Not everyone can happily say 2020 was one of their best years. So much has happened in 2020 to the point whereby many of us are anxious to see it off.
While COVID-19 has topped 2020's major global 'depressing' incident, there are other events that have occurred in 2020 that have affected a portion of the world or specific regions in varying degrees.
The following are eight major 'depressing' major events that have rocked the world or parts of it in 2020. They have not been arranged in any chronological order based on their severity.
1. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
On December 2020, a new strain of coronavirus, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-COV-2), erupted at the town of Wuhan in Hubei Province, China. The virus transversed the borders of China, slithering its way to virtually every continent in the world.
Originally referred to as 2019 Novel Coronavirus (nCov2019), the contagious disease, officially known as Coronavirus disease 2019 (2019-nCoV), caused by SARS-COV-2, has adversely impacted many countries' economies, particularly developing countries, as they struggle to contain it. The private sectors have been impacted immensely by the pandemic disease leading to many of them laying off their workers.
In its wake, the disease has infected more than 79,000,000 people worldwide by the end of 2020. Out of the infected, more than 1,700,000 have succumbed to the disease while more than 55,000,000 have recovered. The figures aren't exact as some countries stopped testing their people whereas others were limited in purchasing the testing instruments in large quantity.
The host of the virus is not yet known. A number of vaccines have been approved which has led to several countries to order them for mass vaccination. Additionally, drug companies are working on developing drugs to inhibit the virus. Even so, managing the symptoms remain the most effective means of treating the disease.
2. Beirut Explosion
On August 4, 2020, a warehouse caught fire immediately after a large amount of ammonium nitrate stored therein exploded.
The substance, totalling about 2,750 tonnes, was stored in the warehouse at the port of Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, by the Lebanese authorities who had confiscated it from MV Rhosus; a ship which had been deserted by its crew.
The explosion which was felt as far as Syria, Turkey, Israel, Palestine and some parts of Europe led to the death of more than 200 people. An estimated 6,500 people were injured, and properties worth US$15 billions were damaged. Nearly 150 people were permanently disabled, and an approximated 300,000 people were left homeless.
There were extensive damage of properties in the city that included 90% of hotels, and three hospitals that were completely destroyed. Also, several ships were damaged.
Investigations are still underway to establish the cause(s) of the explosion.
3. Shark Deaths
While it's comforting to learn shark attacks rarely occur, it doesn't lighten the notion they have earned in people's minds as mindless-ferocious animals.
The records so far indicate there have been less than 100 yearly shark attacks for the last decade.
In 2020, nine people were killed by sharks - seven in Australia, and two in the United States. Out of the nine, eight were men and one a woman between the ages of 17 and 63.
The fatality rate of shark attacks for 2020 was 15% while for 2019 was 3%. In 2019, there were 64 attacks and 2 fatalities. Starting 2015-2018, the attacks were 98, 81, 89 and 68 while the deaths recorded from the attacks were 6, 4, 5 and 4 respectively.
The attacks mostly occur in United States, Australia and South Africa. There are several explanations put forth for the spike in attacks such as overfishing and changes in weather. In New South Wales, sharks were lured to a beach in Casuarina by two dead whales that were washed up there.
4. The Locust Infestation
Innocent when they go about their business individually, the Desert Locusts change their behaviour becoming one of the most destructive migratory pests when they team up.
A small swarm covering an area of 1 kilometre squared comprises an estimated 80 million locusts which can "consume the same amount of food as 350,000 people, while a large swarm can eat up to 1.8 million metric tons of free vegetation, equivalent to food enough to feed 81 million people."
The locust crisis which began late in 2019 has affected 23 countries by mid-April 2020 in East and North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. It's the worst infestation in 26 years in India, 25 years in Somalia and Ethiopia, and 70 years in Kenya.
In terms of the impact of the locust crisis, the World Bank states, "Without broad scale control, conservative estimates for locust-related losses including for staple crops, livestock production, and asset damages are estimated at US$ 8.5 billion for countries in the wider East Africa region, Djibouti and Yemen."
The international financial institution further notes, "A recent joint impact assessment report by the Government of Ethiopia and FAO estimates that the desert locust outbreak in Ethiopia alone has caused 356,286 metric tons of cereals loss, along with destruction of 197,163 ha of cropland and 1,350,000 ha of pasturelands, with more than 1 million Ethiopians in need of food assistance as a result."
5. The 7.0 Magnitude Earthquake in Turkey & Greece
In 2020 alone, there were an estimated 339,171 earthquakes. "During 2020, there were 8 quakes of magnitude 7.0 or above, 111 quakes between 6.0 and 7.0, 1656 quakes between 5.0 and 6.0, 12449 quakes between 4.0 and 5.0, 38036 quakes between 3.0 and 4.0, and 83301 quakes between 2.0 and 3.0. There were also 203590 quakes below magnitude 2.0 which people don't normally feel," states Volcano Discovery.
On October 30, 2020, an earthquake of magnitude 7.0 was felt in both Greek and Turkey. Turkey was badly affected by the quake as nearly 20 buildings were damaged and/or collapsed. An estimated 116 people died from the quake, and more than 1,000 were injured in the city of Izmir.
In the Greek island of Samos, several buildings were damaged but a church in the island was partially collapsed by the quake. There were 19 minor injuries, and 2 fatalities including 2 teenagers who were crushed by a wall on the island.
6. Mali Coup
On the morning of August 18, 2020, a group of soldiers stormed a Soundiata military base in Kati, located 15km away from the capital of Mali, in heavily armed pickups. They fired into the air which was met by retaliation from the soldiers present at the camp who thought they're being attacked.
Weapons were distributed in the camp before the mutinous soldiers moved to the capital in armoured vehicles. They arrested the President, Prime Minister and other high ranking officials including Minister of Finance, Speaker of National Assembly, and Chief of Staff of the National Guard.
The President was forced to resign which he announced in front of ORTM camera - the state's broadcasting station.
According to one of the coup leaders, they undertook the action to 'prevent Mali from sinking.'
The plotters created a committee that would oversee a political transition.
Four people were killed, and fifteen were injured during the coup.
7) Missile Attack at a Military Camp in Yemen
On January 18, 2020, more than 100 military personnel were killed, and dozens injured when ballistic missiles and drones were fired at a military training camp in the city of Marib, situated around 170 kilometers east of the capital of Yemen, Sanaa.
The Iran-backed Houthi rebels were blamed for the attack by the internationally recognised President of Yemen, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi government was overthrown by the Houthis before it was restored to power by the Saudi-led coalition in 2015. It's alleged the subject target of the attack was the mosque in the camp.
The attack occurred during the evening prayers at the mosque.
The Houthis hold the capital and other major urban centers while the internationally recognised government has its quarters in the southern port city of Aden.
Thousands of people have been killed, mostly civilians, and millions displaced since the intervention of Saudi-led coalition in 2015.
No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack.
8) Bushfires in Australia
Several wildfires have occured worldwide in 2020, but probably the worst one was the Black Summer Bush Fires. The 2019/2020 Australian bushfires which started in July 2019 increased in momentum from December to January.
In its wake, it destroyed more than 3,100 homes (and, 5,900 buildings), burnt more than 17 million hectares of land, killed an estimated 3 billion animals and 34 people (among them, 3 firefighters), and displaced more than 60,000 people.
Amarachi Nkwoada from Imo State, Nigerian on December 29, 2020: