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COVID19: There’s an additional cost in fighting the enemy

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Gradually, the lockdown lid will be lifted from our daily lives in three weeks time but getting back to normal isn’t as easy as it sounds.

The government has unveiled its plans to get the COVID-19 stricken economy back on its feet by opening up retail shops and constructions site – two huge employers.

Going to the beach, working out in the gym and travelling by air will all take slightly longer to come around.

Living under curfew, in a world of stay at home reality, there is much trepidation about venturing out in the wider community where the virus still lives and breathes.

Our reintroduction into doing what we use to do will be staggered as we dip our toes in the shallow water of an interactive society once again.

We will be allowed out of the house on May 21 but it will be a strange kind of freedom as we must continue to keep our distance and hygiene levels extremely high.

There can be no mingling or rubbing shoulders with shoppers in clothes stores, tables in restaurants will be three metres apart while going out as a family (there are five of us) will seem like bringing the circus to town.

When allowed to bathe in the sunlight again, we would have endured nearly three months of self-isolation, that kind of confinement conditions you to be wary while out in public.

Restriction on free movement may be lifted in three weeks but how free will we be? How will our fear of catching the virus affect the way we behave in a social setting?

Entering a confined space with people inside will set off alarm bells, making one feel uncomfortable, whereas pre-coronavirus it would have posed no visible risk.

A false sense of security could also be our undoing, feeling that Cyprus has this virus on the run while we can enjoy a summer of fun.

COVID-19 is waiting for us to let our guard down, to interact with each other, to feel we are untouchable before pouncing on our vulnerability.

Nevertheless, the government cannot keep us locked away forever, as the economy would crumble creating suffering on a much larger scale than the virus has inflicted on Cyprus so far.

Beneath the headlines of the everyday fight against the pandemic is the hidden costs that will be felt in the years to come.

People’s mental health has taken a thorough examination with no signs the government has assessed the impact seriously.

Psychological damage

It has done a good job of keeping the virus at bay but there is huge psychological damage that the government has no idea how to manage or even detect.

Another worry is the spike in domestic violence with women, and some men, being trapped with abusive partners with no avenue of escape.

There are other serious illnesses and surgeries that have been neglected as the hospitals tried to ensure they were not overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.

Undermining the health system was the high number of doctors and nurses who caught the deadly virus at the start of the outbreak, blunting the effectiveness of hospitals on the frontline.

Mistakes were made in confronting the invisible enemy but we owe a debt of gratitude to our healthcare heroes.

As non-urgent surgeries have been delayed how will hospitals cope with integrating into the national health system?

COVID-19 is a hidden threat, as are the consequences of having to conduct a scorched-earth policy to starve the virus of the victims it needs to thrive.

The consequences of this battle will be felt for many months if not years down the line as we try to adapt to survive a killer pandemic.

One of the most notable changes that are beginning to creep in, is that services rendered will become more expensive as a corona tax will become commonplace.

Already, dentists warn they will be charging a premium on dental work due to the extra PPE they have to wear and disinfectant needed for a deep clean after every patient.

Struggling airlines – when fully operational – will be hiking airfares with the need for plane reconfiguration so people are not packed like sardines.

Fewer seats, more demand, will push prices up for those companies who survive the financial cull of global lockdown.

Getting a seat at a restaurant – remember what that’s like – can incur a cost as social distancing dictates more space and fewer tables, again supply and demand will add to the price of a meal.

Not to worry, since the pending recession will take our jobs away, meals in a fancy restaurant will become another victim of coronavirus.

Stay home. Stay safe