COVID-19 Pandemic: How We Can Get through It and Create a Better Future (Guest Author: Junko Edahiro)


Progress Namibia - COVID-19 Pandemic: How We Can Get through It and Create a Better Future (Guest Author: Junko Edahiro)
05 May 2020

Like many other countries, Japan has been experiencing the ongoing spread of the new coronavirus (COVID-19). At first, many people expected the situation to improve in the spring, but in fact it is beginning to look like this is going to last a long time. What can we do not to lose the fight against the virus? And what kind of society should we envision after overcoming this crisis?

Five Tips to Get You through the Coronavirus Pandemic

To prevent the spread of the coronavirus, it is essential to stay home, but there are still many other things we can do. Below I offer five tips on things we can do right now.

1) Stay Healthy (to maintain physical strength and immune system)

There are no vaccines or medicines for the coronavirus at the moment. Of course, we need to be careful not get infected, but another important thing is to build and maintain our immunity and physical strength to minimize the severity of illness in case we do get infected.

- Get enough sleep.
- Get enough nourishment.
- Get enough activity and exercise, even if you stay home.
- Practice deep breathing.

2) Stay Positive

In a situation like this we can be bombarded with negative news and mountains of numbers. If you are feeling dragged down by negative information, your energy goes down, which increases the chance of losing against the virus. But in most cases, we can still choose to be positive whatever situation we are in. So, let's choose to stay positive!

- Control the information you take in.
- Try to find the positive stories.

You can choose when and how often to check online or other media for news on the coronavirus. It is within your power to turn the tap on or off and control the flow of information. The situation may be stressful, but there are plenty of heartwarming stories and inspiring initiatives out there. When you find something good, share it with your friends and others around you.

3) Stay Connected

For all of us, it is currently not so easy to go out and to see or talk to each other. Nevertheless, thanks to the Internet and other media it is still possible to stay connected while keeping a physical distance. Stay connected with society. Don't shut yourself off from the world.

- Send your friends a caring message via e-mail, social media, etc.
- For those who cannot easily access the Internet, make a phone call or pay a visit to check in on them.
- Do what you can to help those who are particularly hit hard in your community.

4) Stay Thankful

At this very moment, many health workers are fighting to save lives and stop the spread of the virus. Many people are delivering food and essentials to those who are self-isolating. Many others are working hard behind the scenes in ways we may never know and even risking their own safety to stop the situation from getting worse. We should all be deeply grateful.

- If you have the opportunity, express your gratitude.
- Even if you do not have the opportunity, say a thankful message to them in your heart and pray for their safety.

5) Stay Focused

Keep thinking about what really matters. Don't listen if a little "inner voice" tells you the pandemic is no time to think about other important issues. Climate change, marine plastic pollution, and the cycle of poverty did not agree to a "cease fire." In fact, some situations may get worse because of the coronavirus.

- Think about what is truly important, and envision society and the community as you want them to be after the coronavirus crisis is over. - Talk about what matters with the people around you.

Awakened by this situation, people who before now may not have been very interested in social and environmental issues may now begin to realize that some things in the world need to change.


Initiatives for Our Future, Beyond COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is a real crisis. We need to work together to curb the spread of the virus as much as possible, and to support people and their families who have been affected.

I feel our ability to support each other is being tested. We need to put ourselves in the shoes of patients and their families, medical staff at hospitals, logistics and retail workers who support our daily lives, local shops and restaurants struggling to survive without customers, and those whose livelihoods are at risk due to the pandemic.

One of the above five tips is to "Stay Positive." If we search for positive news we will discover many initiatives that can get us to the world beyond this crisis. I have noticed seven main categories of activities, which I will illustrate below with examples from Japan. Incidentally, we have created a poster to summarize these five tips. Please click <https://www.ishes.org/en/index/pdf/5S_eng.pdf>here for a free download.

1) Support for education and children during school closures

The "Don't stop learning!" project is an industry-academia-government collaboration project in Japan supporting the creation of a digital learning environment for anyone, anywhere, anytime. Another initiative publishes information on four types of services to support people during temporary school closures: meals, childcare, learning, and other. The site carries a variety of content, including childcare services for as little as one day at a time.

2) Support for small business

The Kurashiru Store has been offering the services of its e-commerce site at no charge to deliver items to consumers from the food inventories of restaurants and shops. It is growing quickly via social media and word-of-mouth. The Nikkei newspaper has reported on the Mirai Business Council, consisting of 21 small- and medium-sized businesses in Osaka, which has been coordinating the temporary placement of employees from companies that have been negatively affected by COVID-19 to work at companies that are still doing well.

3) Mutual support in the community

Machimachi is an online platform that uses social media to provide local information such as ideas on how to spend time with children and where to buy local vegetables that are now in surplus supply due to school closures. Using this tool, neighbors can help each other without needing to meet face-to-face.

4) Support for vulnerable groups

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries promotes donations of unused food products to food banks. The ministry gathers information on food-related businesses that wish to donate surplus food items arising from the cancellation of events and school lunch programs, and forwards the information to the food banks across Japan.

5) Support for arts and culture

The Nippon Professional Baseball Organization released a message to cheer up baseball fans, saying "Together with our fans we will overcome the difficulties and work hard to once again present our national sport, baseball."

6) Preventing collapse of the medical system

Rakuten Travel, which manages a hotel accommodation reservation website, asked hotels across Japan if they were able to accept COVID-19 patients who had mild symptoms or no symptoms. By the second day of this initiative, the company announced that the result that 744 hotels were able to accept patients in a total of 90,991 rooms.

7) Maintaining social connections

Kanagawa Prefecture opened a special webpage entitled "SDGs Action to Overcome COVID-19" on its official website. The prefecture introduces initiatives to maintain local connections and vitality under theme of "partnership," which is the 17th goal of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.


I believe that ideas like these have the power to restore society and to move in the direction to achieve what is truly important for society. We need to show a vision of the world and society at the "end of the tunnel" in order to determine the direction we want to be heading after COVID-19.

I would like to continue gathering and sharing information on ideas and initiatives that can help to achieve our ideal society. Please do reach out to let us know of any amazing initiatives you come across, so we can share them with others. I look forward to hearing from you. Send information to: inquiry_en@ishes.org

About the Author:
Junko Edahiro is the President of the Institute for Studies in Happiness, Economy and Society (ISHES), and a Professor at the Department of Leadership and Innovation at the Graduate School of Leadership and Innovation at Shizenkan University. She is also a social entrepreneur, an environmental journalist, and a translator (having translated dozens of books on climate change, energy, systems thinking, and many other sustainability topics. Junko is one of the most prominent environmental journalists in Japan. For more information about Junko's work, visit: https://www.ishes.org/en/aboutus/biography.html