The widespread concern, panic, stress, and uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 outbreak coupled with the measures taken to curb it’s spread seem to have created breathing grounds for several other pandemics. Several other pandemics are largely unattended. As a global community, we will have to consider measures to deal with several other pandemics that are now developing the potential to become as serious as COVID-19 itself.
Domestic Abuse Pandemic
The regulations to control the spread of COVID-19 are clearly very conducive for domestic abuse. The confinement of people to their homes means abusive partners or housemates have more time and opportunity to harm those they live with. But worse than this is the difficulty there is in reporting such cases to authority or even dealing with it. Most times, domestic abuse goes unnoticed until a keen observer takes a closer look and is interested in the victim’s appearance and countenance. And with lesser people or even no other person getting to see victims, because of lockdown, the probability of uncovering the wickedness of domestic abuse is almost down to zero. Although experts agree that government officials should have anticipated this pandemic, dealing with it alongside COVID-19 is not as easy as anticipating it.
Earlier this year, the United Nation’s Secretary General, Antonio Guterres urged governments to put women’s safety first as they respond to COVID-19. In an interview on French television late march this year, French interior minister, Christophe Castaner revealed growing concern as domestic violence went up about 30% in France. In the same interview, he assured that law enforcement officers were on the alert for cases of domestic violence. But France is certainly not the only country experiencing an increase in domestic violence. The numbers are going up globally and the need to take preventive measures is urgent.
Racial Abuse Pandemic
Another pandemic – Racial abuse pandemic – is a terrible social effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. But it’s not just random racial abuse. There have been coordinated and spontaneous attacks against Asians globally this year. Confirming this pandemic, Asian Advocacy Director, John Sifton said “Racism and physical attacks on Asians and people of Asian descent have spread with the Covid-19 pandemic, and government leaders need to act decisively to address the trend”.
These attacks, which range from hate speech and derogatory language on the internet to actual violence on the streets are possibly a result of the fact that COVID-19 originated from Asia, precisely Wuhan, China. While ordinary people have a part in spreading this pandemic, government leaders too have part of the blame to take. Donald Trump for example, called it “Chinese Virus” while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo referred to COVID-19 as the “Wuhan Virus”. The united nations and national leaders are calling for an end to the racial hate, but the damage already done may in many ways be irreparable.
Substance Abuse Pandemic
Addicts are affected in several ways during COVID 19. More stringent measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 have raised concerns about the effects these measures have on addicts. While experts expected an increase in alcohol and drug abuse, not enough measures were taken to deal with the possible surge in substance abuse and other related issues during COVID-19. According to reports from the United Nations Office on drugs and Crime (UNODC), more than 35 million people suffer from drug abuse worldwide. The less privileged are most affected as substance abuse becomes a means of escaping the worldwide economic depression during this period.
On the other hand, there are genuine concerns about the effects of sudden withdrawal as borders close, making it more expensive and difficult to stay on certain drugs. The effects of substance abuse, from mental conditions, weakened immune system to social crime are issues nations and governments will have to deal with in the wake of COVID-19.
Pandemic of Fear
When COVID-19 first broke out, there wasn’t so much to fear. The effects were not glaring and much of the world was yet unaffected. But as reports confirmed cases in several countries across the globe and nations shut their borders, the socio-economic implications set in. Reports on death tolls spread fast and many became concerned about themselves and their families in distant lands. Besides information that the virus was airborne gave people even more reasons to fear. Propaganda on the internet also made things look worse than they really were.
The fear ranges from concerns about being infected, fear of economic or financial incapacitation, fear of COVID related xenophobia amongst others.
COVID-19, because of the destruction it has already caused in terms of human life is certainly something to invest money and effort to fight against. But the “war” against the virus makes us vulnerable to other life-threatening issues so we must fight on multiple fronts.