Revisiting the online shopping, food ordering culture of the pandemic era

By Victor George 

The CoV-2 Virus, known as the Delta Variant, is rapidly sweeping across the globe. This new variant appears to spread faster, cause more severe disease and is more likely to result in hospitalization. First detected in India, it has now reached 132 countries and territories. “Delta is a warning: it’s a warning that the virus is evolving but it is also a call to action that we need to move now before more dangerous variants emerge,” the WHO’s emergencies director Michael Ryan told a press conference.


It was in the Wuhan city of China that first cases of the coronavirus were found in December 2019. It has spread across the globe since then. The latest outbreak in China was first found in Jiangsu in June, and officials blamed the highly transmissible Delta strain for it. Soon after the outbreak, local authorities ramped up nucleic acid screening tests in a bid to detect positive cases at the earliest possible stage. Curbs were also imposed on the movement of people in the region, with long-distance and tour bus routes halted. What is left of economic activities are highly regulated delivery services, majorly those based on food supply. E-commerce platforms and delivery agents who sustained essential services in the heights of global lockdown are back to the rescue. One won’t forget in a hurry how the services of the likes of Jumia led essential delivery services to thousands of homes in Nigeria at the time.


In Africa, 17 countries have reported the Delta variant. The variant is causing the worst wave of COVID seen thus far on the continent. As disclosed by the World Health Organization, the Delta variant has spiked Covid-19 deaths in Africa by 80% in one month. Ghana, South Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe are on the list of most hit on the continent. On Thursday 8th July, the Nigerian government said a case of the dangerous delta variant has been recorded in a traveller in the country. A statement issued by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) noted that the development raises a grave concern. The country has so far recorded 32 cases of the variant in 5 states.


To keep the new variant in check, the Covid-19 Presidential Task Force has warned Nigerians to stick to the existing distancing and hygiene protocols. Failure to abide by these guidelines will result in rapid increase which might lead to another phase of restrictions, and ultimately a lockdown. The latter is what many Nigerians cannot afford right now, as several businesses are just about picking up again from the brunt of the past months.


One of the ways to preserve free movement and economic activities is to revisit some of the online shopping culture of the pandemic era. For those who have returned to their physical shopping culture, it is time to reenact that Covid-19 precaution mood. The likes of Jumia Food provide a wide range of options for groceries and beverages. Partnering with the notable fast food and local restaurants in the country, the Jumia platform offers food shopping options from safety.


To reduce the risk of infections, a report has it that many Ghanaians have switched to shopping for essential items online, on Jumia. The shopping platform also makes available essential items such as beverages, sanitary items, household items,home and kitchen supplies. In addition, the report said groceries are becoming the topmost category where many consumers shop on online platforms such as Jumia Food. The regular vegetables, fruits and other grocery items are now purchased online and delivered fresh ensuring the safety of Ghanaians all over the country.


In some parts of Australia where only about 14% of the population is vaccinated, the third-largest city of Brisbane and other parts of Queensland state are now in a snap COVID-19 lockdown as a cluster of the Delta variant churns up new cases. Residents are turning to online shopping and delivery services for daily essentials. The citizens of Ireland have also been asked to limit contact activities as much as they can, unless it becomes extremely necessary. Using ecommerce services has become a way out, especially for food and other essentials. Recently, China’s leading e-commerce platform for services, Meituan, has ramped up R&D and its implementation of unmanned delivery robots and drones for its food delivery service, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Furthermore, the variant is now responsible for more than 80% of infections in the United States, largely among unvaccinated people, already  fueling new outbreaks in states such as Missouri, Nevada and Arkansas. Also, Ireland delayed plans to reopen indoor dining and Hong Kong restricted incoming flights from Britain, where Delta is widespread. Also in the wake of the fast spreading variant, Italy announced that it would begin requiring either proof of vaccination or a recent, negative test in order to dine indoors, visit museums or participate in other activities.


It is thus advisable on the home front that while we all go about our daily activities, contact limitation and social distancing can still be achieved. There are several offices with a tradition of ordering lunch for staff on the Jumia Food platform. Other companies can take a leaf from this. It saves work time and also helps keep staff safe while at work. Away from the workplace, individuals should also revisit the online shopping culture, especially for groceries and other home essentials. Avoiding crowded places remains key to limiting the spread of covid-19 and its more lethal Delta variant. E-commerce was crucial to limiting the spread of the virus in the heat of the first wave, and still remains a vital tool for all, as we strive to overcome a third wave led by the more deadly Delta variant.

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