Life with Covid-19: What will be the New ‘Normal’?

Assoc. Prof. Özge Karadağ-Çaman has noted that the ones who have set a certain goal for themselves and work to reach that goal can get over Covid-19 quarantine more easily. “There is no room for hopelessness,” she has warned.

Editor's note:

Read the full article at the Bianet here.

By Evrim Kepenek


April 28, 2020

Assoc. Prof. Özge Karadağ-Çaman from Columbia University Center for Sustainable Development (CSD) in the US has met her audience in an online conference organized by the Columbia Global Centers.

Sharing her observations regarding how the Covid-19 pandemic has been affecting our daily lives and how it will define a new "normal" for our public health, Karadağ-Çaman was in discussion with Columbia Global Centers Istanbul Director İpek Cem-Taha.

İpek Cem-Taha also shared the questions that came before and during the event with Karadağ-Çaman.

Some highlights from the conference are as follows:

'Turkey needs to take more radical decisions'

Coronavirus measures: Every country has a different strategy. Some countries have managed to keep the number of cases very limited by quickly closing their borders and entirely breaking their connection with the outside world on land, sea and air. Then, they have detected the number of cases inside their countries, imposed isolations and quarantines. These countries have not yet opened to the outside world.

At this point, the number of cases is very important, just as the cultural characteristics of countries are also crucial. As cultural characteristics of countries differ from one to one another, reactions vary too. For instance, when you announce restrictions to civil populations, the ones in the Far East - based on their experiences from previous outbreaks as well - act far more quickly. They collaborate and take individual responsibility.

In comparison, in Mediterranean countries that enjoy socializing, being outside and neighbourliness. These often act more loosely when implementing the measures that need to be taken individually.

If the number of cases is high in a country, curfews can be imposed for a certain period of time, varying from  20 days to a month. Karadağ-Çaman observes that in those countries where curfews are more strict, control can be established more quickly and in a shorter time. 

In many places, markets stayed open, pharmacies stayed open and people were allowed to go to the market or pharmacy whenever they wanted. I think that it is important as well. When you restrict the number of people inside the pharmacy by square meter and obligate people to wear masks, it is, in fact, doable. We have also seen that. For instance, in Italy, only one person could leave the house. He or she had to be wearing a mask. When that person went to the market, he or she queued up outside by keeping a distance of two meters if the market was small and there had to be two people inside the market the most. One person left the market, and the next one could then enter.

If a country’s measures are this efficient, it is then possible to impose a curfew with markets and pharmacies open and public transportation still operating. Therefore, Karadağ-Çaman suggests that by analyzing these models, new things can be adopted for Turkey. She adds that more radical measures can shorten the course of the outbreak.

'There is no room for hopelessness'

Karadağ-Çaman’s recommendations are hopeful. She says that “there is no room for hopelessness.” Although the situation has many uncertainties, there are also many things that we know. Our knowledge is growing with each passing day. To Karadağ-Çaman, we must accept that the period that we live in is an advantageous one. In today’s world, we have communication, the Internet, scientists and decision-makers who are able to communicate all the time, and we can work from home.

By using technology, Karadağ-Çaman suggests it is possible for us to offer our services in a different way.  She recommends that everyone who has time these days should read about other outbreaks in history and about past experiences.  She also recommends setting goals for ourselves in order to keep track of our personal progress in this tumultuous time.