Globe in tree leaves

When I first heard about Covid-19 and China’s reaction to close their borders, I was devasted. As someone who’s life mission is to contribute to creating a world without borders, a wave of despair crashed over me. Meanwhile, the virus continued to spread exponentially.   

Now a few weeks later, most countries in the world have put their borders up. Don’t get me wrong, I completely agree with the measures being taken to ensure the safety of people all over the globe. If anything, I think many countries should have reacted sooner by limiting travel and enforcing self-isolation upon return. But hindsight is a wonderful thing, isn’t it?! 

Covid-19 has shown us how globalised our world truly is 

Until recently, travel had become a commodity. As a global population, we travelled both for work and for leisure, locally and/or internationally, anywhere from once in a lifetime to hundreds of times a year. According to the World Tourism Organization (UNTWO), 2018 saw a record 1.4bn international tourist arrivals. For some of us, travel had become even more than a fun adventure. It was a lifestyle, an identity, an addiction even. 

What the spread of Covid-19 showed us, especially when compared to SARS in 2003, is that our world is more connected than ever before. It only took months from what many referred to – wrongly so – as a ‘Chinese virus’ to cross the borders of countless countries due to the simple yet extraordinary movement of people. 

However, our initial response has been more national than global 

This virus affects us all in the same way. It suffocates humanity across borders. However, speaking to family and friends from all over the world daily has led me to realise how different the response has been from country to country. While recognising that there should be stages between the way things were before Covid-19 and complete isolation, I struggle to comprehend why and how these stages can vary so greatly. 

Let’s just compare France and Australia for a moment. Both countries started asking people to work from home around about the same time. Due to the number of cases, France enforced a full lock-down. More recently, Australia began requesting that all returning citizens spend their quarantine in hotels for 14 days upon their arrival. In France, returning travellers are asked to handle their own isolation, often putting loved ones at risk in the process. 

Time has come for humanity to be our top priority 

Having now reached more than 1 million recorded cases of Covid-19 worldwide, it is unfortunately obvious that the future of humanity is at stake in an unprecedented way. It will take so much time and effort from the greatest minds in the world – regardless of where they’re from and where they are – to come up with a treatment and vaccine. So far, there has been some level of cooperation between different countries. For example, China has sent medical equipment and personnel over to Europe. However, these stories have been few and far between in the media.

Something else to consider is the impact of this global health crisis on inequalities both within and between countries. In Australia, many have lost their jobs and are struggling to make ends meet while others are saving more than ever before. Worldwide, some countries are able to test a vast majority of cases when others can’t. A Covid-19 treatment and vaccine could be gold for whoever patents it. However, I hope it’ll become freely available to all from the get-go. After all, we’re all in this together.

Covid-19 has shown us that our planet desperately needs a breather and that – whether we like it or not – our world is more connected than it’s ever been. With this in mind, as a global population, I think it is now time to demand a response beyond borders with humanity at its heart.