The 'New Normal': Surviving through COVID-19 Pandemic

Ms. Shalini Bhaumik

November 10, 2020, 12:38:36   

The term "New Normal" first appeared in 2008 to refer to the dramatic changes that followed during the 2008-2012 global recession and its aftermath, a term meaning a previously unfamiliar or atypical situation that has become standard, usual, or expected. It made its comeback this year amidst the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic to point out how this pandemic has shoved its hands into the depths of human lives and completely transformed the dynamics of the world functioning, and is here to stay even after the pandemic ceases to a miniature scale. Radicalization of traditional ways, birthing of new workplace interface, economic fragility- a microscopic virus has revolutionized the way of living. 
As the world is reopening and the infectivity rates fluctuate, adapting to this 'new normal' is the ultimate survival trick. As the year is ending, we are starting to see mitigation and restoration forces play out to calculate the loss and reduce the risks. 

Wearing masks, social & physical distancing, and handwashing have become the three fundamentals in this battle with COVID-19. 

The fight with COVID-19 has far reaching consequences for the healthcare and pointed out the lack of resources and investments in the healthcare sector. The Pandemic has thrown limelight on the low doctor-patient ratio in India and lack of sufficient health care providers. Recognizing that this virus is going to stay with us till we have an efficient and effective vaccine, Govt. needs to push their investments in health systems and emergency care especially in both high and low resource setting. Increasing efficiency in contact tracing, lab testing, and multi-sector collaboration to improve health services and reduce health inequity. 

"New Normal" in workplace:
The pandemic has huge implications on the professional identity and work dynamics. In a very short time organisations have been forced to make rapid introduction of technology and "tech driven" practices. "Work from home" has become pathognomonic of this year 2020. Remote working developed and deployed in just a matter of few months since the lockdown was announced. 

"New Normal" in Education:

Students from nursery to post graduates are now receiving education through rectangle screens i.e. phones or laptops. Classes are aired on televisions and exams held online. Very early into the pandemic, the entire education infrastructure collapsed and got built all over again through new memorandums of online classes. The setting of traditional classroom experience radicalized to remote education. In countries like India, rising poverty rates and lack of resources to avail online classes have impacted students mentally and built a lag phase. The "new normal" processed through remote education in forms of online classes and distance learning has its own share of cons. With the reducing number of cases, can we hope to be go back to the traditional classroom setting? Maybe yes, but with proper precautions like wearing masks & social distancing. Sharing lunches or playing together now seem like a distant memory. 

Implications on mental health?

Infectious pandemics is not only a medical emergency, but affects individuals and society multidimensionally. Uncertainty has become the cause of increased stress. Stigma, xenophobia, and panic- all mentally disruptive and able to push vulnerable individuals into deep mental turmoil. The 'new normal' needs emphasis on proper psychological support system. Social distancing should not emotionally distance us and make us unavailable to the needy ones. Focus should now be shifted on maintaining mental well being in these difficult times. 

Climate regeneration amidst Pandemic?

While we sat indoors to protect ourselves from the virus, the nature healed itself. Reappearance of the greens and wildlife should make us question ourselves and readdress the climate emergency. Global collaboration and remodelling urbanization to facilitate and achieve the 17 Substantial development goals set by WHO. 
The "new normal" is a concoction of maintaining self-precautionary measures and returning back to the hustle without compromising personal safety. Let's not emotionally distance ourselves while taking social distancing measures. We are in this together. 
New thinking will be required to adapt to the new normal life post COVID-19.


Ms. Shalini Bhaumik
Final Year Medical Student
Agartala Govt. Medical College
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