Table of Contents
- Epidemiology of Covid-19
- Transmission and Pathogenesis
- Impact and Challenges of Covid-19
Corona virus positive cases continue to rise on a daily basis despite implementation of social distancing measures and extension of nationwide lockdown. The impact of the pandemic is visible across the sectors globally, but its effect on education and society has been immense in developing country like India. The people and communities are going through various social problems as well as in adjusting to the current lifestyles and fear of the disease across nations. The people below the poverty line are struggling for basic needs like food and shelter which then leads to unequal share in domestic responsibilities, to violence against the vulnerable members of the household. Social stress caused by lockdown has many faces and reasons resulting from travelling restrictions and disruption of cultural celebrations, limited healthcare facilities and interruption in regular immunisations in hospitals leading to anxiety and fear among the population, social distancing with friends and family, closure of places of entertainment and leisure, unplanned closure of schools and colleges affecting both students and parents regarding the academic year and the loss of quality education. The pandemic has significantly disrupted the higher education sector. The government has come up with e-learning program. Thus digital education appears to be a viable solution to fill the void for classroom education. Globally, online education has met with some success. In the case of India, we still have a long way to go before digital learning is seen as mainstream education, because students living in urban area have the facilities to opt for digital education, however, rural area students do not have the required infrastructure nor are financially strong to avail the resources required for digital education. Further, even if the digital infrastructure is built, training has to be given to the teachers to use the digital system to provide authentic and proper, uninterrupted and seamless education to the students. Remote learning increasingly relies on the reliable power supply and ubiquitous Internet connectivity. If appropriate measures are not implemented in time, the virus of racism will inherently remain in the mind-sets of people, with a threat to peace and stability of the society. A long term planning and collective effort of individuals, communities, governments, national and international organisations to fight against this invisible deadly virus is needed.
Corona viruses are a group of related RNA viruses that cause diseases in mammals and birds. In humans, the virus causes mild, moderate and lethal symptoms. When it infects the respiratory tract of human, it may cause lethal symptoms. This virus also causes common cold in human like other viruses. This virus was first detected in 1960s. It is associated with mild diseases in human, but in every few year appearance of the highly virulent strains occurs and causes pandemic. Corona viruses have been responsible for past pandemic viz. severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2002-2003 and the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) in South Korea in 2015 (1). Recently, Corona virus disease causes global pandemic with high morbidity and mortality in 2019.
Epidemiology of Covid-19
On 31st December, 2019, a case of pneumonia of unknown causes was detected in Wuhan city of China (2). Later on WHO declared that this case is due to a new form of Corona virus i.e. Covid -19. This virus is of zoonotic importance. Gradually the disease spread to various countries of world. Till 4th July.2020 cases were reported from 227 Countries and 26 cruise ships with high morbidity and mortality. A total of 11,093,182 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 525,491 deaths were reported till 4th July’ 2020. Ten (10) countries were worstly affected. They are United States, Italy, Spain, India, Germany, France, China, Iran, United Kingdom, Turkey and Belgium.
In India, Covid-19 activity was first detected in Kerela in 30th January ’2020. This first clinical case of Covid-19 was reported in a student studying medicine in an university of Wuhan city of China. Gradually the disease spread to almost all states of India. Based on different data from various time periods it has been found that Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Delhi are the worst affected states reporting highest number of cases in comparison to other states of India. Maharastra shared 30% of total cases of India. Whereas 67% are shared by Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Delhi (Fig 1). Till June 27, 2020 India saw the highest daily spike in Covid-19 cases with 18,552 new cases on June 27, 2020.
In Assam, the first case of COVID-19 was reported on 31 March 2020 (3). As of 1 July 2020, the Government of Assam has confirmed a total of 8,407. The activity of this virus was found in all the 33 districts of Assam (Fig 2). Maximum number of cases were reported from Kamrup (M) and lowest cases were reported from South salmara-Mankachar district. Till 4th July 14 nos. of deaths were reported (Fig 3) from 7 districts of Assam.
Transmission and Pathogenesis
Covid -19 is a zoonotic virus. This virus includes in family Coronaviridae and subfamily Coronavirinae. It is single stranded RNA virus causing subclinical infection to more severe respiratory infection leading to death of infected person. Sometimes it also cause neurological symptoms (3, 4).
Covid-19 is introduced into the human body by direct contact or through droplets spread during coughing and sneezing of the infected human being (5, 6). Alternatively, these heavy droplets contaminate the surrounding objects and surfaces which can infect the person when they touch their eyes, nose or mouth by their infected hands. The virus then spreads to the respiratory route and primary target of this virus i.e. lung epithelial cells. The incubation period of this virus is 5-6 days (7). Death may occur in 6 to 14 days after appearing of first symptoms (8). The infected person is able to transmit the virus before appearance of symptoms. The people with more than 60 years, children below 10 years, pregnant woman and people with pre-existing medical conditions are mostly susceptible than other age group (8). There is a transient phase of viremia producing fever, cough and fatigue. At the later stage, the person may produce sputum, headache, dysponea and diarrhoea. Chest CT scan reveal pneumonia, acute cardiac injury and respiratory distress symptoms (8, 9, 10). The pathological changes in Covid-19 have been reported as leucopenia, high erythrocyte sedimentation rate, high blood level of some cytokines etc (6). This virus appears to be stable at low and freezing temperature for a certain period.
Impact and Challenges of Covid-19
This newly arrived Covid-19 causes significant impact in the society of the globe. It affects all the direction of the society viz. travel, healthcare, economy, agriculture, education, commerce, business etc. The most dangerous condition is that in most of the cases the virus produces subclinical infection. So, the disease is very easily transmitted from one country to another country by the traveler. The degree of severity of this disease varies in different countries. Various countries applied some short term measures to control and prevent this pandemic disease. But, no specific medicines were discovered along with no effective vaccine against this deadly disease till date.
Impact and Challenges of Covid-19 in Education System
The pandemic has affected the different systems of the society worldwide specially the educational systems. On 25th March, 2020 UNESCO advised to widespread closures of schools and universities in 165 countries due to Covid-19. The motive of this shutdown is to firstly prevent the institution and specially the students from becoming a prey to the virus and secondly to flatten the curve which at that point of time India has only 142 Covid-19 positive cases. So, the education system faced an unexpected situation which affect the teaching and learning methods including the assessment methodologies. In India more than 32 crore students have been affected by the various restrictions and the nationwide lockdown. Gurdain and students are faced in social stress as the students missed the opportunities for learning and various jobs in different sectors. The final year students of universities and colleges worldwide are severely affected by the interruption of their study.
Higher education sector is mostly disrupted in this pandemic. In recent days, most of the students from India going to enrol in developed countries like US, UK for higher studies, but as these countries were worst affected by Covid-19, they have missed the opportunities for higher studies. If this situation is persist for long run, demand for international higher education is declined in near future. The present situation also affects the employment rate of the recent graduate. All are in fear to accept job offers in corporate sectors. The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy’s estimates that the unemployment rate is increased to 23% in early April from 8.4% in mid-March (11,12). Further, immediate measures are required to maintain the tradition of job offers, internship programs, and research projects.
A long term solution is needed to ensure continuity of learning system in private as well as government schools, college and universities. Some strategies should be developed that can manage the crisis of education sector of India. Although the digital learning system is employed in most of the school, college and universities, all the teachers and students are not involved in this system. Especially in countries like India the curriculum is not designed for online learning. Most of the aged teachers are also not aware about how to operate the internet in their mobile. Moreover, internet connection is not available in some remote areas also. In India, some areas are so backward that the electricity and internet facility are not available. So, it is remain a big question how this online education is successful in such remote areas of India. Large population of village areas are in BPL category and away from digital world and they are not capable of buying such mobile with internet connection for their study. The deprivation of the students of the rural areas can easily be felt and this is in the educational field and thus the future of the student, society and state is at stake. So, sudden shift of face to face class room learning to online learning may not successful in developing country like India. Thus online learning stand as a new challenges for near future.
Most of the teachers conduct the learning process in zoom platform which may not be a exact online learning portal that may improve the students learning. So, it is important to design such online tools especially for education system. Government developed DIKSHA platform in all over the states of India which will improved the learning system of the students.
In Assam, the government also launched a local educational television channel Gyan Brikshya for classes I to XII, to cover the learning loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown (13). They also waive the entire fee relating to admission and registration for the students of all educational institutes under education board (14). The government has decided to change the academic calendar for the schools of the state from January-December to April-March. The decision has been taken in order to compensate the loss of academic days due to COVID-19 lockdown (15, 16).
In this pandemic, new admission criterion, new opportunities and new recruitment process should be developed which can cope up with the present situation without losing the temper of student’s mindset. This will ensure overall progress of India by increase in employability, productivity, health and education system of India. Some new opportunities should be created in various sectors that will help in higher education system as a whole.
Impact and Challenges of Covid-19 in Society
The recent COVID-19 pandemic affect the livelihood of almost all section of a society although it mostly affect the people living in the poverty condition, older age group, disable person etc. The poor people specifically the homeless people affect more as they are not able to take shelter in safe places which exposing them to the danger of viruses. Increase of domestic violence also resulted from this pandemic. Stress and unequal share by the different person in a family may aggravate the domestic violence. The daily wages labour of the society affect more. Lock down resulting from Covid-19 pandemic stop the income source of the daily wages labour and thus they pass a very hard time for maintain their family. Lock down also increase the depression among the young generation.
This pandemic is affecting the routine immunization services significantly. It is likely to affect about 80 million children under the age of 1 year in 68 countries. This may be due to some parents are reluctant to leave home because of restriction in movements, lack of information or because they fear to getting infection of this disease. Many health workers are unavailable because of restriction on travel or replacement of “Covid” response duties as well as lack of protective equipments
Covid-19 pandemic also affected the religious sentiments of different religions. It is due to the cancellation of various festivals observed by different religions. They are also not able to offer worship in church, mosque, temple, pagoda etc. This pandemic is also increase the suicide case as well. It may be resulting from financial crisis, social isolation of positive case, social distancing and unemployment.
Covid-19 pandemic is increase the inequality among the population mainly in developing world. Currently almost all level of school, college and universities are closed. Most of the students are gathered their knowledge from home through online teaching. Whereas poorer section of the society is face difficulties in appearing online teaching due to lack of proper tools of communication. Thus resulting in inequality among the people especially woman group is observed.
This epidemic is also affecting mostly the Indian economy. Almost 14 crore people lost their employment and salaries were cut for many other people (17). The income in this year is drop to more than 45% of household in comparison to the previous year (18). Most of the business and corporate sector affected significantly. The agriculture sector also affected mainly the farmer who cultivates the perishable one (19). The daily wages group are also at the most risk (20). The Government of India has taken varieties measures to tackle the challenges and threat cause by Covid-19 pandemic and release extra funds for healthcare sector.
The Covid-19 pandemic is considered as a greatest challenge that impact on all socio economic and political sectors of infected countries. In recent times, it is important to control the source of disease, cut off the transmission path, and use the existing drugs & means to control the progress of the disease proactively. All the people should take the measures to cut the chain of the disease to win the pandemic in due course of time before it is too late
Reduction of person to person transmission can controlled the present Covid-19 outbreak. More concentration should be given to the most susceptible section of the society viz. elder people, children below 10 years and pregnant woman. Monitoring of subclinical infection and finding of possible reservoir and intermediate animal host are the key elements to make a prevention strategy of present outbreak or future outbreak of this disease. Government should provide decontaminating agent, mask to each and every people to prevent the man to man transmission. To decrease the damage connected with COVID-19, public health and infection control actions are immediately necessary to limit the global spread of the virus.
The COVID-19 crisis has affected societies and economies around the globe and will permanently reshape our world as it continues to unfold. While the fallout from the crisis is both amplifying familiar risks and creating new ones, change at this scale also creates new openings for managing systemic challenges, and ways to build back better.
The Government also take initiative in organization of awareness camp in remote areas of India to make the people aware about the preventive measures that will limit the transmission of this virus from one person to another. In Assam, college and university students face some problems due to lack of sufficient online books and materials in the internet. This problem is not the fault of parents or the students itself but the education system in our state that lacks the focus it deserves. Throughout the year, the government delayed or perhaps took no interest in the improvement and set up a common learning process digitally or online. The present situation is an eye opener. Taking in to consideration in all the aspects, we believe that “classroom learning” is a basic form of education, it shall soon see the light of day by the government along with the co-operation of the entire population in this fight against the virus.