Love in the time of Corona: the good news
Our news feeds are inundated with despair. It seems that everywhere we look there’s information aiming to scare and incite – the world feels divided and all of us are being isolated.
So in order to brighten our readers’ days and clear away a bit of the gloom, we’d like to share some of the more encouraging and heart-warming stories to come out of this global crisis.
A silver lining in the time of crisis
Not only does the pandemic lead to much online fighting (and even physical altercations in planes and stores), but the seeds of discord sowed across international lines are increasing anxiety and fear and making social distancing and isolation so much harder to bear.
We can’t downplay the gravity of the situation – matters are indeed grave and troubling – but we’d like to share some of the good things this crisis has brought out in humanity. And the novel ways people are cheering each other up and on.
Sir Anthony Hopkins plays piano for his cat
A few days ago one of our favourite film stars, Sir Anthony Hopkins (82), uploaded a clip to Instagram showing his private piano ‘concerto’ for his cat. As many other stars, he has taken to entertaining himself at home in self-isolation.
Caremongering in Canada
Given how many people are fearmongering and acting selfishly, it’s no surprise that the Canadians have stepped up to do the exact opposite. The country has started a movement called caremongering where volunteers work together to help people struggling to cope. They collect and drop off groceries and pharmacy pickups, tech savvy citizens are helping others set up home offices and get online, they are sending free books out and distributing food to those in need.
They’ve also set up a video chat where people in isolation can talk to each other and those living with addiction can get help.
China bans the consumption and farming of wild animals
Given how much the nation has been blamed for the current crisis, it’s heartwarming to know that some good has come of all this. True, we could say this has taken too long – but this is not the time for placing blame – there’s enough anger and aggression doing the rounds.
The Chinese government announced in February that it has placed a temporary ban on the farming and consumption of all terrestrial wildlife of ecological, scientific and social value and that the ban will be signed into law later this year to make it permanent.
Gal Gadot & other celebrities sing Imagine
Gal Gadot, star of Wonder Woman, posted an uplifting message on day 6 of her self-isolation, and several other celebrities pitched in to sing along to the John Lennon song, Imagine. The troupe of celebs in the singalong include Natalie Portman, Will Ferrell, Norah Jones, Amy Adams and more.
South African man makes taxi rank basins with drums
A South African man has used his ingenuity to assist South Africans at taxi ranks with sanitation. The man is using old drums to make basins which can be set up at various locations to help those who still need to travel stay safe.
Another way to keep citizens clean and defeat Corona Virus at the taxi rank pic.twitter.com/4bfrkifRRr
— ETASA (@Munyai_R_Gundo) March 18, 2020
Sam Heughan’s free My Peak Challenge
Outlander star and philanthropist Sam Heughan has made his global movement My Peak Challenge free for all during the coronavirus. The challenge is aimed at keeping people healthy and happy and has now been amended and relaunched as a 30-day self-distancing health challenge.
Sam also offers constant motivation and feedback via his Instagram, Facebook and Twitter channels.
Other fitness platforms are also offering free fitness streaming, including The Daily Burn, Peloton, P90X and 21-Day Fix.
SA government’s debt relief fund
Following the example of several other countries, the South African government announced on 22 March that it is offering a debt relief fund to help small businesses in the pandemic.
In order to benefit from the fund, SMMEs need to visit the platform www.smmesa.gov.za to enrol and will need to demonstrate how the pandemic is impacting them financially to benefit from the initiative. This includes demonstrating an impact to the acquisition of raw materials, labour payments and operational costs.
Italians entertaining from their balconies
The Italians have proven that they’re not letting this isolation get them down.
Videos from across the country have been shared on social media showing flash mob balcony entertainers singing, making music and dancing together. This initiative has since spread to other countries where people
— Coronavirus Alarm (@CoronaTurkeyEN) March 14, 2020
Universities offer free online courses
Given how many students are barred from studies at the moment, the world’s educational institutions have stepped up and are now offering free courses and classes to students around the globe. Institutions offering free courses include the likes of Harvard, Yale, Coursera, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, Brown University, Dartmouth and Columbia.
Some of the courses offered for free during the coronavirus crisis include:
- Algorithms, Part I (Princeton)
- Artificial Intelligence (Columbia)
- Computing Tech inside your Smartphone (Cornell)
- Greek and Roman Mythology (Pennsylvania)
- Fundamentals of Neuroscience, Part 1 (Harvard)
- Animation and CGI Motion (Columbia)
- Linux Basics: The Command Line Interface (Dartmouth)
See the full list of courses here.
Cans With Purpose supports hungry children
South African businessman Brad Stern woke on Monday 16 March with a heavy heart, knowing how many South African children will go hungry now that schools have been closed.
Brad jumped into action and launched the Cans With Purpose initiative which raises funds for the acquisition and distribution of food to the underprivileged. The proceeds will be donated to Afrika Tikkun to distribute at community centres in Cape Town and Johannesburg.
The initiative racked up R25 000 from the public within 48 hours and has since gained support from celebrities like Siv Ngesi, Lee-Ann Liebenberg and Jeannie D, as well as businesses like Pick n Pay, Boxer and Mobicred.
Global Citizen’s Together At Home concerts
The platform Global Citizen has launched an initiative called ‘Together At Home’ which offers virtual concerts to promote social distancing.
Stars who have been featured on the series include Niall Horan, OneRepublic, Chris Martin, Hozier and Charlie Puth.
Watch Ryan Tedder from OneRepublic entertain the world from his home studio on Global Citizen.
3D printed respirator valves
A group of engineers from different manufacturing companies have put their heads together to assist hospitals in the coronavirus fight.
Following a call by journalist Nunzia Vallini from Giornale di Brescia, businesses responded with camaraderie.
Digital manufacturing lab FabLab together with engineering company Isinnova and 3D manufacturing and research designers Lonati SpA put their heads together and 3D printed 100+ respirator valves for hospitals in Italy.
Germany and USA donate millions to SA for COVID-19 response
Germany and the USA have both committed to donate R2,5 million and R8 million respectively to South Africa for our COVID-19 response and testing kit acquisition.
This shows that although each country is certainly taking care of its own, there is still a lot of empathy to go around in these times of need.
See German Ambassador to South Africa Martin Schäfer’s announcement below.
The #Coronavirus is a challenge to all of us. Germany is providing R2.5 mln to SA for test kits. Let’s work together to fight the pandemic! We stand in solidarity. #CoronaVirusSA pic.twitter.com/0UNbo5YPp4
— Martin Schäfer (@AmbSchaefer) March 13, 2020
Russia sends aid to Italy
Following a call between Italy’s prime minister Giuseppe Conte and Russian president Vladimir Putin, Russia has committed to sending eight mobile brigades of military medics, special disinfection vehicles and other medical equipment to Italy to assist in dealing with its health crisis.
Standard Bank offers 90-day payment holiday
In a bid to assist South Africans during the crisis, Standard Bank has announced that it will offer a payment holiday on all student and small business loans which are up to date.
The payment break will run from 1 April 2020 to 30 June 2020.
NBA players covers arena staff’s salaries
With so many people losing their income during this crisis, it’s heartwarming to see others step up to assist.
Among those making an effort is New Orlean Pelicans rookie basketball player Zion Williams who has offered to cover the salaries of all staff at the Smoothie King Center’s salaries for 30 days.
He follows the lead of Kevin Love and Giannis Antetokounmpo who are covering the costs of their own teams’ staff salaries.
Hotels offer beds to the health workers and homeless
With so many people cancelling travel plans in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, it’s heartwarming to see governments and individuals work together to help those less fortunate.
Unfortunately the news that football player Cristiano Ronaldo’s hotels would be converted to hospitals was a hoax, but the news may have others to act on such initiatives. England footballer Gary Neville announced that he would offer his hotels free of charge to health workers while Chelsea FC has loaned their Stamford Bridge hotel to health staff.
California was one of the first to jump to action, with San Francisco mayor London Breed announcing a shelter-in-place plan to house the homeless in isolation in hotels. In the UK, the government’s official in charge of social welfare, Louise Casey, has followed suit and will seek 45 000 self-contained accommodation spaces for the homeless at hotels and other designated venues.
Medical TV shows donate their medical supplies to hospitals
Several prominent medical television dramas have started donating equipment used in their shows to hospitals. Props which are usable by medical staff are being dispersed to hospitals and clinics. This includes masks, gowns, gloves and other materials.
Shows which have donated thus far include Greys Anatomy, the Good Doctor, Chicago Med, Chicago P.D, Station 19, Pose and New Amsterdam.
Distilleries and perfumeries switch to sanitiser
Across the world distilleries, perfumeries and breweries have started using their resources to help out.
Given that these companies use high-percentage alcohol in their manufacturing processes, they’re helping the fight against COVID-19 by making sanitiser and fighting price gouging by opportunistic individuals who sell these disinfectants at exorbitant prices.
Distilleries which have pitched in include Smirnoff, Verdant Spirits, Eight Oaks Farm Distillery and Australian cricketer Shane Warne’s co-owned distillery SevenZeroEight.
The French company LVMH is also using its perfume factories to make sanitiser for hospitals.
Polish confiscated alcohol to be used as disinfectant
Crime can sometimes pay off – but not for the criminals. In Poland nearly half a million litres of confiscated vodka and spirits will be donated to Polish institutions who need disinfectant.
Poland’s prosecutor’s office made the statement on 20 March, noting that the 430 million litres of alcohol will be used to disinfect transport services and indoor spaces.
Cellist Yo-Yo Ma’s songs of comfort for healthcare workers
On 13 March, world famous cellist, Yo-Yo Ma took to twitter to share music that comforts him. The musician has created a hashtag #SongsOfComfort which he’s using to share music which will help everyone – especially healthcare workers – to cope with their anxiety in these trying times.
New Zealand resorts to home gardening
Nurseries in New Zealand may be sitting with their hands in their hair given the countries rush to buy seedlings, but this is certainly not a bad thing. In a world where climate change and industrial farming causes increasing harm to the environment, it’s heartwarming to see the country’s ‘panic buying’ focused on home gardening and self-sustainability.
GardenBarn has stated that they’ve already run out of seedlings, while Big Jim’s Garden Centre has noted their veggie seedlings are flying out the door!
Alibaba’s Jack Ma donates millions of test kits
With all the negative news which perpetuate racism and calling on harm to befall Asian nationals or those of Asian descent, it’s reassuring that we can show them that all people throughout the world are working together in this crisis.
Chinese billionaire Jack Ma has stepped up to donate millions of test kits to other countries.
Ma has pledged to donate 500 000 test kits to the USA, after already donating supplies to countries like Japan, Korea, Italy, Iran and Spain. Ma and the Alibaba Foundation amped up their assistance by announcing they would donate testing kits, masks, protective suits and face masks to ALL 54 African countries to help fight the outbreak.
Ma stated that: “We cannot ignore the potential risk to Africa and assume this continent of 1.3-billion people will blissfully escape the crisis. The world cannot afford the unthinkable consequences of a Covid-19 pandemic in Africa.”
Britney Spears helps struggling fans, urges others to join
Britney Spears took to Instagram at the weekend offering assistance to three fans who need help during the coronavirus crisis. The star asked fans to DM her and promised to pick three people in need – whether they need food, nappies or whatever else.
Spears was nominated by her sister to take up the initiative and nominated Will Smith, Sam Asghari and Cade Hudson to keep the initiative going.
Cape Town Against COVID-19
The volunteer group, Cape Town Against COVID-19 #CTAgainstCorona has pooled resources and help together to assist those in need during the crisis.
The initiative will offer free deliveries of groceries and medication to the elderly and vulnerable and shop owner Abduragmaan Mohamed from Cape Town is offering free sanitary packs to the elderly which includes sanitiser, a mask, soap and liquid disinfectant.
Large grocery chains like Pick n Pay and Spar have also started delivering to pensioners for free.
Using tech to fight the virus
Nividia GeForce has called on PC Gamers to put their GPUs to work in the fight against COVID-19.
Gamers can donate or use their GPUs or CPUs to fight against coronavirus by running software which would expedite analysis and disseminate research information relevant to:
- 14530/14531 Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19 causing virus) protease – potential drug target
- 14328 – Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19 causing virus) protease – potential drug target
- 11741: Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19 causing virus) receptor binding domain in complex with human receptor ACE2.
- 11746: Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19 causing virus) receptor binding domain in complex with human receptor ACE2 (alternative structure to 11741).
- 11742: Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19 causing virus) protease in complex with an inhibitor.
- 11743: Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19 causing virus) protease – potential drug target.
- 11744: Coronavirus SARS-CoV (SARS causing virus) receptor binding domain trapped by a SARS-CoV S230 antibody.
- 11745: Coronavirus SARS-CoV (SARS causing virus) receptor binding domain mutated to the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19 causing virus) trapped by a SARS-CoV S230 antibody.
BBC’s culture in quarantine
The BBC is one of several media and entertainment companies who have chipped in to ease the burden for its viewers during the coronavirus.
Its Culture in Quarantine initiative which runs across UK radio, television and digital platforms will host virtual exhibitions, talks, performances, comedy shows, quarantine diaries and book releases.
Bill Gates donates $100 million to fight outbreak
Two weeks ago billionaire and tech mogul Bill Gates, known for his philanthropic initiatives, announced on LinkedIn that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will be donating $100 million to fight the coronavirus outbreak.
Gates has warned the world for several years that we need to guard against a global pandemic and calls the coronavirus a once-in-a-century pathogen. He is a stellar example of those with wealth taking charge in helping those in need cope in times of crisis.
Keep safe and all the best!
We know this is an incredibly hard time in human history, but it is at least consoling to know that we’re all in this together. We encourage our readers to stay positive, do good where they can and practice social distancing and isolation to flatten the curve.
Our thoughts are with you!