OPINION: It Is Not All Bad: Looking at the Upside of COVID-19
AKP Phnom Penh, December 08, 2020 --
We are accustomed to thinking about the negative impacts of Covid-19, our lives may depend on being aware of them. Yes, the disease has killed more than 1.54 million out of the global cases of more than 67.3 million in more than 200 countries and territories, but have there also been positive impacts, too.
Here are some experiences I can share about my own life and my family of four as we go through this difficult time, facing economic hardship, from which we have learned much. I hope some people may share a little of mine.
Today, I comply with the health experts’ instructions, among other measures, on how to protect against, and prevent the spread of the virus. I have learned how to adapt myself to the surrounding environment, since you can’t change it, and live with it. It is called “new normalcy”.
I am happy—so are my two daughters, to see the blue, clear sky when I go out to jog at the public park at the weekend. I never saw that before. It is probably so for the first time in many years that air pollution has not filled the sky, due to how the virus hit the aviation industry.
Information Technology, Listen to BBC radio
My daughters, 21 & 10, have learned more about how to deal with technologies such as Zoom, to study online from home, when their schools asked for temporary closure. They do more research online rather than go to libraries.
It is not my family alone that deals with technology for its own business but others, even regional and global leaders these days, hold meeting via video conferences. Such moves also save our investment in time and money, among others. At the same time, we learned more how to deal with Information Technology, IT.
I now listen to radios more rather picking up newspapers or magazines, as I always enjoyed reading hard copies before the arrival of Coronavirus. Now I have turned away from most of those hard copies from shop and street since I worry that they could be the bridge to pass on to me the Coronavirus. The BBC is one of my most favorite reads these days.
My family sometimes exchanges views at the dining table on the spread of the virus and what should we do to prevent it. Every of us have to put our face mask on and put a small bottle of hand sanitizer in our pocket when we go out for shopping. Social distancing is also part of our daily behaviour when outdoors. Such actions help keep us, and those around us, safe.
God helps those who help themselves
We do what we can. God helps those who help themselves. We start to eat healthier foods rather junk ones and my wife plays a key role in that by preparing meals. We stopped drinking cold, taking only hot ones.
I use electronic tools, such as a laptop and smart phone, to work online instead of coming to the office, respecting the government guidelines to prevent and contain the spread of the virus. Such moves are part of the e-government, another good thing, indeed, increasing the efficiency of government service to the people.
On the other hand, when it is necessary to do so, I enjoy commuting by bicycle to work without fighting busy traffic. I enjoy quiet roads and streets in Phnom Penh as the people are indoors due to Covid-19. Slow traffic is also good news that not many traffic accidents are reported, and with less pollution the air is healthier.
COVID-19 has awoken the people to pay greater attention on keep thing clean as part of measures to keep way other viruses, including Coronavirus. People are seen put their face masks on as they come out of the house. That is another good thing that they can also prevent other viruses apart from Coronavirus.
I observed that people in general understand that the virus is a global challenge requiring global efforts to tackle. As such, I saw some wealthy Cambodians and others join hands with the Royal Government of Cambodia by donating their money to support the fight against Covid-19.
It is one reason that Cambodia has no reported deaths among 350 people infected with Covid-19, of whom 307 have recovered so far.
Some countries provided assistance of medical kits to other nations to fight Covid-19. Such actions are good examples that we are living in the interconnected world and that helping one another should be done since we can’t stand by and watch others being killed by the disease.
Solidarity and kindness
Another great example in Cambodia is that just within hours after they heard Prime Minister Hun Sen instruct concerned institutions to allocate budget to procure vaccines for free injections for its people, more than US$30 million, as of the morning of Dec. 8, 2020, was donated by Cambodian tycoons: Bankers, real estate executives, telecoms industry businessmen, and leaders, others.
Such a response from Cambodia’s wealthy people showed solidarity and kindness to support the government’s mechanism to fight COVID-19. An important step because we still do not know how expensive such medical products will be and how it will work.
The world needs to do business together in many forms, from diplomacy to trade, investment, tourism, and in other ways, for mutual interest. So, if your trading partners have problems it also hurts you.
Nobody wanted Covid-19 to hit the world but we can’t change. We have learned to live with it and find ways to combat the virus while scientists worked to discover new vaccines that we hope will prevent the spread of Coronavirus and bring the pandemic to an end.
The impact of Covid-19 is so huge on the global scale, in terms of economic, trade, investment, even politics. We need a greater global effort for all.
However, when the Covid-19 pandemic is over it does not mean the world will be free of viruses in the future. Given the fact that we had bird flu, SARS, MERS, Swine fever in the past, we can expect there will be another virus in the years to come. We will get through it, live with it, and find ways to fight it for our survival as human beings.
As Cambodia, we survived the Cold War, the Killing Fields in the ‘70s, and the hardship of the ‘80s, we must survive for billions of years to come. We, the people must stand together and join hands with the government, along with support from Cambodia’s development partners and stakeholders. This will enable us to overcome this difficult time and move forward together for the greater development of Cambodia as well as contributing to global peace and prosperity.
By Ek Tha
Spokesman of the Council of Ministers, Standing-Vice Chairman of the Royal Government Spokesperson Unit,
Advisor to the Ministry of Information