Lockdown, self-isolation, personal protective equipment – the lexicon of Covid-19 is everywhere. With much of the world now in the second month of some kind of restriction, tempers are fraying, but the best part of humanity continues to rise to the surface. Here is more good news from the pandemic.
The Together We Are Good campaign by the Authority of Social Contribution – Ma’an is a resounding success. More than 8,000 people have signed up as volunteers and donations, both big and small, have flooded in.
Hotels in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain are making more than 1,000 hotel rooms available for free to medical personnel who are on standby duty or who need to isolate themselves away from their families. The Millennium Group, Royal Rose, Park Rotana and City Seasons in Abu Dhabi and the Ayla in Al Ain are among the places where medical workers can get a good night’s sleep. The Bin Ham group, which owns the Royal Rose and City Seasons, is throwing in free meals and room service, too. The International School in Abu Dhabi is also offering free accommodation in the scheme, which is co-ordinated by Ma’an.
Adel Ali Baslaib, chief executive of Arabian Company Group has pledged Dh3 million. He is also donating all the furniture currently in warehouses from his Arco interiors company, to be used to improve comfort in quarantine sites. Dr Bhaskar Dasgupta, a British resident, is offering to provide Dh500 to Dh1,000 a month for families who have a reduced income due to health and economic challenges.
Two young Emirati boys – Ahmed Yehia Al Hashimi, seven, and Meshal Mubarak Al Rashedi, eight – have contributed Dh1,000 to the program to provide aid to those who need it. The two young friends urged others to follow their example “as a national duty.”
Etihad Airways is collaborating with Emirates Red Crescent to provide and deliver more than 70,000 meals a day to isolated residents who need help.
Some of the other good news happening:
- UAE company Immensa Technology Labs is using 3D printing at factories in Dubai and Sharjah to produce thousands of low-cost face shields for use in hospitals and the food industry.
- Medics at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City in Abu Dhabi have joined their colleagues all over the world in sticking their names and smiley photos of themselves on the overalls they have to wear while treating Covid-19 patients, to reassure them that there is an actual, caring human being inside the space suit.
- At 16 years of age, TJ Kim is still too young to drive. But he can fly a plane. Every week, the teenage pilot from McLean, Virginia in the US turns his flying lessons into Operation SOS – Supplies Over Skies and delivers masks, gloves, surgical gowns and other medical supplies to small rural hospitals in his home state. “Every hospital is hurting for supplies but it’s the rural hospitals that really feel forgotten,” he said.
- At the other end of the age spectrum, 101-year-old Ruth Anderson, who remembers people talking about the Spanish flu epidemic a century ago, is using her sewing skills to make medical masks while in isolation in her apartment in Naples, Florida.
- Linking both age ranges together are Kirah, five, and Ron, 93, who live in the same street in Wolverhampton, central England. Kirah wrote to her isolated elderly neighbor to ask if he was OK and sent him a picture of a rainbow she had drawn. Ron, who lives alone, was extremely touched and wrote back thanking Kirah for the “amazing” picture and said he was placing it in his window for all to see. Their exchange has gone viral after Ron’s grand-daughter posted about it on social media and their correspondence continues.
- Rainbows have become a symbol of hope in the pandemic and on April 13 (Easter Monday), New Yorkers were greeted by the sight of a real, full-sized rainbow arcing over the Hudson river.
- Karshare, a scheme launched in two British cities, Brighton and Bristol, invites car owners who are not using their cars to loan them for a week to health care workers and volunteers. All vehicles are insured and inspected and cleaned before being returned to their owners.
- Mobile phone companies are not the first names you associate with altruism but in the UK, five of them have joined together to ensure customers on low incomes or on pay-as-you-go plans can get free access to the National Health Service website for information.
- Politicians don’t get much praise, usually, but some are doing more than their everyday duty in the coronavirus crisis. The Taoiseach (first minister) of Ireland, Leo Varadkar, was a doctor before entering politics and is going back to his former profession for one day a week. In Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK, local councillors Kathryn Owen and John Kyle are also back in harness as medical professionals. Owen has gone back to nursing while Dr Kyle who, at 68, is in the at risk age group, has come out of retirement. In France, senators Bernard Jomier and Veronique Guilotin have resumed their former careers as doctors while politician Caroline Fiat has gone back to nursing. And Hungarian Katalin Cseh, a member of the European Parliament, has left Brussels and is working as an unpaid volunteer medic in Budapest.
- More donations by celebrities include: US$1 million from reality show star Kylie Jenner to buy protective gear for medical staff in Los Angeles; 200,000 euros ($218,000) from designer Donatella Versace to a Milan hospital; and $1 million from Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds and his actress wife, Blake Lively, to food banks in the US and Canada.
- Meanwhile, air quality around the world continues to improve. In China, the world’s worst polluter, CO2 emissions went down 25 percent during lockdown. Researchers at Stanford University in the US calculate that the reduction in emissions recorded in January and February could save 77,000 lives in China, which is more than 20 times the number of people who died of Covid-19 during those months.
- More good environmental news: Nitrous oxide (N2O) is ranked the third most serious greenhouse gas, attacking the ozone layer and contributing to global warming. Human activity, mostly in industry and agriculture, is responsible for around 30 percent of the nitrous oxide in the atmosphere. During lockdown in Spain, levels of the gas fell by 56 percent in March. Similar declines were recorded in Paris, Milan, Brussels and Frankfurt. And a new report that came out ahead of Earth Day suggests that governments investing in green technology through stimulus packages could be the key to recovery.
Anna Pukas has reported from all over the world as a foreign correspondent for British media. She is now an editor based in Abu Dhabi.