile is our existing World Order?

leaves

A Positive Effect

If there is one postive to be found in self-imposed isolation or government quarantine and in business shut-down and potential failure, it is that some parts of the planet and nature, get a break from human intervention and destruction.

  • Global rainforests may not get burnt this week.
  • Fewer carbon emissions from reduced transport services.
  • That precious koala habitat may not get cleared/logged this week.
  • Industries may refraim from discharging their poisonous effluent into the sea this week, due to shutdowns.
  • The lake near my Home by the Sea might not have pieces of plastic litter from building supplies contaminating it this week. {we are on track so far}
  • People may re-discover making ends meet – growing their own food, cooking for themselves, entertaining at home, chatting with family.

In short: we get a chance to pause and breathe too.

130 thoughts on “Corona Fallout”

  1. So some quick thoughts. I apologise if they are not well organised.

    What was your life like before all of this? Was planning for a deadly global pandemic part of your financial and other life planning? Did you stockpile toilet paper, buy a bread maker, and electric hair cutter before the pandemic?

    Look at these question from a pre-SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 point of view. Before SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19, how willing were you fund, build and maintain empty hospitals-vacant buildings, and stockpile expensive medical equipment, medicines and face masks etc. just in case a once in a hundred year disease outbreak?

    I think the questions you raised in your post are “Hindsight is 20/20” type questions.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I gladly agree that my taxes pay for universal free health care, more hospitals and medical staff. You are correct, I don’t stockpile food but some people do stockpile for such disasters. I fo however always aim for a higher level of self sufficiency, try to always reduce waste, recycle and upcycle. It seems folks are making their own food. I make my own food. I have always thought food security was an issue when I see farmers here going under because they cannot compete with cheaper imports. This post was written on 20 March when things were not widely known and a Covid lockdown had not started here. I am unsure of your point, Khurt?

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  3. I wonder why Universities and Schools are only now moving to E-learning in response to the viral threat. Why didn’t the education facilities, fully implement this mode of delivery, earlier? Can I attribute the reason to their penchant for keeping a social interactive community on university campuses alive? Wouldn’t E-learning be far more profitable to them?

    Keep in mind that online course and universities have been around for decades in the USA. They are not popular with students and but may be profitable for colleges and universities but is definitely profitable for companies selling e-learning platforms. The authenticity of a particular student’s work is a problem as online just about anyone can do a project rather than the actual student.
    Computer marked assessment generally have a tendency of being only knowledge-based and not necessarily practicality-based. As they are only learning on a theoretical basis, how are medical, science and engineering students learning without practicums? No amounts of online lectures can substitute for hands on training for medical and nursing students.
    96% of Americans own mobile devices but only 73% of Americans own a personal computer. I assume it’s the same in Canada and Western Europe, and some Asian/Pacific countries and perhaps much lower in Africa and South East Asia.
    There is also the question of the privacy and safety of online learning platforms especially when it involves children. Can the student really be sure that the software they were required to install to take their exam isn’t collecting information about their computer use? Is the software recording them when the computer is not being used for school work? For young children, school is a safe place for them to be taught while their parents are at work. Making online learning the norm would mean that parents have to work (any non-IT related job) outside the home would be at a disadvantage.
    > The general consensus on children, especially younger ones, is that a structured environment is required, because kids are more easily distracted.
    Then there is the social aspect of university where many of us make life long friends. My wife and I met in our sophomore year. We’ve both had experiences with other lifelong friends that can not be replicated online.
    I have to college aged children; one is a freshman and the other a junior. Neither one of them like online education and they are using the most current tools. They hate it. The educators are equally frustrated. But it’s the only option available right now. My children and most of the other college children I have spoken to think they are getting a lesser quality education. My daughter says group discussions for projects are unbearable because only one person can talk at a time, because of the need to maximise screen space to see the teacher, she feels like she’s alone in the virtual classroom, back ground noises are a distraction, and since her bedroom is now a classroom it is no longer associated with the calmness of sleep.
    So before we advocate for online learning, we (the collective we) need to solve a host of other problems.
    Some links:
    Disadvantages of E-Learning, December 21, 2019 by Sander Tamm: https://e-student.org/disadvantages-of-e-learning/
    How countries are using edtech (including online learning, radio, television, texting) to support access to remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic by the Word Bank: https://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/edutech/brief/how-countries-are-using-edtech-to-support-remote-learning-during-the-covid-19-pandemic
    As School Moves Online, Many Students Stay Logged Out , April 6, 2020, By Dana Goldstein, Adam Popescu and Nikole Hannah-Jones in the New York Time: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/06/us/coronavirus-schools-attendance-absent.html

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    1. Thanks for clarifying your point/s and for answering in detail why e-learning wasn’t adopted sooner. I have a few points to make in response. Australia has a very high rate of PC ownership – perhaps the highest but we have appalling internet coverage, unfortunately. So that hampers the adoption of Elearning
      but I dispute that it is always poorer in quality. It is what you put in and also the qualities of the teacher that determine the outcomes. I learnt through correspondence for eight years and had no problems. Perhaps I was lucky? Practical experience was learnt via workshops onsite: residentials once each semester, for a week, or so. Exams were sat in a local college hall under supervision. We never had the teacher to speak to and were reliant on post. Australia is a huge country with many remote areas and our “school of the air,” has been educating primary kids for at least 60 years via two way radio. Which is why we should have better internet coverage, but that was a political decision. Anyways, I feel the issue with authenticity is there regardless of the mode of education. My son teaches at a Uni – in IT and sees appalling instances of plagiarism and sharing/copying work and assignments with his on site students. What difference would it make whether they learnt online?
      Security – yes that is an issue that needs addressing.
      I agree there are also some courses that can’t be delivered online but still many that can.
      The pandemic has forced the Unis to up their game and think out of the box. Some teachers will cope and others won’t, just as some students cope with online learning and others won’t.
      I see we agree that mmaintaing social connections is worth preserving and campuses are a vehicle for this.

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      1. I lumped Australia and New Zealand in with Asia/Pacific countrries when I made the comment that some of them would have similar computer access to the USA. The USA is just sligtly larger than the USA but we have many remote areas that are unserved by internet or modern cellular service. To few people in those places and it’s costly to build out.

        My children are taking courses at home because they have no choice at the moment. One is studying art history and classic with the intent to work in rare book curation and musesum. She’s distraught because she has lost her museum intertenship, one that is competitive. The internsip requires her to be onsite with no exposure to the public but she is unable to find housing near campus as no one in the town wants to rent to a potential COVID infected person.

        She has classmates who are foreign students who were forced to return to their home countries and now who are unable to attend classes remotely because they are in a differnt time zone or live somewhere with limited or no access to the internet.

        We need to acknowledge that online learning pre-COVID was only really viable for well to do people living in places with modern infrastructure.

        I think communist China is probably doing fine with this right now.

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        1. We did have success with correspondence courses in remote areas. I had colleagues in remote mining areas pre-internet who successfully completed the course. It would not work for primarily practical courses or an internship. Foreign students here have returned home too. But they will return. It is big business here.

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