“CRACKS APPEARING IN THE GLOBAL ECONOMY…AS CORONAVIRUS TERRORIZES THE WORLD”
That grim headline is the opening of a program March 25 moderated by the Voice of America’s Greta van Susteren. That half hour weekly Wednesday panel is entitled Plugged In. Ms. van Susteren samples experts’ up-to-the minute assessments of global health crisis endangering millions of lives and challenging state leaders around the world.
As she explained it: “Among the latest and largest events to be affected is the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, postponed for a year.” About 10,000 athletes and 600,000 spectators were expected to visit Japan, which has already invested more than 1 billion dollars in the Games.
Economist Kathy Bostjanjcic, interviewed by Plugged In, was asked if coronavirus also means a global recession. She replied: “Yes, it’s a foregone conclusion. As you reported, the U.S. and China are shutting down large portions of their economies… there’s only so much you can take. Also, Europe now is really also really struggling with covid-19.”
But human health affected first and the poor, the most at risk
Narrator van Susteren noted that 80% of the cases so far have been mild. Young and healthy people are at low risk. But the elderly and people with serious health condition are at risk of fatality. If you have a cough, fever and shortness of breath, contact a doctor and stay away from others. For more information, visit the World Health Organization’s website www.who.int or the Centers for Disease Control at www.cdc.gov.
The Washington Post, also on March 25, reported:
“For the approximately 70 million displaced people worldwide, the pandemic poses a double threat: crammed refugee camps are especially vulnerable to the spread of disease. And national governments, which at the best of times, have limited resources to spare for asylum seekers and migrants, will be even less inclined amid the crisis to support non-citizens.”
The Post’s reporter Ishaan Tharoor added: “When the virus hits overcrowded settlements in places like Iran, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Greece, the consequences will be devastating, according to Jan Egland of the Norwegian Refugee Council. There will also be carnage when the virus reaches parts of Syria, Yemen and Venezuela, where hospitals have been demolished and health systems have collapsed.
“The problem could exist in a lot of beleaguered places — from civil war torn Yemen, where millions are suffering from malnutrition and close to four million live in makeshift camps, to Libya, where locals and migrants cope with the chaos of a collapsed state locked in civil war, to Iraq, where one and a half million people are still displaced in the aftermath of battles against the Islamic State.”
“War-shattered Syria is perhaps the biggest concern,” Post reporter Tharoor continues, “particularly the northwest of the country where fighting continues between government forces and rebels despite a fragile ceasefire… nearly four million people, most of them displaced from elsewhere in Syria, are crammed into a sliver of territory along the Turkish border, which has surpassed Gaza as the most densely populated part of the Middle East.”
Global leaders look ahead
Is there any chance of relief in sight? In a widely circulated op-ed column two specialists in international relief efforts, U.N. Undersecretary for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock and WHO Director General Tedros Adhonom Ghebreyesus, sum up the situation on a cautionary but optimistic note.
“People across the world want to know how long the pandemic will last. The truth is: we do not know yet. The pandemic is still in its early stages. But we can say with certainty that the pandemic’s course will be determined by countries, communities and individuals.
It’s going to take time, it’s going to take solidarity, it’s going to take coordination.”
But the virus can be pushed back. As the two noted specialists conclude: “During this fight, there can be no half-measures. Covid-19 is threatening the whole of humanity. The whole of humanity must fight back.”
As a 36-year veteran of the Voice of America (VOA), Alan Heil traveled to more than 40 countries a foreign correspondent in the Middle East, and later as director of News and Current Affairs, deputy director of programs, and deputy director of the nation’s largest publicly-funded overseas multimedia network. Today, VOA reaches more than 275 million people around the world each week via radio, television and online media. Read More