By Mike D Canavan.
Welcome to the second instalment of our hopefully, thought-provoking consideration as to what the World might be like post Covid-19.
Without a doubt thing will certainly have changed. You cannot force a country into lockdowns, isolations, cancelations, strictly enforced social distancing, a plethora of mixed messages and such without there being significant consequences well into the future.
What might these consequences be? Who will be the most affected? What is our government’s plan moving forward?
It certainly strikes me, that we cannot be so risk averse that we just keep doing what we are currently doing, because I fear that in itself it will carry greater risks. We risk creating an environment that propagates a dysfunctional society. If we solely focus on eliminating the Covid-19 virus we run the risk creating an environment where people will die from other things, in greater numbers.
I note at the time of writing this article there have been demonstrations in certain American states including; Texas, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Virginia, all demanding lockdown laws be eased. One has to wonder how long it will be until we see the same here.
What the restrictions have done ⎼ and area’s that must be addressed moving forward.
Mental health is an area of grave concern. Our government needs to immediately focus on providing hope to the community at large. It’s all very well and good to lock down the community on the understanding that it is saving lives. However, is just as important to provide a vision for the future, something people can hold onto and embrace moving forward.
The economic crisis may not cause as many deaths as COVID-19, but the high rates of unemployment, poverty and homelessness will all cause the suicide risk to surge. And indeed, suicides tend to go up during periods of great economic downturn. The suicide rate rose to a record high of 21.9 per 100,000 people in 1932, in the depth of the Great Depression.
So, while global attention is largely focusing on the active physical treatment of patients, suicide populations in the society, now more vulnerable than ever, are being overlooked. What can be done? The government as well as the health care sector both have urgent and vital roles to play.
We should immediately establish mental health initiatives focusing on educating the public and health care workers on how to best deal with the immense pressure and anxiety these policies have had on the community at large ⎼ this may help minimise the psychosocial toll in these times of crisis. We should also implement targeted mental health surveillance of populations at risk, including patients with prior mental health diagnosis and the elderly, followed by effective interventions to minimise suicidal ideation. And we should proactively establish mental health programs specifically designed for the aftermath of this pandemic. The psychosocial needs of those affected will be unique and interventions for mental rehabilitation should be designed us such. Treatment should be crisis oriented and must be undertaken now before it is too late.
Without question, new developments in social engineering technology are being rolled out at breakneck speeds; it is the thin end of the wedge when it comes to tracking, scrutinising and controlling populations at large. It may, in these panicked times seem like a good idea, but the implications are terrifying, placing even greater power into the hands of tech giants and governments alike. With these facilities, you can forget about any form of privacy or civil rights – when deemed in the nation’s interest. In part one of this series we touched on this very matter.
It’s not just overseas, it’s right here in our own backyard that a similar evil is being proposed. As late as Friday our Prime Minister went on Radio Triple M Hobart’s morning show, and alarm bells rang loudly.
When he refused to “be drawn” into commenting on whether the Government would consider making its planned contact tracing app “compulsory” if voluntary take-up fell short. He said: “For this to work, we need a lot of people to download this app,” he said.
“Now, in Australia, my preference – my very strong preference – is that we do it this way, with Australians [downloading] it by permission.
“If we get good coverage of people doing that, this is really going to help.”
Morrison said that Australia would need “at least double” the reported 20 percent voluntary take-up rate of the ‘TraceTogether’ app in Singapore.
Asked whether the Government would make the app mandatory, requiring Australians to have it active and on their person at all times, Morrison went on to say: “My preference is not to do that. My preference is to give Australians a go at getting it right.”
Pressed again on whether mandatory measures would be considered, Morrison responded: “Oh look, I don’t want to be drawn on that.”
“I want to give Australians the opportunity to get it right. That’s my objective, that’s my plan A, and I really want Plan A to work.
“I’ll be calling on Australians to do it frankly as a matter of national service. In the same way people used to buy war bonds back in the war times, to come together to support the effort.” I must say that the corollary he has drawn is somewhat lost on me.
“I know this would be something they mightn’t normally do at an ordinary time, but this is not an ordinary time, and if you download this app, you’ll be helping save someone else’s life. I think Australians will respond to that.”
Morrison also said a high use of the app would likely lead to a loosening of current restrictions.
“Here’s the simple deal – if people download the app, and more people have got it, the more soon we can start easing off on some of these restrictions,” Morrison said. Read ⎼ if they don’t, we won’t ease restrictions. Might this be a simple case of blackmail or is it just a blatant open threat.
A National Crisis of the Governments making is being used as the thin end of the wedge to further control its citizens. Do not be under any illusion, George Orwell’s “1984” is here ⎼ right now.
The very essence of religion, the cornerstone of our community, is under threat.
One aspect of life that has been badly affected by the outbreak is culture, to be specific ⎼ religion.
During my lifetime I can’t remember churches being closed and parishioners told to stay at home. Certain concessions were afforded them; ‘Mass on Demand’ is offered for those who have access to computers. Unfortunately many older people simply don’t have such options and technology available to them. The 7 Network broadcast a Good Friday Service and the Easter Sunday High Mass from St Mary’s Cathedral. Alas technology is a very poor substitute for personal attendance.
Most Christian Sacraments must be administered personally. The very essence of the ‘Holy Mass’ is the consecration of the Host, the body and blood of Christ. Holy Communion, as the Blessed Sacrament is administered to the attending parishioners. These three aspects form the core of their Christian belief of the Holy Eucharist. This cannot be done virtually nor virally. Technology therefore offers very little consolation for those who have spent a lifetime of devotion to their faith, and to whom Easter is the most sacred and solemn celebration of their faith.
In some countries such as South Korea, Iran, and Malaysia, the surge of COVID-19 cases was attributed to religious gatherings and pilgrimage sites. Never before in modern history have Holy Sites in both the Sunni and the Shia Muslim world been closed for worshippers, to be sanitised or for security reasons.
In a month, Muslims will be entering Ramadan, and no doubt the axiology of religion that lies in rituals will be greatly lessened and disrupted.
This again is something technology cannot help to substitute. Of course, many can still appreciate sermons online, but without the human touch and the sacred ambience offered by rituals at holy sites, the very meaning of religion is in danger. This is so important since rituals often symbolise the essence of religion.
The very thing that religion provides is hope and faith. By disrupting these worshipers, greater damage can be done to the community than can be measured in purely economic terms.
Our government with church leaders of all faiths must address these issues as matters of national urgency and concern.
Will There Be Less International Cooperation?
I believe so. COVID-19 may fast-forward the fourth industrial revolution and digitalisation of all services, including public services. The relationship between the community and the state may become ever more remote, whereby states are now expanding their remote control over civil society and private life. Amid COVID-19, the individual will be sufficiently pressed to surrender basic civil liberties in return for security, which alters the social contract in the liberal world.
On the international level, there is most likely to be less co-operation. The trend of nationalism and self-reliance may grow especially in a Nation like ours, an Island continent. Fear of the “external” and “foreign” can be exploited by populists.
The Up-Coming FMCG Crisis
We have, during this lockdown seen some extraordinary consumer behaviour buying patterns. Without question the most curious of all was the run on toilet paper.
The centrepiece of today’s modern bathroom is no doubt the flush toilet. The first modern flushable toilet was described (invented???) in 1596 by Sir John Harington, an English courtier and the godson of Queen Elizabet. Harington installed a working model for Queen Elizabeth at Richmond Palace; however it took several centuries—and the Industrial Revolution’s improvements in manufacturing to bring it to the fore.
I strongly doubt that the fuss that was made over it then, would pale into insignificance, as the spectacle of women physically fighting in supermarket aisles over a six pack of Quilton Loo Paper. Given that Covid-19 is not a gastric virus, one has to wonder what on earth was possessing the people and why toilet paper was so high on the hoarders must have list.
Hoarding of FMCG products can have a detrimental effect on brands as a whole.
Some years ago I was witness to an overanxious Marketing Director, obsessed with building sales, flood the market with a 2 L container of a well-known stain removing product. It was put out at a discounted price. Suffice it to say, sales went through the roof. Normal consumers who might have bought one or two products that lasted a few weeks stockpiled litres and litres of the stuff.
The Marketing Director buoyed with an enormous success and sales moved on, and their replacement was charged with the task of building sales in that category. To say that it was a thankless task is to underscore the futility of his efforts. You couldn’t give the product away for love nor money. The hoarders having purchased their bargains ignored all efforts to promote it. Needless to say, new sales fell in a heap and it took 18months for the correction to take place.
I very much suspect that we will experience the very same set of circumstances today, but for a very different reason.
Let’s be honest there’s only so much toilet paper, pasta, rice, hand sanitiser, disinfectant and cleaning products one household can use at any one time. I would suggest to you that these categories along with others, post Covid-19 will experience a significant correction in sales volume, and marketers will be left wondering what they might do to correct their abysmal future sales quarters.
All these matters present enormous challenges to our political masters and their advisers. How they react will affect us all for generations to come. One can only hope that they are listening to the right people to make wise decisions, on all of our behalves.
More Next Week