In Corona's Clutches
In Corona's Clutches
Last April, as the world was being staggered by and busy dealing with the coronavirus's first waves, I published an article entitled "What Next?". Through it, I tried to shed light on the pandemic’s impact on this part of the world and what is to be done once its dust settles.
My assessment was and still is that coronavirus demands that we refocus our thoughts on reforming the international order and enhance investments in public health, vaccines, medicine, hospitals, and doctors. I called for agreeing to a new conceptualization of the real threats facing international peace and security, whereby epidemics, climate change, population surges, the clash of civilizations, and all kinds of promotions of hatred and discrimination would be classified as grave threats and pressing concerns that the international system must confront in the post-Corona era. Doing so, I still believe, requires articulating a global consensus and developing international mechanisms that reflect an appropriate response to the severe global threats that these challenges have raised.
Despite my preoccupation, during the remaining months of the previous year, with analyzing many sharp and consequential regional and international developments and closely following the controversy that surrounded the second volume of my memoirs “The Years of the Arab League,” 2020 did not want to end without leaving its heavy impact and painful trademark on my health.
I was one of the tens of millions of our brothers in humanity to be infected with the coronavirus, reminding me that every person in our global village can be a victim of its pandemics and universal challenges. This reinforced my deep belief in the singularity of our fates and the fact that we all share a vulnerability to dangers and that we must all be concerned - each of us per their position, ability, and size of their contribution - with putting in the effort needed to strengthen our unity and develop our tools if we want safety and prosperity.
About ten days ago, the severe virus’s trademark symptoms stormed my body; the swab was positive. I began treatment at home until my wife developed the same symptoms. The doctors subsequently decided that we should both be isolated and monitored at a hospital, and here I am. Reports indicate some improvement and that my situation is stable.
In my quarantine and waiting space, where I spend my time anticipating Corona’s counterattacks, I have seen immense solidarity with me. I have had heartwarming human interactions with friends, colleagues, acquaintances, some of whom my memory did not help me to remember what had tied us together once. A few hours before these lines were written, I had received two calls, one from “Abu Tasht” in a far corner of Upper Egypt, and another from Montevideo, in South America. The languages spoken were different, of course, but the sentiments were the same. Leaders, politicians, thinkers, intellectuals, artists, media professionals, diplomats, and working folks from every continent expressed their solidarity and sympathy, either with their voices or e-mails, fortifying my resilience and alleviating some of the pain.
My space is also commodious enough to allow me time to think and learn lessons. Here I am, quarantined and receiving treatment in a public hospital in my country, Egypt, exactly like the others in adjacent rooms. We are receiving the treatment we need and are being followed-up on appropriately. Enhancing the efficiency of national public health services is a critical and fundamental objective. These healthcare systems having the capacity to cope with pandemics is a necessity, and meeting citizens’ expectations in this regard attests to the administration’s efficiency and its ability to fulfill its responsibilities.
The world cannot deal with the novel and ever-increasing and diversifying threats with the same frameworks that have shaped the international order since the middle of the previous century; creating new mechanisms has become a pressing need.
The Security Council and the United Nations General Assembly along with it will be tasked with examining the steps required to strengthen the international system’s cohesion, determine our common grounds, and reach an agreement to establish active mechanisms. Through such mechanisms, the global health system could be reformed, such that its capacity to face global pandemics would be enhanced, and its commitment to its weaker links would be fortified. People and institutions’ confidence in it would increase, and it would become more transparent, and its efforts to achieve its goals would become more efficient. The same applies to specialized UN agencies and regional organizations, which must evolve to play the roles required and meet these objectives.
The doctors expect me to leave the hospital, recover from the symptoms of the coronavirus, and go back to my life and preoccupation in a few days. At the same time, I continue to receive calls and good wishes regularly. Their warmth and genuineness are palpable, and I am grateful for this. Hope never leaves me, and my pleas to God almighty are never interrupted. With that, what the coronavirus has done to our world and its people should not be allowed to pass without examination and review. We should not receive a new pandemic without it seeing a suitable response in terms of solidarity, commitment, and humanitarianism.