Socio-Economic Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic-Role of Clinical Social Worker

Socio-Economic Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic-Role of Clinical Social Worker

Socio-Economic Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic-Role of Clinical Social Worker.

1.0 Abstract

COVID‐19 first emerged in December 2019 in Wuhan city of central Hubei Province of China. On 11th February, WHO announced a name for the new coronavirus disease: COVID‐19; subsequently on 11 of March, WHO declared COVID‐19 a pandemic, as by then the virus was spread over 114 countries[1].

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing an unprecedented health and economic crisis for global economies, including Bangladesh. In the absence of a vaccine or effective treatment, governments worldwide implemented large scale containment measures such as limiting economic activities to the essential. The impact of COVID-19 on the economy of Bangladesh has been transmitting through two main channels: (i) depressed domestic demand and supply disruptions in the local economy, and (ii) slowdown in global economic activities affecting global trade and international financial flows.

On 8 March 2020, the government’s disease control agency, the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) reported the first three cases of Covid-19 in Bangladesh[2]. On the 18 March, 2020, Bangladesh confirmed the first death from COVID-19[3]. Covid-19 is not only threatening the lives of people but also having a serious knock-on effect on the job market, causing unprecedented job losses and restrictions on public life in numerous societies. Those that have been made unemployed have lost their income while people are also more generally limiting their expenditure, resulting in less trade and consumption and therefore a lower demand for goods and services, with very few exceptions. Turning to Bangladesh, for the last nine years the country has boasted, on average, growth rates of around 6 percent, and which even reached a peak of 8.2 percent in 2019. Strong export earnings combined with remittance income covered more than 75 percent of Bangladesh’s import bill[4]. When the current crisis will end, or what the future will look like remains uncertain, but one thing is sure, we will not be going back to the world we left on the on the night of 31 December 2019.

2.0 Introduction

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced COVID-19 as a global pandemic on March 11, 2020. The disease has advanced into a pandemic, started with small chains of spreading, further culminating into larger chains of spread in many countries resulting in the widespread transmission consequently across the globe affecting all the continents[5]. The fatality case of COVID-19 risk is around 1% and that it can kill healthy adults, as well as the elderly people with, existing health problems[6]. According to, 14 May 2020, with the total coronavirus cases rising to 4,490,958, and total deaths 301,616, USA is the worst affected country from the COVID-19 pandemic with 86,098[7] deaths. It took 67 days from the first reported of COVID-19 to reach 100,000 cases, 11 days for the second 100,000, and just four days for the third 100,000[8] [9]. The accelerating spread of the COVID-19 and its outcomes around the world has led people to fear, panic, concern, and anxiety[10], panic buying of surgical masks[11], stigma, depression, racism, and xenophobia. Besides, as there is no medication and vaccination yet, wrong use of disinfectant liquids, methyl alcohols, garlic, lemon tea is amongst the many misinformation to cure COVID-19. Moreover, the fear of infection, quarantine, social isolation, a lack of self-care even leads individuals to suicide. Predictably, any contagious epidemic outbreak has deleterious effects on individuals and society[12].

3.0 Social Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic

Qiu et. al. (2018) studied that the SARS outbreak in 2013 in China had a large impact on society of China. Social panic waved in the society because of a lack of faithful official information, and spread of rumors[13]. Recent outbreak of COVID-19 is also creating panic not only in China but the whole globe as it is a pandemic. Covid-19 also caused a very severe impact on society, particularly in Bangladesh. During the early period of the Covid-19 outbreak, panic surged in the society. Since lack trustful and official information about the case affected and death, people started to believe the rumors which are spread through social media, mobile phone, word of mouth and many other ways. Experts criticized that not enough tests were conducted in the country that has a population of over 160 million[14]. Newspaper reports and social media continued to report about additional deaths of patients with COVID-19 symptoms. Some of the deceased were treated at COVID-19 isolation centers at hospitals in the districts and others were denied treatment, though no tests were conducted to confirm contagion[15]. Since prevention measures of Covid-19 are wearing a mask, washing hands through soap or sanitizer surprisingly the worth of the hand sanitizer and mask were high by the unethical businessman. On the other hand this pandemic also impact on religion by cancellation of the prayers in mosque, temple and churches of many affected countries. Worship through live stream is offered by many churches and temples[16]. Similarly in Bangladesh religious mass gathering are discouraged by the government. Most of the people of in Bangladesh are Muslim and the rural religious scholars protest against this government declaration and people started to gather in mosque and pray for recovery from this virus. This large togetherness of religious people poses a threat for Bangladesh[17]. Not only that the price level also increased dramatically. Since people were panicking about this outbreak and the government of Bangladesh has taken initiatives of lockdown people started to purchase daily necessary abnormally which is the main reason for raising the price of the essential commodities. Prices of hand sanitizers and face masks have increased abnormally. Without giving any explanation retailers hiked the price of masks up to 400%. Though masks were available at high prices on footpaths, most of the drug store was found to be out of stock of masks and sanitizer after the announcement of detecting coronavirus in three persons in the country[18].

4.0 Psychological impact of COVID-19 Pandemic

Psychological reactions of Bangladesh towards COVID 19 pandemic is thriving in propagation to the population with a fear, anxiety, sleeping disturbances, contralateral guilt to one another, depression and suicidal thought that is predicted as per the situations experienced in the raising period. In the rapid raise period, more than one-third of people in China had generalized anxiety disorders, 18% of the people suffered from a depressive illness and similar persons had poor sleep quality. And the majority of them were younger age less than 35 years[19]. This is predicted that the more people learn and think about the disease, the more they are affecting with psychological issues. Studies comment that the emotional impact is mainly a response to fear, the reasons are a few. Primarily due to the viral outbreak, the mortality rate, essential restriction of mobility, insecurity about future, media reports, social media and connectivity creates a social panic. Also increasing number of the attack on medical staffs are creating a sense of “collective hysteria” and spreads fear even in the days of locked down exploding the expected fate of mortality[20]. Secondarily, in a locked down situation, the general people staying in a monotonous, unusual and anxious state at home experiences helpless blaming others to be responsible and slowly progressing to the mental breakdown. The confirmed or isolated cases are prone to have a traumatic experience of fearing to die. The people staying in quarantine can feel bored, alone, anger, depressed, sleeping disturbance and panic that may lead to self-herm, emotional outburst and substance abuse[21][22]. Also, psychological issues may be profound in the close friend, family and relatives of the suspected or confirmed cases. A study in china revealed more than half of the inhabitants reported moderate to severe psychological symptoms immediately after the outbreak, nearly one third had similar anxiety-related disorders and one fifth showed moderate to severe stress-related impairments in their quarantine life[23]. Lastly, there is a profound impact on economy due to locked down situations in the markets, offices and business organizations, restriction of movement and the obligations to stay at home. Majority of the Bangladeshi population is depending on a regular income and they are uncertain about when they can return to work, these are making a confounding impact on their mental health.

5.0 Health impact of COVID-19 Pandemic

One of the first sectors impacted by an outbreak is the public and private system. The most crucial aspect of an epidemic or pandemic is, and will always remain, human suffering and the loss of lives. When tainted by COVID-19, it can cause fever, hack, breathing issues, and in serious cases pneumonia and extreme intense respiratory disorder, cardiovascular breakdown and consequent passing[24]. The numbers of infected cases and death globally are increasing so rapidly. As of 5 April 2020, the number of infected cases globally stands at 12, 04,782, with 64,849 death cases[25].

The number is stunningly high when compared to other similar epidemics in the past; for example, the SARS outbreak in China in 2003 affected more than 8000 individuals with over 700 deaths from 1 November, 2002 to 31 July, 2003[26]. While the virus has already spread across 200 countries and territories, the most affected countries are the US, Spain, Italy, Germany, China, and France. Although coronavirus cases are much lower in Bangladesh compared to the USA, Italy, France and China surprisingly Bangladesh is in third highest position in case of death rate that is 10.22% and first and second position belongs to Italy (12.32%) and France (11.02%). Higher death rate indicates that coronavirus pandemic affects the health sector of Bangladesh adversely and needs more support. Although it sounds that the number of infected and death case is much lower compared to other countries like USA, Spain, Italy, France and China. It provides a clear indication that the gradual rise of infected case is between 4-5 weeks later. In Bangladesh after 5th weeks there are 88 cases are reported. It seems Bangladesh is in a crucial stage and it may be transmitted and effected more cases.

We have entered the crucial fifth week since the coronavirus was first detected in Bangladesh and the rate of infection curve has started to move up sharply as was predicted from the experiences of the other pandemic affected countries. The very low numbers of testing of suspected patients are still not producing the real picture of the situation but it is clear, as the number of tests increases so does the number of newly detected patients. Ironically the infection pattern in Bangladesh is not similar like other countries. Clearly it is not following the epidemiological trend and prediction. In plain language, science cannot explain the COVID-19 in Bangladesh. The Government of Bangladesh has set up and fortified its national and neighborhood observation frameworks to forestall and control ailments and has additionally extended its research center limit. Then again the mental effect of Covid-19 was additionally intense. The trouble was progressively unmistakable among the gatherings of specialists and medical caretakers who were working with patients. Bangladesh stays at high danger of the coronavirus spread as authorities said that Bangladesh’s network with the nations where standard rates of the novel infection happened left it with the possibility of infection contamination whenever.

According to the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) director Meerjady Sabrina Flora: ‘We are at high risk of the coronavirus spread which has compelled us to urgently act to take preventive measures against the spread of the highly contagious novel virus’

6.0 Economical impact of COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 outbreak has already started to affect different sectors of economy. Firstly the immediate impact of the pandemic is temporary shutdown of factories and businesses in an affected country; as a result production is declined[27]. For example, productions in China and some other countries have already been temporarily suspended by many large multinational companies, and transport routes through air and sea to and from China and many other economies have already been closed down, resulting in a partial or full border locked down[28][29]. Barua, S. (2020) studied that the pandemic could affect international relationships by affecting the existing and the upcoming economic programs under government to government (G2G) cooperation particularly between China and other economies[30]. Due to the outbreaks, China backed public projects under investment or aid frameworks have come to halt – as materials and project staff cannot travel back and forth resulting delays or cancellation of G2G aid or investment programs as China and their partner countries. Currently, China has about 7000 projects underway in 69 countries under the G2G cooperation framework, which could have a big hit due to this pandemic[31]. In Bangladesh, Major undertakings like Padma Bridge, Padma Rail Link, Karnaphuli Road Tunnel and the Greater Dhaka Sustainable Urban Transport Project include monetary and specialized contribution from China, the two of which are required to be antagonistically influenced. Beside these, the three prominent sectors of the economy of Bangladesh that are Agriculture, Industry and service sectors which contributed 18%, 29% and 53% to the GDP of the country respectively are adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic[32]. The Asian Development Bank (2020) predicts that Bangladesh will lose roughly $3 billion in its GDP simultaneously work cuts for around 9 million individuals. In particular, in the sectoral situations, the most noteworthy GDP misfortune and employment cuts will be good to go division including money related area, exchange and open administrations by $ 1.14 billion and 2,01,106 individuals separately followed by agribusiness ($637 million, 4,58,000 individuals), the travel industry ($510 million, 50,000 people), development and utilities ($ 400 million, 1.18 million people) and transport administration ($334 million, 67,000 people)[33].

6.1 Industrial Sector

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the supply chain and demand for the apparel sector because of challenges of raw material source and cancelled orders. According to the country‘s commerce minister “More than $2.6 billion worth of orders in Bangladesh‘s garment sector has been withdrawn and new cancellations are coming up”[34] revealed Bangladesh piece of clothing manufacturing plants are probably going to battle to pay some 4.1 million laborers in the area, who are low workers. BGMEA’s site appeared about $2.67 billion worth of requests or 828 million bits of attire in 966 manufacturing plants have just been dropped or suspended, and it influences around 1.96 million specialists so far. On the other hand global production of Cotton is largely dominated by India, China, the US, Pakistan, and Brazil. As demand of cotton in China is declined for their long time lockdown due to corona virus pandemic that resulting demand supply mismatch in international market. Along with this, decrease in yarn exports for India to China will mean an even greater excess supply of yarn and lower prices in the international market[35].

7.0 Role of Clinical Social Worker in COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a heavy toll on all healthcare professionals, including social workers. A significant increase in patients with the added stress of navigating online appointments and/or safe office visits have accelerated burnout and may cause social workers to leave the field. Personal and financial issues can exacerbate the stress.

As the U.S. COVID-19 case count has surpassed 5 million[36], schools grapple with how to open safely and/or teach online effectively. Parents wonder if they can work if schools remain closed. Pandemic-related stress has affected everyone, including individuals in the helping professions. Designated as essential workers[37], social workers have continued reporting to work. The coronavirus crisis can exacerbate burnout, compassion fatigue, and secondary trauma, which affect social workers even in non-pandemic times.

Social workers play a vital role in society, especially in times of public health crises and national emergencies. The social work profession is over 100 years old[38] and during this long history we have been there to support the response to and recovery from world wars, pandemics, global and regional crises and recessions.

In many countries social workers are supporting communities that are affected or fearful of the Covid-19 Virus. Social work has an essential frontline role in the fight against the spread of the virus through supporting communities protect themselves and others through physical distancing and social solidarity.

Key functions of social work at this time include[39]:

  1. ensuring that the most vulnerable are included in planning and response.
  2. organizing communities to ensure that essentials such as food and clean water are available.
  3. advocating within social services and in policy environments that services adapt, remain open and pro-active in supporting communities and vulnerable populations.
  4. Facilitating physical distancing and social solidarity.
  5. As a profession, advocating for the advancement and strengthening of health and social services as an essential protection against the virus, inequality and the consequent social and economic challenges.

In the field of education[40]:

  • Through phone calls or video calls with the reference persons, students in situations of vulnerability must be followed up in order to identify their needs and whether support or protection is required.
  • Schools should be offered the availability of social workers to support students, teachers, and families who require it, providing different means of contact.
  • Social workers should maintain their actions coordinated with the multi-professional and educational guidance teams, assessing in each case the priority and the most appropriate modality of intervention.
  • In the case of exceptional situations, they should go to the homes in person, using the necessary protection measures against contagion.
  • In all non-presential interventions, privacy and personal data protection criteria must be followed for students, families, and teachers. Good practice based on professional deontology, law, and ethics must be followed at all times.

Finally a clinical social worker can help the society through following steps until immunization introduce:

Navigating an Evolving Situation

During a situation like this, one of a clinical social worker’s major responsibilities is to help their clients find the resources and support they need. This can be a challenge with constant changes in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines on staying safe and receiving medical attention. However, staying up-to-date on new agency and government resources being made available to the public can also prove to be very difficult.

Staying informed about the latest updates on COVID-19 might seem confusing at best, but social workers are critical to ensuring clients get accurate information to help them navigate an extremely complex healthcare system and understand doctor or CDC recommendations[41].

Stopping the Spread

While helping individuals and families navigate the complexities of healthcare and community safety guidelines is an important part of a social worker’s responsibility, it is also essential in educating the community at large. Giving clients clear guidance is just the first step.

One important part of that is supporting quarantine and shelter-in-place orders and educating groups about the importance of following them. Another is by teaching fact-based hygiene habits to help prevent individuals from getting sick when they are out in the community. By taking on this role, it is again essential for social workers to understand and know the current CDC and local safety guidelines and be able to communicate their importance to others[42].

Guiding Self-Care

One of the most challenging aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic is the uncertainty. The length and the severity of the virus’s impact is still not fully known, and the development of a vaccine could still take at least several months.

Those who are anxious or impacted by the pandemic might need outside support in prioritizing self care, which is where social workers play another essential role. They can serve as a neutral sounding board, working with clients to develop coping strategies to manage anxiety and provide non-sensationalized information. Whether it’s the disruption to their normal routine, the stress of having children home from school, or being worried about loved ones in isolation in quarantined cities or elder care facilities, this stress can severely impact mental wellbeing.

Cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy can be useful tools in this situation, but with many people working from home and social distancing encouraged, telemedicine and video calls can be a key tool for social workers to use.

For children, healthcare professionals and those with existing medical conditions, a situation such as this can bring even more challenges. Having a personal connection with someone who can guide them through personalized self-care best practices can make an enormous difference in their lives. These can range from common recommendations like exercising regularly and getting plenty of rest to more specific ones such as taking a break from the news[43].

A Community Response

Clear guidance is critical on both an individual and community level. Social workers are essential in offering support to those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, but every member of a community has an important role in helping others and following the CDC’s recommended safety precautions.

8.0 Conclusion

As pandemic just spread in Bangladesh the end of this pandemic is uncertain. In this situation recovery from disease is the main concern rather than considering the economic impact. Overall, the current economic situation may seriously undermine the livelihood of the underprivileged cohort of the population. Lack of access to basic healthcare, knowledge of hygiene and social safety net has always been a challenge for this cohort and the pandemic is likely to increase these challenges, exponentially. The issues that need to be emphasized in the development of agriculture and the benefit of the farmer are the expansion of the sale of rice and flour to the upazila stage at the fixed rates by the government in the open market so that ultra profit traders can’t syndicate and raise unnecessary prices. Keeping an eye on our current most trusted crop, so that there is no shortage of irrigation in Boro rice; Keep an eye on crops in the Haor area so as not to be affected by heavy rains or floods in advance; to increase the supply of agricultural commodities such as fertilizers, fuel oils, pesticides, herbs and other seeds; to give advance instructions to the farmers about the crops to be harvested next season; reduce the cost of irrigation and agricultural equipment; Curing disease of crops; The farmers should be particularly mindful of the fair value of their produce (grain, vegetables, fish, meat, eggs, milk); keeping a watchful eye on raising subsidies in agriculture. The government should encourage pharmaceutical players to invest in their research and development processes to increase their capacity to ramp up production of possible vaccines as soon as possible. Last but not least, those patients in coronas are not deprived of healthcare.


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