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I ’m not sure any of us could have predicted the consequences of the ‘Disease Outbreak’ first reported by the World Health Organization way back on 5th January. That said, some forward-thinkers certainly knew what was coming when they stripped the shelves of toilet paper long before the lockdown had even been announced. Many assumed the sudden and unforeseen demand for this everyday essential was due to another, undisclosed symptom of the disease; a third, unpleasant indication (in addition to the high fever and persistent cough), that COVID-19 had infiltrated their body’s natural defences. Only when the stockpiling of pasta and tinned foods began, did the mystery of the disappearing toilet paper become clear.

Thankfully, supermarkets were (eventually) able to replenish their stocks, although, even now, shortages of some items remain. Hand sanitizer is back on the shelves (albeit at a higher price), dried pasta is readily available, and fights are no longer breaking out in the toilet paper aisle. As the seriousness of the situation become clear and social distancing put paid to the pushing and shoving, it was now a race to see who could make it to the home baking section first. Priorities, it seems, had shifted and people were now willing to sell their soul for self-raising flour.

Anyway, what started out as a bread-making necessity, forced upon us when the supermarket shelves were bare, has ended up as a popular and healthy pastime. Not only are we making our own bread, we’re also baking cakes, pies and puddings and, evidently, loving every minute of it. We’re blowing the dust off our recipe books and enjoying hours of endless fun in the kitchen. Home baking may have kept the boredom at bay during lockdown, but it will, I suspect, continue to entertain (and feed) us when this pesky disease is long gone. Keep those flour mills grinding!

Away from the supermarkets (and kitchens), people began to appreciate the joy of the great outdoors. Denied their usual routines, a daily walk was, for some, a new phenomenon. Born from frustration and the need to escape from quarantine, people donned their walking shoes to take advantage of the limited window of opportunity. Whilst they were confined to their own neighbourhoods they were still able to appreciate the beauty on their doorstep. This precious dose of fresh air and exercise, once unheard of and previously only experienced under duress, was now the highlight of their lockdown lives. For many, the walks continued once restrictions were lifted and their regular appointment with the outdoors was retained, their post-curfew health all the better for it.

Of course, we’re not the only ones to benefit from the ‘stay at home’ guidance. Our planet, if it could talk, would be expressing its gratitude for releasing it (if only temporarily) from the smog that was slowly suffocating it. Whilst it’s inevitable that frequent air and road travel will resume and that things will, eventually, return to some form of normality, it would be nice to think that some of us will reconsider our previous habits and adopt a greener, more sustainable way of life. The habits we have adopted during our enforced isolation may not have been voluntary but, with hindsight, could be worth continuing. Our beaches are so much cleaner, the sea is so much clearer and is it my imagination, or are the stars so much brighter?

Another positive side effect of the pandemic is our new found love and respect for key workers. Never have our doctors and nurses been so appreciated and admired. In fact, all medical and care staff are now looked upon as heroes. This recent gratitude is long overdue and a sign that goodness really does prevail.

But respect for each other is equally important. Regardless of our colour, religion, age, gender, nationality or profession, we are all human beings. As individuals, we are entitled to our own beliefs and opinions but we are also entitled to respect from others. Immigrants from all over the world are proud to call Kuwait their home and without them, it would not be the country it is today. Without them, our recovery from this pandemic, from both a health and an economic point of view, would be so much more difficult. Something to remember when emerging from this crisis.

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