Since I am a UK writer, these affects will mainly be based on what happened in the UK!
Let’s start at the beginning-
Between December and March, a pandemic named Coronavirus began taking over the world, slowing down businesses and killing thousands in its wake. Over time, things became much, much worse.
Let’s take a look at Coronavirus and its effects on the world.
When Coronavirus arrived, the government created new rules. They stated that you must wear a mask, sanitize and wash your hands and social distance from others. Those who were vulnerable were sent letters from the government telling them to isolate. Companies that created masks, hand wash and soaps and hand sanitizers were much more financially stable than before, as more and more people were buying their products. This also means that these companies had to work twice as hard to make sure that their products were getting out into the world for those who needed them.
On the 16th of March in the UK, the government decided to put the UK on lockdown, including shutting down the borders, halting most public transport and cancelling everyone’s plans for the year. They also shut down schools and non-essential businesses, meaning people had to learn or work from home. This had social, mental and financial and even physical consequences.
Those who had to learn or work from home began missing out on vital interactions with other people, which took a massive toll on people’s mental health, including young children who couldn’t play with their school friends and older students studying for exams. Those who had to give up work due to health problems found life much more challenging and had to sign onto Universal Credit to receive benefits in order to survive through the pandemic. This affected those working for Universal Credit as they faced trying to support everybody who required benefits.
Many shops, especially small businesses, began closing. This also caused people to lose their jobs and face financial difficulties as well as struggles of finding another job due to no new jobs being posted because of the virus. Many people felt upset at their favourite places shutting for good and bosses and managers of these places also had the challenge of figuring out what to do next.
On the topic of closing, hairdressers also closed which brought on the whole saga of ‘Lockdown haircuts’, some not turning out quite as good as others.
Students who were currently studying for exams were faced with uncertainly and even frustration due to the government closing the schools, then opening them again and then continuing that cycle. This caused stress among students and even though they were okay with not going to school during a pandemic, they still faced concern over how they would complete their coursework and exams.
Relating to homeschooling, parents faced the stress of balancing work and taking care of their children, and many parents lost their jobs due to not being able to efficiently balance their new routine.
With homeschooling, parents had the added stress of figuring out how to help their children not just with their homework, but with entertaining them as well as making sure that they were getting exercise. This is where some parents became creative.
Some parents began building obstacle courses in their gardens for their children to complete, which gave the children exercise and a sense of accomplishment and a distraction from the issues in the world.
Other parents taught their kids how to bake cakes, how to garden and other various activities.
Poorer parents struggled to afford meals for their children, and so schools and food banks offered to continue providing meals for children and delivering them. Joining them, large supermarkets such as ASDA and Tescos began offering cheap meals for parents and kids in their cafes and other supermarkets such as Sainsbury’s also helped by donating extra food to food banks and to those struggling. Working alongside this, kind people volunteered in also delivering food parcels to people.
Lockdown also prevented people from celebrating events such as their birthdays and so the internet stepped up, finding ways to celebrate random stranger’s birthdays. Kids who couldn’t have their regular birthday parties were surprised but excited when random strangers from their neighbourhood drove past their houses with balloons and signs stating ‘Happy Birthday’ on them. This was a silver lining to the Coronavirus. People came together, even for strangers, and this was also proven when people couldn’t see their friends, their family and even their partners. People supported them, in real life and online, and provided them with comfort and love.
Not being able to see our loved ones has had a huge toll on us mentally, and for a lot of us, we will never see certain loved ones again, and that is what Coronavirus has taken from us. Losing loved ones is hard enough, but during a pandemic especially without any support has made things ten times more difficult. To add to this, funerals were also cancelled and those that weren’t cancelled, there was a limit of 15 people or less to attend, meaning some people had to miss out on the funeral. Weddings were also cancelled, or there was also a limit of people who could go, meaning people also missed out on good events.
In 2020, 3 million people died from the Coronavirus and in 2021 people still continue dying. This has put a strain on a variety of people. Their loved ones, and essential workers who have worked hard to try and keep them alive. The high number of deaths has also strained funeral workers who have been overloaded with paperwork for coffins, burials and etc. The pandemic also quickly tore through care homes, killing hundreds of vulnerable elderly people and even those who worked at the care homes.
Those making situations worse were those who refused to follow lockdown rules and continued on with their parties. The government worked with the police to break up these parties and issue fines of up to £1,000 pounds or more for those breaking the rules.
Misinformation spread around about the deadly virus. An example of this is that people were stating that young and healthy people could simply not become sick from this virus as this virus only affected those who were unwell. However, this was disproven when healthy and young people began catching it and dying. However, that did not stop younger people from believing that they were safe and continuing on with their fun lifestyles. Even ‘Influencers’ bragged about their parties on social media which stirred up upset and anger in people.
Other pieces of information were exclaimed by people, stating that more people died from the bubonic plague and from things such as heart disease every year, so the Coronavirus was not as deadly and was simply not that big of a deal. This caused upset between many people.
While it was a fact that more people had died from things such as heart disease, car accidents etc, there were a few issues with making this point.
First of all, car accidents and heart disease do not spread, hence why so many more people were panicking when this new virus came to town. This, and the fact that there was currently no treatment or cure for the virus.
Second of all, even though more people have died from these things, that should not disregard the people who have lost their lives to this deadly virus. They are not just statistics, they are people who have families, friends and partners and should not just be considered a less-numbered statistic.
Other selfish people involved those who at the start of the pandemic, began stocking up on handfuls of hand sanitisers, masks, food products and toilet rolls, meaning people including the elderly and essential workers couldn’t get what they needed, which took a mental toll of them. One essential worker posted a video of her crying in her car, exclaiming that people were so selfish and that she had a long, exhausting day at work only to arrive at a supermarket and see that the shelves were empty.
Shops began rolling out new rules. People were now only able to take so much of a certain product, such as two hand sanitisers, one or two packs of toilet rolls and a limited amount of canned food and other items. Another rule was to allow the elderly and essential workers in first so they could get what they needed. Some people who were stocking up were also fined for their greed and inconsideration.
During this, some of those who were hoarding items were selling them for twice their price, including hand sanitisers, masks and toilet roll.
With the spread and panic of Coronavirus, shop workers faced double the exhaustion and double the assault. People took their anger and frustration out on them, especially if certain products were not in store. Shop workers also had to deal with those who were refusing to wear masks. The NHS faced more pressure than ever, searching desperately for beds to fit people into and trying to deal with the high number of deaths, as well as finding ways to rehabilitate those who were recovering from the Coronavirus.
‘We support our essential workers!’ became a huge message for the UK and at 6pm every Thursday, people would go outside their homes and clap for the NHS and other essential workers to show their support.
Essential workers worked tirelessly and risked their lives to support everybody they could, and thousands losing their lives in the process. They will always be remembered for their courage.
Scams also came about during this time. Thousands were receiving scam phone calls asking them if they would like compensation for having Coronavirus. Other scams involved people physically turning up to people’s homes and asking them if they would like to buy items from them. The elderly were the main victims in this.
Before tests and vaccines were completely created and ready to dish out, another scam came around with people arriving at other’s homes and telling them that they were from the NHS and that they would be able to provide a test or a vaccine right there and then. Unfortunately, some fell victim to this and became seriously unwell, some even ending up in hospital. The NHS sent out messages to millions of people explaining that they would never arrive at someone’s home and that any vaccines would be given in a clinic by professionals.
Lockdown brought on other problems too.
The rates of domestic abuse and child abuse were raised. Abusers had more control than ever and were able to keep their victims locked inside and away from people, using lockdown to their advantage.
Suicides were also higher due to depression and other mental health problems that were affected by loneliness, isolation and uncertainly. People with mental health problems felt hopeless and had thoughts that nothing would change for the better. The pandemic even heightened drinking rates due to more people buying alcohol from stores. This affected alcoholics and even created new ones, a pandemic in itself.
Those with OCD, health anxiety and physical health conditions were also affected, afraid of catching the virus for various reasons. For those with OCD and health anxiety, they feared the virus due to their debilitating fear of germs and becoming sick with an illness. For those with physical health problems such as COPD, they feared catching the virus as they were more vulnerable than healthy people and were at a higher risk of dying if they caught it.
Other issues arose during lockdown, people buying pets such as dogs in order for them to go outside and walk them, only to abandon them when they didn’t need them anymore. This put pressure on animal shelters to try and take in all the abandoned animals and find them good homes before time ran out.
In lockdown, people found ways to entertain themselves, which brought on a small silver lining. People began rapidly buying consoles such as the Nintendo switch and began playing multiplayer games such as Animal Crossing to pass the time and engage with people virtually as they couldn’t hang out in real life. People also completed things that they’d been meaning to complete a while ago such as completing novels and art pieces. Other people learned new hobbies and skills such as gardening and knitting.
People also kept fit while in lockdown, finding creative ways to exercise as gyms had also closed.
Zoom calls helped out with this, groups of people coming together to exercise with each other virtually. Zoom calls also helped teachers to provide their students with online lessons, much to the dismay of some students.
There was another positive to lockdown which was shown all around the world.
The air became less polluted, the sun appeared more and more animals began coming out of hiding due to the fresh clean air and cleaner waters. This proved that without the pollution from cars and other sources, the world is much more breathable.
Adding the last point, TV programmes were cancelled and programmes such as soaps only had so many episodes that they could release, meaning that instead of the five episodes a week, episodes were reduced down to just two or three episodes a week, much to the annoyance of many people who loved their soaps and other programmes. When these programmes began filming again, we seen a ‘new normal’. Actors were social distances and wearing masks during filming and even mentioning the virus during episodes. Despite the Coronavirus being very real, it was strange to see fictional characters discussing it.
With tests being created and vaccines rolling out among other safety measures such as social distancing and masks, all we can do is support those who have been affected by the virus, including those who are currently suffering with COVID symptoms, and keep our hope that our future will become much brighter and more safer in the end.