Usually, the number 1,000,000 is used in a positive context. Maybe your favourite content creator reached 1 million followers on YouTube or Instagram. Maybe someone earnt a million dollars through their job or through an unanticipated event. Or perhaps a million was used to describe how many people were watching a sporting event. In most circumstances, a million is exciting, positive, and unbelievable. However, in this case, the only adjective that applies is, unbelievable.

Yesterday, the COVID-19 death toll tragically passed 1 million people. In only 9 months, this virus has claimed the lives of 1 million people and destroyed the lives of millions more.

My first emotion is confusion. How did we get to this point? I was cautiously optimistic when writing about COVID-19 back in January. I downplayed the possibility of community transmission outside China and thought it would be over relatively quickly. However, I couldn’t have been more wrong. The virus has continued to increase day by day. I think much of my confusion stems from the fact that we haven’t seen an enormous explosion in infections. Instead, the virus has consistently spread and doesn’t look like stopping anytime soon.

My second emotion is unsurprisingly sadness and disappointment. How do we come back from this? I have been in a very fortunate position during this pandemic. A job, an education, a house, and a country that has relatively minimised the impact of the virus. For others, this virus has left many unemployed, on the brink of poverty and battling to obtain the necessary funds to sustain basic human needs. The immense number of deaths is only exacerbated by the millions, if not billions, who haven’t lost their lives but have lost many things which have deteriorated their quality of life.

My third emotion is hope. How can you be hopeful in a time of loss? I completely understand this question, and I think my automatic hopeful nature may contribute significantly. However, I believe we need to continue to be hopeful, as when we lose hope, we lose everything. Scientists are working hard around the world to find a vaccine, and although it may not be a complete answer to the pandemic, it will provide some form of relief. People are continuing to unite together by supporting each other, wearing face masks and practising social distancing. It’s sad to say, but this new way of life is undoubtedly becoming the new normal, and although it’s not ideal, it’s not the end of the world.

It is impossible to comprehend the damage caused by this pandemic. To the families and friends of the 1 million people who have lost their lives due to COVID-19, we are thinking of you and praying for you. This whole experience has been confusing, and the immense loss will inevitably lead to degrees of sadness and disappoint. But remember, there is still and will always be hope.

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