By Ayoub Bouhemhem
Like the rest of us, you must probably be in your pyjamas, sitting in your bedroom or living room while browsing memes or the news on your mobile phone. While this situation is beneficial to all introverts in the planet, COVID-19 has had more impacts globally than just forcing us into massive quarantine. This article, which is meant to complement last issue’s article on Coronavirus, will take you through an overview of the current situation, impacts on the country and your school life, as well as some explanations as to why you might be stuck in your pyjamas for more than two weeks.
Changes since last report
A month from today, our past issue has reported that only one case of COVID-19 has been reported on Canadian soil, more specifically in Toronto. As of the end of March, around 1054 cases of confirmed COVID-19 have been reported on Canadian soil, with 139 of those originating from Quebec. Unfortunately, the provincial government also announced the first fatality of the virus in the province.
While these may look unbelievable, the situation is much worse throughout the globe. The World’s Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed that 209 839 confirmed cases have been reported throughout the globe, with it making new breaches into African countries. While it may have taken three months to reach the first 100 000 confirmed cases, it only took 12 additional days to double that amount according to officials of the organization. In some other countries, the situation has fallen out of control and the numbers of confirmed cases has been increasing at unfathomable rates, such as Iran and Italy. The latter reports 47 000 confirmed cases and 4 000 deaths on its soil. Even more, the situation in the US is alarming a few specialists, predicting that a scenario like the Italian one is probable by analyzing the numbers. As a result, some states in the US consider confining its population, as the governors of New York and of California have decreed. Other countries have also resorted to such measures, such as Spain, Italy, Argentina and France, by involving the presence of the army in the streets to reinforce the quarantine.
Implications of COVID-19
COVID-19 implies significant uncertainty, which is a concept that both governments and the economy do not take lightly. While Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wants to repatriate all Canadian citizens travelling abroad in an airplane originating from Morocco, he has also struck a deal with Donald Trump to close the Canadian-US border temporarily, as Mexico did with all non-essential travellers. Also, the Prime Minister has announced a new play to mobilize businesses and manufacturers to help the health sector by making them produce life-saving supplies, as it is considered valuable in such times and to combat the spread of the virus within the population.
For the economy, COVID-19 has introduced a lot of uncertainties that investors do not want to handle. As such, Wall Street has not only known its worst week since 2008’s economic crisis, but it has also lost all the value it has gained during Trump’s mandate, as NASDAQ and the DOW JONES has lost 3 and 5 percent respectively.
A significant number of businesses are resorting to cuts in their effectives in order to palliate with the reduction of revenues from these past few days. Airlines are suffering the most, as this industry is set to lose 29 BUS$ according to the International Air Transportation Association. Air Canada has temporarily released 5 000 flight attendants due to several flights and destinations that have been cancelled recently, noteworthily its flights to China, Italy, Caribbean and now the US. Same scenario for Air Transat, another significant air transporter in Quebec, which has announced that it will cut 2 000 jobs as well. These are news that are hard to digest for the government as the train industry also cut down several jobs due to the conflict with Indigenous people that has been happening through the country.
The only thing to rejoice in these dark times is the reduction of the CO2 emissions in the world these last few days. Due to the self-isolation, transportation has seen significant decrease in their ridership. This drop has reached over a 40% reduction in Chinese cities according to the European Space Agency, although these numbers are rough estimates.
Impacts on student life
As you are probably aware of, McGill sends regular updates to all students and faculty members regarding its response to the present situation. Noteworthily, here are the most significant points made in their publications.
Students will not be required to show up on campus for their classes. All classes will have an online transition, allowing students to learn through long distances.
All exams and homeworks were put on hold while school was suspended for two weeks, from March 13th to March 30th.
McGill urges its students to return back to their originating country, if they are able to and if they feel it is safe for them to do so.
All final examinations will be performed online, and instructors will enter in contact with their students in the following week as to how they will proceed to teach the end of this semester.
All summer courses of the upcoming summer semester will be taught online.
In order to stay updated with McGill’s course of action or have any more additional information, read your most recent emails or visit McGill’s dedicated website to this situation at https://www.mcgill.ca/coronavirus/
Is there any hope? What should I do?
While there has been no proven pharmaceutical experiment that anti-malarial drugs can treat COVID-19, it has managed to relieve the symptoms and effects that patients feel. Clinical trials have been done in order to asses its efficiency and possible secondary effects, but at least there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
It is important for all citizens to follow the government’s prescribed course of action and for all students to remain up to date with their instructors’ and the institution’s information. Remain isolated in order to protect those that are vulnerable to such a virus, but make sure to make it productive while you can! ♦