A Post-Pandemic World: Social Impact of COVID-19

May 19, 2021

No matter where you live, the COVID-19 pandemic has, in one way or another, affected your life. Even the most remote locations on the planet were closed for tourism, or at the very least had the mask mandate enforced. The way people live, work, and socialize has changed completely, and the world has just begun recovering.

Where it all started

The COVID-19 disease is caused by a severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), which causes highly variable symptoms that can range from acute to life-threatening symptoms. The disease was first identified in Wuhan, China, in late 2019 and spread across the planet like wildfire. By January 2020, WHO announced a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) related to
the disease, and on 11 March 2020, declared a pandemic.
 
History has taught us how destructive pandemics can be; we’ve heard of the damage and devastation caused by the Black Plague and Spanish flu, but the modern world has yet to see a pandemic on the same scale as COVID-19.
 
When the virus first broke out, it was commonly compared to the H1N1 virus (swine flu) and to the SARS epidemic (SARS-CoV-1). Neither of the viruses leads to the tragic, unprecedented circumstances that COVID-19 did on a global scale.

Children and Education

The pandemic caused significant psychological distress to the global population – researchers have suggested that the mental well-being of most social groups, even those less susceptible to the virus, deteriorated due to the pandemic. The groups most likely to have suffered from depression due to the repercussions of the pandemic have been children and college students.
 
Studies have shown that psychological effects are not limited to the fear of contracting the virus. In fact, the younger generation, especially children, have been most affected by the loss of their daily schedule and inability to socialize with their peers. A recent survey conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic concluded that many children had developed symptoms of GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) during
lockdown. Children were found to be more irritable, restless and found it harder to focus.
 
One of the main reasons children’s mental well-being suffered was due to the fact that they were unable to go to school. According to data released by UNESCO, schools, colleges, and universities closed in over 185 countries. 1.5 billion students were affected; this is approximately 87% of learners across the globe.

Healthcare and Frontline Workers

Healthcare perhaps suffered the most from the ramifications of the pandemic. Patient care suffered tremendously during the pandemic. Healthcare workers were under tremendous stress, enduring increased workload, and lack of personal protection equipment (PPE).
 
The pandemic certainly highlighted the cracks in the global healthcare system. Hospitals lacked biosafety equipment and infection control systems. Nurses and doctors faced abuse and racism from patients and were overworked tremendously. In addition to this, the fear of getting infected or infecting their families with an unknown virus lead the mental health of many frontline workers to deteriorate.

Hypochondria

Hypochondria is a mental health condition that involves having obsessive and irrational fears about a disease or medical issue. During the pandemic, public health agencies continuously reiterated the importance of protecting yourself from germs and viruses. In addition to this, quarantining was encouraged and eventually enforced by numerous governments around the world.
 
People whose anxiety was already triggered by fear of diseases and germs developed even further phobias. Over-sanitizing, avoiding any kind of social interaction, and allowing recurring fears to stop you from your daily activities are perhaps the main signs of hypochondria.
 
Studies have concluded that hypochondria and germaphobia increased on a global scale. Coronaphobia is the byproduct of the pandemic and hypochondria, has spread around the world just as fast as the virus itself.

Crime

Surprisingly, the pandemic reduced crime around the world. Police departments intentionally arrested fewer people in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in jails; instead, they implemented alternative punishments. Drug arrests around the world fell by almost 50%, primarily due to quarantines and lockdowns, which prevented physical sales from taking place.
 
On the other hand, many countries imposed fines on people who broke COVID-19 related decrees. Limiting civil rights created significant opposition and caused people to protest. Strikes were related to different issues: inability to pay rent, unsafe working conditions, the unfairness and illogicality behind the decrees, and more.
 
Stay tuned for part 2 of the social impacts on the world following COVID-19…