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Posted On: 9 April 2020 07:42 pm
Updated On: 12 November 2020 09:11 am

The many ways COVID-19 pandemic is impacting daily life in Qatar

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Life as we know it is continually changing as the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) spreads around the world. In an effort to “flatten the curve,” we’ve had to adjust the way we live, work, study, and play. This has come as a shock to many, as it has thrown habits and routines into disarray.

There’s still much we don’t know about COVID-19, which stands for coronavirus disease 2019 caused by a virus called SARS-CoV-2. With a vaccine nowhere in sight, society is finding ever-creative ways to adapt to this new normal. Here are ways that the pandemic is changing our lives.

1. Focus on hygiene

We’ve always known about the importance of hand-washing, but this previously mundane task has assumed a front-seat role during the recent outbreak. We’re not talking about the quick rinse and go that many have adopted over the years. Staying ahead of this virus requires frequent and proper hand-washing. Clean hands save lives!

Furthermore, hand sanitizer, disinfectants, face masks, and gloves are now prized possessions. There’s been a huge increase in demand as people take extra precautions to stay safe and healthy. On a related note, we’re also constantly reminded to avoid touching our face and to observe proper cough/sneeze etiquette.

READ MORE: Here's how to protect yourself from COVID-19!

2. Stay at home

As part of the precautionary measures to fight the spread of COVID-19, airports are shutting down, events are being canceled, entertainment and leisure establishments (cinema, gym, parks, beaches) are closing, and restaurant service is being restricted. Public gatherings have also been banned, and even money remittance centers are shuttering. And while there is no official “lockdown” in place, residents are being told to stay at home and to go out only for necessities.

With restaurant restrictions in place, cooking at home has seen a resurgence. This might prove to be a good thing, as home-cooked meals are often healthier.

Exercising at home is another trend growing in popularity. As gyms and other public places are closed, this is now the main option for those looking to get fit. If you’re one of those people but don’t know where to start, follow these accounts to get on track with your fitness goals.

Mosques and churches have also been closed, so the faithful are now praying at home and online.

All this social distancing can lead to feelings of loneliness, and the news can make us anxious and stressed. If you’d like to have a confidential conversation with a mental health professional, call the free helpline on 16000 from 7 am to 10 pm daily.

3. Working and studying remotely

As only 20% of employees are still working in offices, companies have shifted to working remotely. Employees are coming to grips with an entirely new routine and workflow. Many are hopeful that this will actually increase productivity.

Distance learning has likewise taken off. Students throughout Qatar are still adjusting to what surely must feel like a dream for many school children. What used to be face-to-face lessons are now done via video conferencing.

4. Greetings

Handshakes are a thing of the past, as are hugs and cheek kisses. The classic wave has reemerged as the preferred greeting. Other new types of greetings have also appeared - foot taps, elbow bumps, etc. What’s your new go-to greeting?

5. Increased use of technology

While it isn’t exactly a new trend, the pandemic is driving us to spend even more time online. We keep up with the news, communicate with family and friends, and entertain ourselves via the internet and social media.

Moreover, technology plays an important role in the digitalization of services, which is allowing us to forego human contact - at least for now.

Thanks to online banking and other apps, we can easily send money overseas even while remittance centers are closed. The Ministry of Public Health has also launched a suite of remote services which includes telephone and video consultations. Similarly, the Ministry of Interior is now utilizing drones and security robots in its campaign to combat COVID-19 in Qatar.

6. The way we shop

Our shopping habits are also being impacted. Social distancing is now enforced and the use of PPE (personal protective equipment) is strongly encouraged. Contactless payments in lieu of cash are now the way to go to minimize the risk of exposure.

And while online shopping isn’t a new thing, more people have resorted to e-commerce to shop for groceries and other necessities.

7. Entry restrictions

As part of the preventive measures taken to prevent the spread of coronavirus, Qatar restricted the entry of expatriates into the country. As a result, those who are outside the country when the decisions were released are not able to come back to Qatar for the time being. For those who have families here, it is heartbreaking and difficult to be apart from their families during these challenging times. For those who live by themselves, the entry restrictions are putting them into a lot of stress, having to worry about their rent, belongings, and job security.

8. Realizing the importance of the healthcare system (and frontline workers)

During a health crisis, we rely on the country’s healthcare system to rise to the occasion. Fortunately, Qatar has the highest number of doctors per capita. The sacrifices that our healthcare workers make have really come to light recently. Being away from their families as they work tirelessly on the “battlefront” is truly admirable. In the same vein, the State of Qatar provides free medical examinations and services and takes many other measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the community.

9. Appreciating what we have

With our lives being upended, we’ve come to appreciate the little things. Our jobs, our homes, our families, our health - it can all disappear in the blink of an eye.

10. The importance of teamwork

While the Qatar government is doing its best in the fight against the COVID-19, we the residents of Qatar must also do our part. We must abide by the guidelines set forth and trust that the government is doing everything in its power to protect our health.

READ MORE: Here's how Qatar is coping with coronavirus outbreak!

After the pandemic is over, do you think we’ll go back to the way we were, or will things be forever changed?