Keeping Up With the New Normal: Post COVID-19
In light of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the “new normal” is a term that has been trending for most of 2020 as cities around the world are getting ready to open up businesses again. Of course, this is not without caveats in place, especially since a COVID-19 vaccine isn’t ready yet. Even during the MCO, the government has been reminding us that we are no longer living in normal times and that we should adapt to the “new normal”. So what exactly is a “new normal”? How is it affecting us? And how long until we return to the “old normal”? We set out to find the answers to these questions in this article.
What is the “new normal”?
In the first place, the term “new normal” itself isn’t new. It has been used around the start of the 21st century following the global financial crisis of 2007–2008. In 2014, the president of China, Xi Jinping, used “new normal” to describe China’s economy which had slowed down from double digits to around 7% growth during that time. However, during those times, “new normal” has only been used largely in the business and economics sense. 2020 expanded on the definition of “new normal” to include changes in human interactions and behaviour in society, particularly related to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
How does the new normal affect everyone?
Because the new normal is introduced as a response to COVID-19, it involves many changes with the ultimate objective of minimising the spread of the disease. This includes limiting human physical contact, limitations on the number of people in a given premise, social distancing, and mask enforcement. Right now, even as the MCO in Malaysia has become the RMCO, a number of restrictions are still in place, such as maintaining a minimum distance of one meter between persons within the premises, more distancing between seats, and a mandatory temperature check alongside checking in with one’s details to facilitate government tracking in case there is an outbreak. Thanks to the efforts of the Malaysian government, the coronavirus infection levels are at minimal rates, and interstate travel is allowed again, but with all the above restrictions still applicable. The difference between the “old normal” and the “new normal” differs worldwide, as some countries like Japan already have a social habit of wearing surgical masks at times when one is down with the flu, and countries like South Korea and Sweden have not implemented a lockdown of any sort, placing the responsibility on their own citizens instead.
How long until we return to the “old normal”?
That is a very difficult question to give a definitive answer to. At the moment, clinical trials in people have only begun in the last three months, with scientists in India just receiving approval from the government in July. Most scientists have estimated that it would not be until mid-2021 that a viable vaccine can be made available. And even then, it would have set a record, since most vaccines take years to develop. When SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) was first discovered in 2002 to have been caused by a coronavirus, there has been no vaccine for it to this day, mostly because the outbreak had been contained by 2004. MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, a.k.a. Camel Flu), a similar health issue caused by a different type of coronavirus, was first discovered in 2012, with the latest outbreak having occurred in Saudi Arabia in 2018, yet still to this day, there is no MERS vaccine either. So until we have developed a vaccine for COVID-19, we can’t ever go back to the “old normal” without risking the lives of hundreds, if not thousands.
So that’s the new normal for us. How have you been adapting to it? At least now, we are able to go for holidays within Malaysia, so take this opportunity to explore all the different parts of Malaysia that you would never think of visiting in lieu of going to other countries. Where would you like to travel during the new normal? Let us know in the comments below!
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