The spread of Covid-19 has undoubtedly altered all of our lives, habits, and behaviour. It has challenged several of our social norms while turning the business and financial world upside down. This is happening as schools and companies are closed across the world, events are being cancelled, people are quarantined in their homes, and there’s a possibility that millions of people may lose their jobs. 
Today the world’s scientists, doctors, and policy experts are looking for a lifeboat. In fact, we’re all looking for news that will bring hope to solving this pandemic. 
Despite all the challenges, the swift embrace of advanced technology is giving many of us hope to set a new normal in our lives. Through the use of 5G connectivity, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and big data analysis, nations and industries are finding new ways to safeguard social and economic development. They are finding new ways to shape a world more suitable to our current needs in which we are sharing information, collaborating, and learning in decentralised environments. Most importantly, these technologies are also being used to protect public health and safety. 
These capabilities have, of course, only been possible on the back of incredible technological progress and innovation — especially in 2019. It was the year the commercial launch of 5G technology took place globally, with several countries in the Middle East being early pioneers. This was supported by national initiatives to foster applications in AI, cloud computing, and related sectors. International companies have also committed to bringing new solutions to local governments and industry, offering the tools that are now connecting our societies in light of Covid-19.
In particular, the impact of 5G technology cannot be overstated. It is not limited to simply downloading HD movies, but includes much more robust capabilities in connecting humans to humans, humans to machines, and machines to machines. 
This has opened new opportunities for industries to develop the quality of their services in a better way, and deal with disruptions like Covid-19 faster. Remote studying, emergency response, digital medicine, remote patient diagnosis, and more are all examples of how technologies like 5G and AI are now being combined for the betterment of our society. At the same time, there’s an urgent need to strengthen the capabilities of telecom networks to deal with the pressures they are facing with the increased demand for data traffic, in some cases increasing by more than 100%. 
In these crucial times, we must optimise these technological capabilities through a unified, co-operative approach. The technology sector embodies innovation and is filled with the resources and tools to tackle our upcoming challenges. It is not the time to put up walls, but rather, to build bridges. 
In the technology world, this co-operation is under threat by a trade war between the United States and China. While those discussions may be far from over, it is simply no longer the time to entertain falsehoods and rumours. No single company or country should be restricted from participating in solutions right now. For example, there appears to be little benefit from the US administration continuing to ban a global 5G technology leader for geopolitical accusations. Politics do not speak on behalf of technology, and these companies have a lot to offer the world through strong research and development capabilities. We are in a time where we need the most advanced technologies to help reduce the risks of Covid-19 regardless of a company’s origins or trade competition.
This is ultimately a time to prevent the Covid-19 situation from getting out of control. Qatar has been vigilant in its response to combat the spread of Covid-19 within the country, taking measures that will ultimately reduce the number of new cases reported. The government has acted quickly and successfully by reinforcing strict social distancing guidelines and regular inspections and sanitisation. 
Partnerships with companies in the private sector are more essential now than ever. By allowing private companies to fulfil their own social responsibility role, and activating communication channels between the private and public sectors, we can all take advantage of emerging technologies to bring things back to normal, faster. 

* The writer is Features Editor
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