The Covid marathon

 
June 30, 2020

As a senior health official in the US has commented, the Covid-19 pandemic is not a sprint or even a marathon but an ultra-marathon. The reality is that ten million cases have now been officially...

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As a senior health official in the US has commented, the Covid-19 pandemic is not a sprint or even a marathon but an ultra-marathon. The reality is that ten million cases have now been officially reported from around the world and many experts believe this number could be far higher in reality. In the US alone, there have been 125,000 deaths, the highest in the world. Alarmingly, the infection has begun to resurface in Europe after a few weeks of respite. New clusters of cases cropped up at a nightclub in Switzerland and in the English city of Leicester, mainly among the Asian community with Britain’s first selective lockdown now imposed in the area. In Poland and France, voters hesitated to go in to cast their ballots for municipal elections, with those in France ensuring social distancing in lines and carrying their own pens. Polish voters wore masks and used hand sanitisers, and in some virus-hit areas were asked to mail in their ballots to avoid further contamination.

In the US, Vice President Mike Pence has called off campaign events in Florida and Arizona, two of the largest and electorally most significant states in the country, where there has been a sudden surge in infections. Health experts in the country are now saying America has lost complete control of the outbreak and has no further means to manage it. There is also concern after nearly 400 workers in a poultry business in the US were found to be carrying the virus, raising fears about the safety of the chicken and other meats they packed. While apart from new cases in Arizona, Florida and Texas, all of which have Republican governors who had opposed complete lockdowns or opened them early, there are also reports of sudden surges in rural states like Kansas. The concern about the manner in which the US has handled the pandemic means the European Union seems set to ban Americans from traveling to the bloc in the short term as it attempts to ensure there is no re-emergence of a virus that is barely under control. New travel rules are expected to be announced this week. It should be noted that the governors of the three large states ruled by Republicans have all come under fierce criticism for protecting their economy rather than imposing virus lockdowns.

It is easy to see now why Covid-19, initially underplayed as a threat by some nations including Pakistan’s federal government, is truly a global crisis. Italy honoured its dead with a requiem concert in the Bergamo Province on Sunday evening. We can only hope that there will be greater success in the daunting weeks and months ahead in controlling a pandemic that appears to have jumped out straight from a horror movie.



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