Four years after Covid-19, these trends and practices still persist
From remote work to mental health challenges, Covid-19 reshaped post-pandemic life.

You might be shocked to know that Covid-19 is still actively infectious, even in the year 2024. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of new Covid-19 cases increased by four per cent from December 11, 2023 to January 7, 2024, marking a total of 774 million confirmed cases and causing more than seven million deaths globally.

Four years ago, on March 11, 2020, the WHO officially declared Covid-19, the viral disease, a pandemic. March break was extended for high school students, a no sailing order was announced to all cruise ships, and by March 15, 2020, most countries had implemented lockdowns procedures. Suddenly, the once vibrant, busy streets of our world became eerily quiet. 

Many of us were able to overcome the initial challenges faced at the early stage of Covid-19 by setting new guidelines, working together, and building resilience. Many of these practices that we started during the pandemic remain crucial and relevant to this day. 

Many people lost their jobs to Covid-19, others lost their precious teenage years, and many lost the chance to see their loved ones again. The impact and effects of Covid-19 left a permanent scar, another tragic chapter in our history books. With how quickly we were all swept up by the disease, there was nearly no time to adapt or learn about the situation. People were forced to come up with new ideas on the fly to survive the unprecedented and difficult conditions implemented by the government.

Even with four out of five Canadians vaccinated with at least one dose, Covid-19 is still actively affecting us and our society today. As of February 13, 2024, there were a total of 4,389 weekly cases in Canada alone, with 78 new deaths. While we humans are changing and improving our health and safety practices every day, Covid-19 is also being productive, worming its way into our bodies by creating new variants. 

JN. 1—known as one of the most recent and dominant Covid-19 subvariants—was first reported in Canada in October 2023, and it is continuing to circulate at a higher level. By December 19, the WHO added JN.1 to their list of Covid-19 variants of interest. The Government of Canada continues to maintain public health measures in support of the Spring 2024 COVID-19 vaccine program. Data on the efficacy, safety, immunogenicity, and new formulations of Covid-19 vaccines are constantly being tracked through clinical trials and real-world investigations. This includes data on the duration and level of protection against circulating Covid-19 variations. The study also considers the clinical ramifications of prior SARS-CoV-2 (another Covid-19 sub-variant) infection, recurrent vaccination, and post-infection outcomes like the post-Covid-19 state.

Despite these alarming statistics, Covid-19 has also impacted our daily lives with some life-changing advancements. When lockdown procedures were first introduced, businesses and institutions had to think of alternative ways to support themselves once they got forced to close their office doors. That is when remote work and virtual learning came in handy. Zoom, a video communication platform, soon gained its fame alongside other video conference tools, by providing companies with a space to hold conferences and educators with a space to teach their students while in the safety of their homes. People were also able to connect socially through screen-playing games, watching movies, and simply gathering online to socialize. 

Use of online platforms for online shopping also significantly increased retail e-commerce sales in 2020. According to Statistics Canada, the share of retail e-commerce sales, as a proportion of total retail sales, rose from 3.9 per cent in 2019 to 6.2 per cent in 2022. During Covid-19’s peak in 2020 and 2021, the shares of retail e-commerce sales were 6.6 and 6.9 per cent, respectively, nearly doubling what they were before the pandemic.

In response to at-home restrictions, universities tried their best to bring student life back to students. At the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM), some professors encouraged student interaction through focus groups and activities, such as Kahoot! quizzes to gamify learning. Student societies also pushed forth online events, like game nights and socials to connect new students to their communities. 

“It was hard to come up with new ideas and try to give students the same experience when school was in person,” Louis Lam, an alumnus of the 2022 graduating class and a past president of the Canadian Asians Student Society at UTM, stated. “We wanted to make sure new students felt welcome. Our first years were so much fun, it’s so sad that they never got the same experience we did.”

Social interactions, travel restrictions, and mental health problems became challenges for all of us. We experienced a pandemic that was more than just the disease. The world learned that not only do we suffer physically but many of us suffer mentally when faced isolation. Anxiety and depression increased by 25 per cent while disruptions in mental health services made problems worse. We are reminded of the importance of mental health once again and how dire the situation was in mental health care. After four years, some of the trends and practices we picked up from Covid-19 stuck with us in our lives today—from small practices, such as hand-washing and basic hygienic maintenance, to the option of remote working. 

Many people benefit from remote work, including young parents, employees with health conditions, and people who work multiple jobs. Technology has since advanced by leaps and bounds, making the remote work process much easier. New virtual reality devices, such as the Meta Quest and the Apple Vision Pro, provided workers with virtual and augmented realities, where they can be speaking and collaborating with colleagues in virtual offices. We have all adapted to these changing times quickly, allowing us to evolve and improve to newer heights.

These trends are likely to continue to endure, influencing our post-pandemic life for years to come. Sanitation and hygiene practices will no doubt continue to be important in preventing the spread of any other diseases. With the shift toward flexible work, remote work will only solidify itself as a staple in most work arrangements.

Reflecting on the past four years, we can’t help but notice how much we have changed, whether it’s personal growth or advancements within society. The community has come together with resilience and adaptability in face of those challenging days, marking a milestone in our lives. Through unity, the world can once again prove that we can conquer any challenges and step toward remarkable advancements, with lessons learnt from the past. 


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