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OPINIONS: Coronavirus, the currents catastrophe of our lives

To dig up some pent-up feelings, Scientia Pakistan carried out a survey as to how exactly people feel about thIs situation.

It has been about three months since everything shut down and activities halted due to this lamentable Coronavirus pandemic. It started in Wuhan, China, and spread across the world like wildfire. With the number of cases shooting across the globe, whole countries had to close their markets, institutes, and public places to ensure social distancing. Quarantined for an indefinite period, the public feels trapped and stressed out. Who knew we would be challenged by Nature with such a nerve-wracking situation? People all around me are affected irrespective of their occupation and location. To dig up some pent-up feelings, Scientia Pakistan carried out a survey as to how exactly people feel about this situation and what they are doing during this trying time.

Arij Najeeb is a student of MS Biochemistry at Michigan State University. She lives in Westland, Michigan. She could not attend college due to severe lockdown restrictions, but online classes are an excellent alternative, thanks to technology. In her area, all shopping malls, gyms are closed, and all outdoor activities she did before this pandemic are affected. Arij said that even inviting friends to my place feels scary. Despite being alone, I observed that people have become more empathetic, revealing a bright side of humanity and all the things humans took for granted before.

But the pandemic affected negatively more than its positive impacts as people cannot go anywhere without the risk of getting sick and the fear of going out and interacting with others that put a heavy toll on their mental health. We, humans, are uncertain and afraid of what the future holds and when will the pandemic ends. A large number of people have lost their jobs, all plans canceled, so yeah, it’s depressing, but we should remain optimistic that’s the only way to prevail our sanity.”

Arij spent most of her time under quarantine studying, cook, cycling, playing board games, etc. She is unsure about when the lockdown will end. The damage that has occurred will not go back to normal anytime soon, it can take a couple of months to get back to routine lives.”

 Arij believes that developing an affective coronavirus vaccine is not an easy task, and scientists and researchers are working hard; hopefully, they will come up with something to eradicate this virus. The US Govt government is helpful in this situation and providing the best at our places. People here are patient and waiting for things to get back to the way they were.

Shahzadi Kausar is a housewife from Islamabad. Since most of her time spent on house chores, her routine affected severely after lockdown because her husband and kids are at home. Her other activities, like going on walks and shopping excursions, are ceased. She now spends more time cooking, spending more time with her family, and tries to keep herself busy with prayers and religious activities. “The positive outcome of this pandemic, she thinks, is that people have started appreciating smaller things in life, the value and importance of family gatherings and events, etc., which were previously thought of as a burden. People have also begun to concentrate on their flaws and seeking forgiveness from Allah. The negative impact is, of course, that everything is closed, including markets, parks, recreational places, important offices, etc. The functions like weddings have postponed or limited to small gatherings that seem a good impact of the pandemic. Mentally, the Coronavirus has spread fear and depression among the masses.”

Her new pastimes include regular Quran recitation, prayers, and following sunnah. And because of the lockdown, she is free to catch up on her long-delayed sewing projects! She hopes that everything is normal before Ramazan. “I don’t know much about what work is actually and sincerely being done, but I bet it’s a lot less compared to the fuss and hype created on media.” Yes, I realize that the government is trying its best, and things are still available in grocery stores, but people here are not cooperative to the government in following strict social distancing and other precautionary measures.

 Obaidullah Abid is an Olevel student from Lahore.  They now have online classes during regular school timings.

Abid says, “Life has changed now as we can’t meet friends and relatives because of the fear of getting infected. Plus I can’t also play outdoor sports, that I miss the most! The atmosphere is cleaner, there is less pollution, and the ozone layer is also recovering. A negative effect is that supplies are running out as people are freaking out and buying extra stuff to stock up in their houses and not caring bout others, especially the poor and needy.

Since people have more time to spend with their families, I think that’s good for improving their mental health, Abid added.

 He plays board games, PS4, indoor sports like table tennis with his brother. And most importantly, he has started praying five times regularly during Ramzan.” I think a few months, around four to seven, will see the normalization in our old routines. But our government is not efficient as even after the lockdown, people are taking social distancing seriously.

 Amna Usman Kazi is a Doctor based in Lahore and teaches at medical college. Since the students have gone home, teaching has been limited to online lectures only. Corona has completely disturbed her routine Life. On the positive side, she spends more time with her family. The surroundings are pure and clean due to fewer humans roaming around destroying Nature. The most negative impact of Coronavirus is the irreparable loss of lives. The fear of Corona and the depression of Quarantine has a significant psychological effect on our society. People are frustrated, short-tempered, and melancholic. She uses her extra time for family bonding, homeschooling her kids, online lectures, baking, cooking, and reading.“She believes that With complete lockdown, we can get hold of the situation in 4 to 6 weeks; until then, we have to strictly follow the social distancing. 

Yes, the scientists and researchers are doing their best, the problem is that the virus mutates every now and then, but let’s pray we can overcome that too.

Shema Arsalan practices Medicine and lives in Gujrat.” I encounter many patients that are in danger due to lack of facilities.”

The Corona pandemic has forced Shema to compromise with family time. A positive effect is that accidents, street crimes, and pollution have all been reduced. The negative impact is the inculcation of fear, which will take much time to go away. Trauma and anxiety negatively affect mental health.  During the lockdown, she keeps herself busy with her work and domestic chores. She thinks it will take about 1 to 2 years for things to return to normal. Yes, the scientific research community is working hard to develop a vaccine for the virus. 

Amber Khalid is a housewife and mother. She lives in Washington, US. “My work and daily chores have increased twice, or I should say thrice since my kids and husband are home 24/7. I have to make more food, do more cleaning and laundry, keep up with my kids’ study schedules and put in more effort to discipline them. The list goes on! “

 A positive impact on her daily routine is that she doesn’t have to drive the kids to and from school anymore. Since their extracurricular activities are no more, they have learned to get along with each other and play together. “We spend more time together as a family and do activities together as well. On another note, we also have time to ponder our flaws and shortcomings and think about how we can be a better version of ourselves once this pandemic is over. Now I use these 24 hours more efficiently to do more stuff than before. I am thankful to Allah, peoples’ priorities have been changed, their focus has been shifted to what is more important and necessary. I observed that we wasted time on things that are not of importance. The real thing is our relationship with family and friends, with God, and we should give them attention and time to attain peace.

Khadija has done her M Phil in Psychology from NIP, Quaid-e-Azam University. Being a housewife and mother living in Islamabad, she observed so many changes in the personal life and the lives of her people. Anxiety after hearing the news and concern for her family’s safety is the most substantial effect. Going out is totally banned, and even playing and strolling on the lawn is limited. Entertaining a toddler with a never-ending reserve of energy is her primary job during this lockdown. Apart from physical safety, like washing hands and sanitizing the house, keeping everyone mentally healthy is a big challenge. Explaining to kids why they can’t go out, even to school, is no easy task. The biggest challenge for her is keeping her family physically, emotionally, and mentally healthy. Entertaining her daughter, who is too young to understand what’s going on, is quite a challenge. Not being able to go outside, to play, to shop, to eat, and meet people is taking an emotional toll on everyone.” Being a psychologist, I am trying to keep the environment in my home healthy and productive. News and television are limited and discussed to relieve anxiety, thus providing emotional catharsis and support for each other. I try to develop activities that will keep family members and children busy like arts and crafts, writing, cooking, board games, etc. It’s essential that along with our physical safety, we look after our mental well-being as well.” 

“One positive aspect of the whole situation is that we’re getting a chance to restart. Everyone is at home and has time to think about their lives and what they were doing. Priorities are being reset, and goals redefined. We’re learning what really matters.” The negative aspect is the lack of socialization and limited physical touch. “I have to think twice before I hug or kiss my daughter because I don’t want to harm her.”

She’s sure the scientific community is doing its best to find a solution, and most governments are showing full support.

 Noor Zaidi lives in Islamabad. She is a school teacher and owns an online bakery business by the name of ‘Oh Fudge.‘ (To know more, see https://cheflingtales.com/dine/islamabad/oh-fudge-an-inspiring-tale-for-would-be-home-bakers)

Corona, having resulted in countrywide closure of schools, and we are teaching from home now.” While we are being paid, I’m not sure what the situation is for the smaller and less established schools across the city.” Where baking is concerned, her orders have also taken a hit. People want to order but aren’t because of the current circumstances. Basically, not being able to go outside or to the market to window shop or hang out with friends can be very frustrating. One way it’s had a positive impact is that the environment has started to recover somewhat worldwide. Satellite images show decreased pollution in many countries across the globe. One negative effect would be that the earnings of daily wagers or let’s say, someone running a school canteen, have taken a massive hit. In Pakistan, we already have plenty of people under the poverty line. She thinks the impact on mental health is mixed.” It’s definitely given us time with our families and our thoughts, but I believe there is also a negative aspect. Fear of the unknown future. Not being able to plan things.”

 During the lockdown, she eats, watches movies/dramas, tries to get some little housework in, sits in the garden, walks, and bakes.

Dr. Muahammad Mazhar Iqbal is a Professor of Economics at Cust University and residing in Islamabad. His university is closed for the past month. Office timings are no more observed, but online classes are going on as well as meetings per schedule. There is a specific restriction on social activities. There are no prayers in the mosque, no morning walks and regular trips to the bazaar, and no meet up with friends and relatives.

“Everyone, especially teachers like me, can spend more time with family members and concentrate on research and pending work due to relaxation from regular classes. Also, I think that the link between the rich and deprived of society is strengthened.

He feels lonely and distressed, being away from university and colleagues. Coronavirus has affected mental health, both negatively and positively. Contrary because of the continuous news of increasing deaths due to Corona. It creates panic a state of fear is taking over. Positive because the idea of the Sovereignty and Oneness of Allah is strengthened. During the lockdown, he helps around in house chores and devotes more time to spiritually uplifting activities like attending spiritual talks online.

Muhammad Usman Aslam is an MS Student, studying in Fulda, Germany. He came to visit Pakistan during his semester break last March. Due to the unfortunate circumstances, he had to return on an emergency basis and cut his trip short via a specially arranged flight. He is a student of the Masters’s program studying abroad. 

Due to Corona the exams have postponed, and all the activities in the university suspended. The new semester is getting delayed. It has dramatically affected all his planned activities and tasks. Above all, it ruined his travel plans, and he ended up returning backway earlier than scheduled through some evacuation plan.

The positive impact is that due to lockdown, everyone is staying at a social distance, but perhaps it gave a chance to spend time with your family and interact far better as everyone is working from home. Parents have a lot of time for their children now to guide them and learn their routines. Contrary, as all industries are closed, and there is no much traffic ground and air, both so the pollution levels are decreasing significantly.

As no activity is going on, it’s becoming much more difficult for the conventional workers to earn for themselves; hence, they are forced to live hand to mouth due to this epidemic, especially the labor class.

The fear spread by this Corona has affected nearly everyone. They are becoming much more tensed as they cannot go outside and are forced to stay at home, yet they still fear they can be exposed to it. Their extra cautious attitude is making them more frustrated as they cannot be sure that they have done all the care.

Usman mostly stays at home except for groceries and other work of extreme importance. He is utilizing this time to learn more and more technologies and courses, which can be very helpful throughout his career as most of them are available without any charge.

“As it is an epidemic so I guess it will take some time and combine efforts from all around. The sooner we act together, the early we get over it.”

Yes, they are working very hard in close collaboration to overcome and find a cure. Already some tests have been carried out to evaluate the results to rule out this epidemic.

The US government is trying its best to fight against this epidemic by utilizing all available resources. 

CONCLUSION  

Even if not physically affected by the Coronavirus, people are slowly losing patience and sanity due to the lockdown. Many sit depressed and confused about theIR future, while others turn to some sort of activity to keep them occupied. The halt on social activities and routine does seem like a much-needed vacation at times, but it equally can be nerve-wracking.

Also, Read: How to protect elderly from COVID-19

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