Covid-19 as a Crisis or as a Disaster
The impacts of Covid-19 have permeated the whole world, and as the world still grapples with the serious impacts it has had on people’s lives, social scientists are saying we should not treat covid-19 as a crisis, but rather as a disaster. Crisis implies a situation deviating from ‘normal’, reaching a peak and then returning to said ‘normal’. Yet when we consider what turned covid-19 from a simple respiratory virus into a global pandemic, we have to confront that ‘normal’ is what got us here.
Our lives before covid-19, increasing globalization, the interconnectedness of everything and everyone, deforestation and social inequity were the driving factors that allowed covid-19 to spread so quickly and efficiently around the world.
While many countries had some form of preparation for this kind of event, such as laws that govern a health crisis’ or stockpiles of masks or other protective gear, covid-19 once again reiterates what anthropologists already knew; it is difficult to prepare for a disaster you have never experienced.
This ‘new’ threat to many countries is, in part, responsible for what made covid-19 so devastating, as the systems in place to protect us either failed to work or were never meant to combat a disaster on this scale. Certain countries, such as South Korea, Singapore and Vietnam who have dealt with outbreaks of SARS and MERS in the recent past were able to combat covid-19 more effectively, as they have had ‘practice’ in dealing with this kind of event.