2020 was a year that changed humanity forever. A virus that suddenly erupted and flamed through continents in a matter of days was introduced. It claimed the lives of millions of individuals. Almost four million humans are not with us today due to complications related to the disease. Many of us have lost a person that we know during the pandemic. Those losses could be a friend, a relative, a spouse or a partner. The sad reality is that the virus took lives uncontrollably.
Additionally worrying is the myriad of people that lost their means of making an income. Living through a pandemic without employment can be devastating. Unemployment is significantly amplified if you live in a country that does not provide adequate social support systems. Some estimates claimed that about 114 million individuals worldwide lost their jobs in 2020.
Labour markets have endured difficulties with lost employment. Not only were jobs lost, but the hours that each employee works were reduced. Reduced hours are prevalent, particularly in regions where incentives are not offered to business owners. Given the current situation, it would be financially unsustainable for enterprises to maintain the same employment rates without additional support from different governmental or support agencies. According to reports, in regions within the Asian-Pacific, women and youth were most impacted by the reduced working hours and job loss. Amplification of women’s job loss was echoed worldwide, as data showed them to be 1.8 times more likely to lose their jobs. Such statistics could be imbued to existing occurrences within the system, precisely due to an overrepresentation of women in low-paying jobs.
While considering differences in populations, it is also essential to observe how different countries approached modified working environments. In developed countries, many individuals have started working from home. They still do the same job, get paid the same paycheque and have the exact expectations. However, this is not always applicable worldwide. For instance, in less-wealthy countries, the popularity of remote employment currently does not soar in the same manner of developed nations. According to reports, only 1 in 26 jobs can be changed to be done from homes in less wealthy countries. The question is, what happens to the other 25 jobs? What are the options that employees face?
Moreover, are those 25 jobs’ actual jobs’? Or may they be completed in a non-formal way: could it be causal work that is not considered ‘employment’ In developing countries, some individuals are self-employed, and they perform jobs where they are not paid a salary. Communities may have primarily thrived on tourists that travel into their country. With global restrictions, the pandemic negatively impacted the tourism industry – including airlines and hotel chain employees.
Lockdowns have been implemented worldwide, and less wealthy countries have had their fair share of them. However, data shows that lockdowns in those areas are exponentially more worrying than in other places globally. For instance, when lockdowns were imposed in developing countries, many citizens could not provide for their families. As a result, many gathered in masses to seek aid, while others died from malnutrition. Such gatherings have also been counter-productive in terms of containing the virus because of social contact.
On the other hand, when restrictions are eased, a massive challenge is also faced. Some developing countries have decided to ease restrictions in favour of economic revitalization. In such cases, decisions are evaluated in terms of lives and financial hardships. Overfilled hospitals, confronted by thousands of patients, cannot provide adequate care. The decision is not an easy one to make. Governments cannot simply leave people without a sufficient means of putting food on their table, while they also cannot allow massive gatherings that can fuel the virus’ spread and place everyone’s lives in grave danger.
This pandemic raises many questions and teaches us many lessons. It is still not over, so one cannot simply expect how it will end. However, one thing highlighted in those two years is the lack of equity between nations and people within one country. If people do not have the same lives, we should reconsider how regulations are introduced or imposed. Equinimity is challenging to accomplish when the pandemic is underway and has already spread out of control. In the long run, it would be essential to consider how we can better prepare for something like this if it happens again.
What would be the best thing to do? Could it be imposing border closures worldwide? Or continuing to impose the same measures?
Regardless of the best thing to do, we now understand how to deal with such occurrences. Besides assessing how we can react to a similar pandemic, we can also look at the root cause of the issue and prevent similar events from happening.
Scientists are currently investigating the origins of the disease. The other important measure that governments must take into account is more collaboration between nations. If the globe decided to take a team rather than a competitive approach to the pandemic, we could certainly benefit.
The world economy in our current times is interconnected. It is unreasonable to assume that a country can be self-sufficient in every manner. Wealthier nations rely on less affluent nations in supply chain logistics for various industries. Having a portion of the globe suffer is unethical and inhumane, and economically not viable.