Social Impact

Around the world SARS COV-2 has had an impact on all aspects of life:

Education

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected educational systems worldwide, leading to the localised or country-wide closure of schools and universities in almost 200 countries. Although some countries such as France and Australia have allowed the opening of schools, at the time of writing (5/7/20), the large majority of countries still have some or all schools, colleges and universities closed.

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Although this is was necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19, it has many consequences, such as:

  • Interruption of learning with students receiving a range of teaching from very little to a full digital timetable,

  • Cancellation of exams such as A levels and GCSEs in the UK.

  • Confusion and stress for teachers as they have to quickly adapt to new teaching methods and new technology.

  • Increase in malnutrition in children reliant on school meals,

  • Social isolation, especially for only children and those too young to properly socialise through technology,

  • An increase in inequality, as poorer families may not have adequate technology to take part in online learning, and this can create greater inequality in education.

Psychological Impact

The pandemic has been the source for anxiety of many people across the globe, especially older individuals, or those at high risk or living alone. It is expected that levels of levels of loneliness, depression, harmful alcohol and drug use, and self-harm or suicidal behaviour will rise. It is expected that closing schools could have an impact on the mental health of students as well, since the lack of social interaction may impact those suffering from depression or other illnesses.

Religion

The pandemic has caused the closure of mosques, churches, synagogues and other religious buildings and leaders of faith have been forced to find other, safe ways to reach out. Broadcasted services have taken place, with five million people tuning in to a service lead by the archbishop of Canterbury at a makeshift altar on his kitchen table on 22 March, broadcast on the BBC and Facebook.

 

The Church of England, which has seen a steep decline in churchgoing in recent decades, said it was the largest single “congregation” in its history. They have launched a 24-hour free phone line for Christian worship and prayer, aimed at people with no or limited access to the internet and offering “words of comfort and hope”, and more than 6,000 calls were made in the first 48 hours of operation.

 

Other faiths and denominations have seen similar trends; Anglicans, Pentecostals, Catholics, Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Hindus and others rapidly developed or expanded online prayers and services. There have been some issues with this, because many ultra-Orthodox, or Haredi, Jews have limited access to the internet, and use of technology is prohibited on Shabbat, the Jewish sabbath. Moreover, a minyan – a physical quorum of 10 males over the age of 13. This evidently caused some issues, however solutions have been found.

Joel Snitzer, the owner of a construction company and the father of 10 children, built a bimah, a raised platform from which the Torah is read, where his garden meets the garden backing it. He fetched the Torah scroll from his synagogue. The neighbours agreed on a daily act of worship at 9.45am, essentially creating an outdoor synagogue.

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Domestic Violence and Abuse

Isolation has increased the risk of domestic abuse, neglect, physical abuse, emotional abuse and sexual abuse, as it has made it much more difficult to avoid such issues by going to work or school for example. The levels of domestic abuse have risen. IN the UK the Metropolitan police said in April that they were making around 100 arrests a day for cases of domestic abuse and helplines and online services have seen an increase in callers and those seeking help.

Political Impact

The pandemic has seen some international relations strained and has affected political systems around the world. All continents apart from Antarctica have had some elections postponed due to fears of increasing the spread of the virus. Government power has been expanded as they look at ways to control the virus. Many countries have declared a state of emergency in response leading to fears over misuse of power. Contract tracing programs have lead to worries about the impact on privacy.

Charities

Lockdowns around the world have resulted in fundraising events being cancelled or scaled back hitting the finances of charities hard. In addition, staff absences and social distancing have also affected their services at a time where many are seeing an increase in demand.

Connectedness

There has been a rejuvenated sense of community and social cohesion during lockdown. In Italy people took to their balconies singing and playing their instruments, in the UK there was the Thursday night Clap for Carers when people went out onto the streets and showed their appreciation for the National Health Service.  Around the world there has been a huge wave of volunteering where people use their skills and abilities to help their neighbours and via the internet, others in general.

Scientists around the world have been working with each other and together with pharmaceutical companies in the race to develop treatments and a vaccine for Covid-19.