Silver linings of a pandemic: Lessons from COVID-19

A man plays with his phone as he sits by a jetty in Male' City on May 24, 2020. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

It didn’t take long for the new coronavirus, which emerged from the Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019, to spread across six continents of the world. By the end of February this year, the disease had the entire world in its grasp, upending lives and livelihoods.

Health experts warn we must learn to live with the new coronavirus. The pandemic has changed our way of life, forcing us to stay home and abandon the daily routines we once took for granted. It has been months since we stopped meeting up our friends over coffee. It has been months since we stopped going to work. It has been months since children have been bored in their homes with the schools closed.

But, life must go on. And as we adapt to this drastic change, what are the lessons the coronavirus pandemic taught us?


Even living on salaries barely enough to cover expenses, no day is complete without meeting friends over a cup up coffee at a café. It is a must to dine out at an expensive restaurant with our significant others at least once a month. No office day is complete without heading over to the nearby grocery store to get some snacks. Smokers spend hundreds feeding their nicotine habit.

But all this changed when the pandemic reached Male’ City, forcing it into a lockdown. Offices closed, and cafes and restaurants were deserted. Those who once spent thousands of coffees each month now accept that it is something they could have gone without. Smokers have cut down on their nicotine. The time spent home with family coupled with financial constraints has minimized both the need and opportunity for such expensive habits.

Customers at a coffee shop in Male' City. (Sun Photo/Mohamed Muzain Nazim)

“I now understand I could have gone without rushing to buy makeup, clothes and shoes as soon as I got by monthly salary. That it’s not a problem not to order stuff online. The one thing the economic downfall of the coronavirus has taught me is the importance of savings. It has been two months since I ordered anything though an online app. I have not purchased a new lipstick since when went into lockdown. But I understand it is for the better,” said one young woman.

“Before, my heart wouldn’t have been content without heading out for two three coffees with my friends. I spent around MVR 200 on coffees on a daily basis. But now, staying home like this, I understand what a waste that was, that I could have done without coffees. But I do miss hanging out with my friends.”

She said the coronavirus pandemic taught her the merits of economizing and saving.

With so many laid off or forced to accept cuts to their salaries, economizing has become more relevant than ever.

Whereas Ramadan is usually associated excessive spending on furniture, household appliances and food, there was significantly less wastage in Ramadan this year.


Strengthening family bonds wasn’t something many had actively pursued. With half the day spent at work and the rest meeting up with friends, home was just a place to sleep at. Stuck in this endless loop, we don’t interact with our family unless it’s Friday, or if there’s a special celebration at home.

However, the lockdown has forced us to spend all our time home. Going out requires a special permit, and it isn’t long before the allocated time nears an end and we have to rush back home again.

And with this, we are spending more time with our families, strengthening bonds.

A family enjoying a stroll at the Fishermen's Park in Male' City during Ramadan on June 17, 2016. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

We now understand the simple pleasures in helping our mothers as they undertake the many household tasks we never noticed could be so tiring, or in playing and sharing a laugh with our younger siblings.

“Before, in Ramadan, I would just lie down to rest after coming home from work. And after breaking my fast, I wound go out. I used to spend most of my time with my friends. But this entire Ramadan, I spent my time with my family. I spent time with my younger siblings, and at night the entire family joined in games. It’s actually a very happy experience. Something which had been a rare occurrence before,” said a young woman who lives in Male’ with her family.


The most basic and the most frequently issued advice by health experts on preventive measures against the coronavirus is to wash our hands with soap and practice good hygiene.

The coronavirus pandemic has led to more people paying attention to hygiene. We are washing our hands more frequently, following the now-habitual seven-step handwashing etiquette 

We are disinfecting our phones, and we are cleaning our homes more thoroughly.


One important lesson the coronavirus pandemic taught us is that maintaining bonds of family and friendship do not require face-to-face interactions.  While it may have been months since we haven’t met the friends we had once not gone a single day without, or the family members separated from us due to the lockdown, the conveniences of modern technological advances such as video calls allows us to continue to keep in touch with them.

A group of teenage boys at the swimming track in Hulhumale'. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

As coronavirus cases continue to rise, it’s not easy to stay positive. This pandemic has brought with it suffering and despair. But some of the side effects have been surprisingly positive.