YourSpace: Silver linings on a dark pandemic cloud as Pune residents look at ‘new normal’ living
With the city under lockdown restrictions since March this year, daily activities have undergone the ‘new normal’ evolution. Readers share their positive experiences drawn from life under the shadow of Covid-19Updated: Sep 20, 2020, 16:41 IST
Jumbo facilities can be built in a month, not medical staff
We have realised that years of ignoring health infrastructure has led to the present situation of hospital bed shortage and inadequate medical facilities. The coronavirus situation has shown us our priorities, and that is definitely a major silver lining. We should have spent at least 6-5 per cent of our GDP (gross domestic product) as opposed to only 1-2 per cent which we’ve been spending all these years. The pandemic has exposed the health infrastructure which was on a ventilator all these years. Rural medical facilities should be boosted now because we have realised their importance. The pandemic taught us to invest in medical manpower and health infrastructure. We are now also talking about Indian Medical Service like the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and the Indian Police Service (IPS), which will be run by doctors who have administrative expertise. Disaster management is now looked at seriously. Hopefully, now more attention will be paid to opening more medical colleges and colleges for nurses and paramedics. The government and, most importantly, the people realised that although a jumbo facility can be made in less than a month, the experts cannot be created overnight to run those facilities. Officers who ran health departments now know the difference between an oxygen bed and a normal bed, and ICU with and without ventilators. Residents are questioning the administration for their health requirements which were not happening earlier. Sanitation workers and Asha workers who have worked tirelessly all these years are finally earning the respect they truly deserve. Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) workers, who are paid Rs 30 daily, were generally ignored for the work they do. The pandemic exposed the impartiality with respect to salaries. Sanitation workers are not respected as much as doctors and police personnel.
Dr Sanjay Patil
Opportunity to ramp up public transport
The silver lining right now appears to be that people are talking about using bicycles and enhancing public transport. It would be the real silver lining when it actually happens. The road fatalities and accidents have gone down drastically in this pandemic, but this is a temporary change until we take this conversation ahead. The reduced number of accidents shows that too many vehicles on the roads are the real reason of loss of lives among pedestrians and two-wheelers. The government must use this time to ramp up the public transport system. The reason why people hesitate to use public transport is that it is not reliable. If the civic body provides a reliable option, which is possible now, then people will definitely use public transport. A bus that makes six trips can make eight if traffic is less, thereby reducing congestion and crowded buses. It will also increase the income for the civic body. Reduced private vehicles mean no traffic, lesser accidents, lesser fatalities, less pollution and also boosting public transport which is currently on the verge of a permanent breakdown. People are also talking about using bicycles. Such conversations are a silver lining, and if they could become a reality in near future then nothing like it.
A boon for the environment
People have definitely started realising that if given a chance nature will always heal itself. A lot of industries, especially IT companies, have realised that work from home is a culture now which reduces congestion and traffic going in and out of IT hubs like Hinjewadi which was a major trouble for people living there. This also means reduced air pollution, sound pollution and dust pollution which has a direct impact on health. It looks like it will be a permanent change. As temporary good news, people will cut down on fuel consumption caused by unnecessary travelling, weekend and leisure outing in cars and bikes. Water pollution has gone down which was caused due to industries, but obviously this is a temporary change. Tree cutting for many projects, which are now looked at as “unnecessary”, has also saved the environment. Also, another interesting conversation that came out in this pandemic is the loneliness that animals in the zoo might face when they are under “lockdown” for the rest of their lives. Many people did pick up this conversation which was not being talked about earlier. It may not be a major change, but the conversation will likely drive to a change for these animals.
Focus on hygiene, a welcome change
The pandemic has shown us how personal hygiene is important. Simple things like washing your hands for 20 seconds or respiratory hygiene or even public hygiene and cleanliness was not considered important, but now everyone in the family is concerned about it. Whenever I go home from the office, my parents tell me to go straight to the bathroom and get a bath; even my bags and shoes are sanitised. While the fear may seem a bit paranoid, but the fact remains that in this situation only germ-phobic and introvert people are safe. Being extra cautious will only help instead of being careless. I know so many people who were least bothered about this and were later found to be infected. Small things like avoiding touching any surface in public places, be it lift buttons or even our own private vehicles which may have come in contact with so many people. Everyone is a suspected Covid-19 patient now and so personal hygiene is the only vaccine we have as of now.
Got some much-needed family time
Although I do miss playing with my friends without masks, I have realised that I get more time to play because I save time on travelling to school in the school bus. I also get to spend more time with my family. Even though they are working at home, I can go and talk to anyone anytime I want. I can discuss whatever I feel like which wasn’t possible earlier because my schedule was so tight-packed from school early morning to tuitions and homework. My mom is always at home even though she is working. We take a break every now and then to play some indoor games. I have learnt so many things during this time. I also looked at some old pictures of my mom’s childhood which we got when we cleaned the house together.