Insight from Dr Stuart Derbyshire – Associate Director of Psychology, National University of Singapore

“The current outbreak of Covid-19 has brought much of our social and work lives to a sudden halt. The economic costs look likely to be eye watering: parts of the hospitality industry – hotels, restaurants, bars – will lose millions of jobs; some airlines are likely to entirely disappear; consumer spending, especially on discretionary goods, is likely to fall to levels not seen in decades. Those economic costs translate into human costs. We are social creatures, who depend on other people.

On our own, we are pretty miserable. There’s not much you can achieve alone. No matter how accomplished, talented, or industrious you might be, you couldn’t create the conditions of your life all by yourself. You likely couldn’t build the device your reading this from, or the printer you printed it from, or harvest the beans for the coffee your enjoying, farm and process the food you will eat later, provide your own medical care, or build your own shelter. And you certainly couldn’t have a conversation about how to do those things better.

Stopping all the activity that makes your life possible might be okay for a short while. It might even be nice. The pace will slow down, we can rest more, avoid conflicts. But the downside is huge. Stopping and isolating is inhuman. Think of all the first kisses that won’t happen, all the final farewells that will be missed, all the first, and last, trips that won’t be taken. Stopping and isolating is destructive. Think of the hospital services that will have to be cut, the research that won’t be done, the new breakthroughs in technology that won’t appear, the new cure that won’t be discovered. Stopping and isolating might be a near term solution to Covid-19 but stopping and isolating is a problem that festers with time. The quicker we move and get out, the better.”

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