The COVID-19 pandemic has had far-reaching consequences beyond the spread of the disease itself and efforts to quarantine it, including political, cultural, and social implications.
A number of provincial-level administrators of the Communist Party of China (CPC) were dismissed over their handling of the quarantine efforts in Central China, a sign of discontent with the political establishment’s response to the outbreak in those regions. Some experts believe this is likely in a move to protect Communist Party general secretary Xi Jinping from people’s anger over the coronavirus pandemic. Some commentators have suggested that outcry over the disease could be a rare protest against the CPC.
Additionally, protests in the special administrative region of Hong Kong have strengthened due to fears of immigration from mainland China. Taiwan has also voiced concern over being included in any travel ban involving the People’s Republic of China (PRC) due to the “one-China policy” and its disputed political status. Further afield, the treasurer of Australia was unable to keep a pledge to maintain a fiscal surplus due to the effect of the coronavirus on the economy. A number of countries have been using the outbreak to show their support to China, such as when Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia made a special visit to China with an aim to showcase Cambodia’s support to China in fighting the outbreak of the epidemic.
The United States president Donald Trump was criticized for his response to the pandemic. He was accused of making several misleading or false claims, of failing to provide adequate information, and of downplaying the pandemic’s significance. Trump was also criticized for having closed down the global health security unit of the United States National Security Council, which was founded to prepare the government for potential pandemics. The Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has been heavily affected by the virus, with at least two dozen members (approximately 10%) of the Iranian legislature being infected, as well as at least 15 other current or former top government officials, including the vice-president.
The pandemic has affected educational systems worldwide, leading to the widespread closures of schools and universities. According to data released by UNESCO on 25 March, school and university closures due to COVID-19 were implemented nationwide in 165 countries. Including localized closures, this affects over 1.5 billion students worldwide, accounting for 87% of enrolled learners.
Low income individuals are more likely to contract the coronavirus and to die from it. In both New York City and Barcelona, low income neighborhoods are disproportionately hit by coronavirus cases. Hypotheses for why this is the case include that poorer families are more likely to live in crowded housing and work in the low skill jobs, such as supermarkets and elder care, which are deemed essential during the crisis. In the United States, millions of low-income people may lack access to health care due to being uninsured or underinsured. Many low income workers in service jobs have become unemployed.
The pandemic has impacted religion in various ways, including the cancellation of the worship services of various faiths, the closure of Sunday Schools, as well as the cancellation of pilgrimages surrounding observances and festivals. Many churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples have offered worship through livestream amidst the pandemic. Relief wings of religious organizations have dispatched medical supplies and other aid to affected areas. Adherents of many religions have gathered together to pray for an end to the pandemic, for those affected by it, as well as for the God they believe in to give physicians and scientists the wisdom to combat the disease.
The impact on personal gatherings has been strong as medical experts have advised, and local authorities often mandated stay-at-home orders to prevents gatherings of any size, not just the larger events that were initially restricted. Such gatherings may be replaced by teleconferencing, or in some cases with unconventional attempts to maintain social distancing with activities such as a balcony sing-along for a concert, or a “birthday parade” for a birthday party. Replacements for gatherings have been seen as significant to mental health during the crisis.