05 May 2023. The World Health Organization notifies the end of the latest “Public Health Emergency of International Concern” (PHEIC) , that we, the common people, have been referring to as the COVID pandemic over the past three years since the first lockdown in March 2020 (did you just shudder?).
Everything has changed, and yet nothing has changed, we still are the same, maybe a wee bit wiser, yet as prone to believing all kinds of inane things , given the deluge of disinformation which social media floods us with daily.
From mid March 2020, when the world was literally ‘locked in’, the intervening days interminably stretched to weeks to months. Collectively, as time passes by, most of us will barely remember those days, as we would prefer to blank them out. For those who lost loved ones, the stark reminder of the ‘pandemic era’, a once in a lifetime, cataclysmic event will always be there in our minds and our hearts.
In simple language, what a declaration by WHO, of the end of a PHEIC does mean, and what it does not mean is intended to be conveyed through this post. Having dabbled in academia, and having also been an advisor at population policy level, I understand that it would be easy to spew forth screens full of technical words, yet, what remains, is simply, what should one do, in real life! That remains the fundamental concern for all of us, I am sure.
First , let us examine what does ‘an end to a PHEIC‘ actually mean to Public Health folks,
- Infection with COVID-19 in the present times, is no longer unusual and nor is it unexpected.
- Cross-border transmission cannot be stopped, i,e just like any other infection, we cannot contain COVID-19 infection to any one house, building, village, city, state, region, country.
- COVID-19 no longer requires an exclusively focused, coordinated international response, and can be clubbed with other similar infections.
What an ‘end of PHEIC’ declaration does not mean
It does not mean the end of the COVID pandemic. “Pandemic” is an epidemiological definition that indicates the widespread occurrence of any particular infectious disease , worldwide in a particular timeframe. A PHEIC is just a phase of the pandemic evolution process. First declare the end of a PHEIC, and then forget about the pandemic slowly as it ‘normalizes’ in our lives
This does not mean that COVID-19 has gone anywhere. There will be future waves, however it is hoped that with increasing population-level immunity from vaccines and exposure to infections, that these waves will be just like ripples in a pond. And , as a reality check, COVID-19 is a leading cause of death in many countries in the developed world, and is likely to remain so, for years.
This does not mean that we can go back to pre-pandemic times and let our guard down. We also need to collectively ‘wake up’ and demand of our leadership, a healthcare system that is accessible, proactive and responsive, and we need to participate in this process. We need to realise that we cannot just sit back and wait for someone else to take charge of our health. We should not keep on living in a vicious cycle of apathy, crisis driven panic and neglect.
In an ideal world, going with the ‘new normal’ in May 2023…….
- I would avoid crowded places with poor ventilation, such as public transport.
- While preferring to greet everyone with folded hands (Namaskar), I would only shake hands with those I like and respect, if they would want to shake hands with me. And then after shaking hands, I would ensure that I would not touch my nose or eyes or mouth, without having first washed my hands.
- I would not be obsessed with washing hands or using sanitizers. I would instead, focus on not touching my eyes, nose or mouth through the day, unless my hands were washed beforehand.
- When touching high contact common surfaces such as the toilet flush, door handles or lift buttons, I would use my knuckles to press buttons or push surfaces. I would wash my hands before eating or drinking and before touching my eyes, nose or mouth.
- When travelling by air, I would prefer to choose the Aisle seat if possible.
- When indoors with others, I would pay attention to ventilation and air circulation. I would not switch off the AC if I am feeling cold. Instead I would keep the blower on, and figure something out for air changes and air circulation in the room. Wherever possible I will keep the windows open for ventilation.
- I would choose to exercise in some form or the other, on most, if not all days of the week, for at least 30 minutes. I would choose to eat wisely, and make healthy food choices. I would eat in moderation, I would drink less and enjoy more. I would not consume any form of tobacco at all. I would meditate and do deep breathing exercises daily. I would be grateful for life, every day.
We have survived the onslaught of a pandemic virus. Let us celebrate our resilience, and not dwell too much on what could have been, unless it is to learn from our mistakes.
Rather, as responsible citizens, lets work on what should be. Let us take the first step by voicing out our concerns and focus on our requirements and address these to the appropriate authorities wherever we are. (Social media does give easy access to policy makers!) Be a part of the solution, and not a part of the problem.
The end of this once in our lifetime (hopefully) global emergency should be the beginning of preparedness, at the individual, community and national levels. As the ad campaign goes, Jaago Graahak Jaago.
Please connect with me at firstname.lastname@example.org for bespoke (non generic) health and wellness advice for senior management / leadership at your company.
Before you close this page , you might want to have a quick look at this earlier post, where I had ruminated about the ‘end’. And had given simple , practical suggestions on what we could do , in our personal life, to keep ourselves safe from infectious diseases such as ‘COVID’. https://deltazuluconsultancy.com/2022/02/20/is-it-over-is-this-the-end/
2 thoughts on “End of the Pandemic?”
Intersting reading and informative
Need of the hour is more and simple explanation and what steps an individual must take to keep COVID at bay.
very lucid and urgent too…