|Monday 06th of April 2020
06-APR-2020 : The Way we live now
It certainly is a new c21st that we find ourselves in. There is a
luminous and Fairy Tale feel to life in quarantine and as you know
most fairy tales have an oftentimes dark and dangerous and unspoken
undercurrent. I sit in my study and its as if my hearing is sharpened.
I hear the Breeze, birdsong, Nature in its many forms and the urban
background noise which was once the constant accompaniment to daily
life has entirely retreated. The Nights are dark, the stars are bright
and the neighbiours long gone.
There is a Passage in V.S Naipaul's A Bend in the River
“Going home at night! It wasn't often that I was on the river at
night. I never liked it. I never felt in control. In the darkness of
river and forest you could be sure only of what you could see — and
even on a moonlight night you couldn't see much. When you made a noise
— dipped a paddle in the water — you heard yourself as though you were
another person. The river and the forest were like presences, and much
more powerful than you. You felt unprotected, an intruder ... You felt
the land taking you back to something that was familiar, something you
had known at some time but had forgotten or ignored, but which was
always there.You felt the land taking you back to what was there a
hundred years ago, to what had been there always.” ― V.S. Naipaul, A
Bend in the River
One feels one must tread more carefully now, with a lot of
circumspection, that not just my purchase but all of ours is a lot
more precarious now and that there is something Karmic in this
#COVID19. When I saw a Video of a Pool Party in South Africa, where
everyone was chanting ''Corona Corona'' like a mantra, I recoiled, I
couldn't watch because I thought to myself, You can be sure of one
thing COVID19 will come. The COVID19 is invisible but it has already
defeated the most expensive Aircraft carriers, it lurks everywhere and
in silence and has put down Mecca, St. Peters Square and the Vatican,
Qom and everywhere else that we congregate and ask for succour. It is
not to be trifled with. Boris dismissed it and now speaks to the
Nation like a disembodied voice from a Bunker. [I wrote this before
the news about Boris Johnson's hospitalisation I wish him a speedy
Trump too thinks its another Trade and his luck which took him all the
way to the Presidency will hold out and watching his always surreal
White House Briefing has an added frisson of the waiting for him to
turn yellow. And I suppose we all wish we had an Angela Merkel because
at least then we might have a fighting chance.
Don DeLillo wrote "Everything is barely weeks. Everything is days. We
have minutes to live."
And it certainly feels like we are pirouetting at the precipice and
our Leaders are saying Don't Panic and I want to say ''look Chum You
are not Merkel and just a few days ago You were telling me its all
cool its just the Flu. Others might take you seriously on what basis I
know not but I don't.''
Venturing to the Supermarket is like going on a Safari. You look
around. You keep your distance. You want to leave. You think every
surface is potentially a Killer. You walk around the familiar and it
all feels so unfamiliar.
And what is clear is that we are all in our different but similar
quarantined experiences at an inflexion Point because COVID19 has
brought us all to an inevitable question. What is it all about? Can it
ever return to what it was? As I try and peer through into the Future
the one thing I do know is that its not reverting to what it was. We
are turning the Page here and the uncertainty is because we all know
collectively that's what we are about to do. The book is in front of
us and the page might turn itself but turn it will. The Question is
what is on the next page and I cannot answer that.
What I do know is this. Regime implosion is coming to the Oil
Producers and Trump can game the price a little more sure but its a
pointless exercise. Demand has cratered and a return to a hyper
connected 100m barrels per day world is not going to happen for the
foreseeable future. Putin will survive because he prepared for this
moment. Others are as good as terminated. I also know that we are
about to enter The Great Depression. The FED, The ECB and the all the
other Central Banks can print but at some point it turns Weimar
Germany. Before it turns Weimar Germany, it falls off a cliff in
Emerging Markets. We are watching the Great Decoupling unfold in front
of our eyes, from Brazil to South Africa to India. Twenty years of
good times are now ended. Africa is simply too dreadful to
contemplate. We are weeks away now from collapsing health care systems
and ''blow ups'' in our urban centres. Ramaphosa and Kagame might have
a chance but everywhere else I look, leadership is as clueless as
Trump is in his White House Briefing.
Arundhati Roy: 'The pandemic is a portal' @FT
Who can use the term “gone viral” now without shuddering a little? Who
can look at anything any more — a door handle, a cardboard carton, a
bag of vegetables — without imagining it swarming with those
unseeable, undead, unliving blobs dotted with suction pads waiting to
fasten themselves on to our lungs?
Who can think of kissing a stranger, jumping on to a bus or sending
their child to school without feeling real fear? Who can think of
ordinary pleasure and not assess its risk?
Who among us is not a quack epidemiologist, virologist, statistician
and prophet? Which scientist or doctor is not secretly praying for a
miracle? Which priest is not — secretly, at least — submitting to
And even while the virus proliferates, who could not be thrilled by
the swell of birdsong in cities, peacocks dancing at traffic crossings
and the silence in the skies?
The number of cases worldwide this week crept over a million. More
than 50,000 people have died already. Projections suggest that number
will swell to hundreds of thousands, perhaps more.
The virus has moved freely along the pathways of trade and
international capital, and the terrible illness it has brought in its
wake has locked humans down in their countries, their cities and their
But unlike the flow of capital, this virus seeks proliferation, not
profit, and has, therefore, inadvertently, to some extent, reversed
the direction of the flow.
It has mocked immigration controls, biometrics, digital surveillance
and every other kind of data analytics, and struck hardest — thus far
— in the richest, most powerful nations of the world, bringing the
engine of capitalism to a juddering halt.
Temporarily perhaps, but at least long enough for us to examine its
parts, make an assessment and decide whether we want to help fix it,
or look for a better engine.
The mandarins who are managing this pandemic are fond of speaking of
war. They don’t even use war as a metaphor, they use it literally. But
if it really were a war, then who would be better prepared than the
If it were not masks and gloves that its frontline soldiers needed,
but guns, smart bombs, bunker busters, submarines, fighter jets and
nuclear bombs, would there be a shortage?
Night after night, from halfway across the world, some of us watch the
New York governor’s press briefings with a fascination that is hard to
We follow the statistics, and hear the stories of overwhelmed
hospitals in the US, of underpaid, overworked nurses having to make
masks out of garbage bin liners and old raincoats, risking everything
to bring succour to the sick.
About states being forced to bid against each other for ventilators,
about doctors’ dilemmas over which patient should get one and which
left to die.
And we think to ourselves, “My God! This is America!” The tragedy is
immediate, real, epic and unfolding before our eyes.
But it isn’t new. It is the wreckage of a train that has been
careening down the track for years. Who doesn’t remember the videos of
“patient dumping” — sick people, still in their hospital gowns, butt
naked, being surreptitiously dumped on street corners?
Hospital doors have too often been closed to the less fortunate
citizens of the US. It hasn’t mattered how sick they’ve been, or how
much they’ve suffered.
At least not until now — because now, in the era of the virus, a poor
person’s sickness can affect a wealthy society’s health.
And yet, even now, Bernie Sanders, the senator who has relentlessly
campaigned for healthcare for all, is considered an outlier in his bid
for the White House, even by his own party.
The tragedy is the wreckage of a train that has been careening down
the track for years And what of my country, my poor-rich country,
India, suspended somewhere between feudalism and religious
fundamentalism, caste and capitalism, ruled by far-right Hindu
In December, while China was fighting the outbreak of the virus in
Wuhan, the government of India was dealing with a mass uprising by
hundreds of thousands of its citizens protesting against the brazenly
discriminatory anti-Muslim citizenship law it had just passed in
The first case of Covid-19 was reported in India on January 30, only
days after the honourable chief guest of our Republic Day Parade,
Amazon forest-eater and Covid-denier Jair Bolsonaro, had left Delhi.
But there was too much to do in February for the virus to be
accommodated in the ruling party’s timetable.
There was the official visit of President Donald Trump scheduled for
the last week of the month.
He had been lured by the promise of an audience of 1m people in a
sports stadium in the state of Gujarat. All that took money, and a
great deal of time.
Then there were the Delhi Assembly elections that the Bharatiya Janata
Party was slated to lose unless it upped its game, which it did,
unleashing a vicious, no-holds-barred Hindu nationalist campaign,
replete with threats of physical violence and the shooting of
“traitors”. It lost anyway.
So then there was punishment to be meted out to Delhi’s Muslims, who
were blamed for the humiliation.
Armed mobs of Hindu vigilantes, backed by the police, attacked Muslims
in the working-class neighbourhoods of north-east Delhi. Houses,
shops, mosques and schools were burnt.
Muslims who had been expecting the attack fought back. More than 50
people, Muslims and some Hindus, were killed.
Thousands moved into refugee camps in local graveyards. Mutilated
bodies were still being pulled out of the network of filthy, stinking
drains when government officials had their first meeting about
Covid-19 and most Indians first began to hear about the existence of
something called hand sanitiser.
March was busy too. The first two weeks were devoted to toppling the
Congress government in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh and
installing a BJP government in its place.
On March 11 the World Health Organization declared that Covid-19 was a
pandemic. Two days later, on March 13, the health ministry said that
corona “is not a health emergency”.
Finally, on March 19, the Indian prime minister addressed the nation.
He hadn’t done much homework. He borrowed the playbook from France and
He told us of the need for “social distancing” (easy to understand for
a society so steeped in the practice of caste) and called for a day of
“people’s curfew” on March 22.
He said nothing about what his government was going to do in the
crisis, but he asked people to come out on their balconies, and ring
bells and bang their pots and pans to salute health workers.
He didn’t mention that, until that very moment, India had been
exporting protective gear and respiratory equipment, instead of
keeping it for Indian health workers and hospitals.
Not surprisingly, Narendra Modi’s request was met with great
enthusiasm. There were pot-banging marches, community dances and
processions. Not much social distancing.
In the days that followed, men jumped into barrels of sacred cow dung,
and BJP supporters threw cow-urine drinking parties.
Not to be outdone, many Muslim organisations declared that the
Almighty was the answer to the virus and called for the faithful to
gather in mosques in numbers.
On March 24, at 8pm, Modi appeared on TV again to announce that, from
midnight onwards, all of India would be under lockdown. Markets would
be closed. All transport, public as well as private, would be
He said he was taking this decision not just as a prime minister, but
as our family elder. Who else can decide, without consulting the state
governments that would have to deal with the fallout of this decision,
that a nation of 1.38bn people should be locked down with zero
preparation and with four hours’ notice?
His methods definitely give the impression that India’s prime minister
thinks of citizens as a hostile force that needs to be ambushed, taken
by surprise, but never trusted.
Locked down we were. Many health professionals and epidemiologists
have applauded this move. Perhaps they are right in theory.
But surely none of them can support the calamitous lack of planning or
preparedness that turned the world’s biggest, most punitive lockdown
into the exact opposite of what it was meant to achieve.
The man who loves spectacles created the mother of all spectacles.
As an appalled world watched, India revealed herself in all her shame
— her brutal, structural, social and economic inequality, her callous
indifference to suffering.
The lockdown worked like a chemical experiment that suddenly
illuminated hidden things. As shops, restaurants, factories and the
construction industry shut down, as the wealthy and the middle classes
enclosed themselves in gated colonies, our towns and megacities began
to extrude their working-class citizens — their migrant workers — like
so much unwanted accrual.
Many driven out by their employers and landlords, millions of
impoverished, hungry, thirsty people, young and old, men, women,
children, sick people, blind people, disabled people, with nowhere
else to go, with no public transport in sight, began a long march home
to their villages.
They walked for days, towards Badaun, Agra, Azamgarh, Aligarh,
Lucknow, Gorakhpur — hundreds of kilometres away. Some died on the
They knew they were going home potentially to slow starvation. Perhaps
they even knew they could be carrying the virus with them, and would
infect their families, their parents and grandparents back home, but
they desperately needed a shred of familiarity, shelter and dignity,
as well as food, if not love.
As they walked, some were beaten brutally and humiliated by the
police, who were charged with strictly enforcing the curfew.
Young men were made to crouch and frog jump down the highway. Outside
the town of Bareilly, one group was herded together and hosed down
with chemical spray.
A few days later, worried that the fleeing population would spread the
virus to villages, the government sealed state borders even for
People who had been walking for days were stopped and forced to return
to camps in the cities they had just been forced to leave.
Among older people it evoked memories of the population transfer of
1947, when India was divided and Pakistan was born.
Except that this current exodus was driven by class divisions, not
religion. Even still, these were not India’s poorest people. These
were people who had (at least until now) work in the city and homes to
The jobless, the homeless and the despairing remained where they were,
in the cities as well as the countryside, where deep distress was
growing long before this tragedy occurred.
All through these horrible days, the home affairs minister Amit Shah
remained absent from public view.
When the walking began in Delhi, I used a press pass from a magazine I
frequently write for to drive to Ghazipur, on the border between Delhi
and Uttar Pradesh.
The scene was biblical. Or perhaps not. The Bible could not have known
numbers such as these. The lockdown to enforce physical distancing had
resulted in the opposite — physical compression on an unthinkable
This is true even within India’s towns and cities. The main roads
might be empty, but the poor are sealed into cramped quarters in slums
Every one of the walking people I spoke to was worried about the
virus. But it was less real, less present in their lives than looming
unemployment, starvation and the violence of the police.
Of all the people I spoke to that day, including a group of Muslim
tailors who had only weeks ago survived the anti-Muslim attacks, one
man’s words especially troubled me.
He was a carpenter called Ramjeet, who planned to walk all the way to
Gorakhpur near the Nepal border.
“Maybe when Modiji decided to do this, nobody told him about us. Maybe
he doesn’t know about us”, he said.
“Us” means approximately 460m people.
State governments in India (as in the US) have showed more heart and
understanding in the crisis. Trade unions, private citizens and other
collectives are distributing food and emergency rations.
The central government has been slow to respond to their desperate
appeals for funds. It turns out that the prime minister’s National
Relief Fund has no ready cash available.
Instead, money from well-wishers is pouring into the somewhat
mysterious new PM-CARES fund. Pre-packaged meals with Modi’s face on
them have begun to appear.
In addition to this, the prime minister has shared his yoga nidra
videos, in which a morphed, animated Modi with a dream body
demonstrates yoga asanas to help people deal with the stress of
The narcissism is deeply troubling. Perhaps one of the asanas could be
a request-asana in which Modi requests the French prime minister to
allow us to renege on the very troublesome Rafale fighter jet deal and
use that €7.8bn for desperately needed emergency measures to support a
few million hungry people.
Surely the French will understand.
As the lockdown enters its second week, supply chains have broken,
medicines and essential supplies are running low.
Thousands of truck drivers are still marooned on the highways, with
little food and water. Standing crops, ready to be harvested, are
The economic crisis is here. The political crisis is ongoing. The
mainstream media has incorporated the Covid story into its 24/7 toxic
An organisation called the Tablighi Jamaat, which held a meeting in
Delhi before the lockdown was announced, has turned out to be a “super
That is being used to stigmatise and demonise Muslims. The overall
tone suggests that Muslims invented the virus and have deliberately
spread it as a form of jihad.
The Covid crisis is still to come. Or not. We don’t know. If and when
it does, we can be sure it will be dealt with, with all the prevailing
prejudices of religion, caste and class completely in place.
Today (April 2) in India, there are almost 2,000 confirmed cases and
58 deaths. These are surely unreliable numbers, based on woefully few
tests. Expert opinion varies wildly. Some predict millions of cases.
Others think the toll will be far less. We may never know the real
contours of the crisis, even when it hits us. All we know is that the
run on hospitals has not yet begun.
India’s public hospitals and clinics — which are unable to cope with
the almost 1m children who die of diarrhoea, malnutrition and other
health issues every year, with the hundreds of thousands of
tuberculosis patients (a quarter of the world’s cases), with a vast
anaemic and malnourished population vulnerable to any number of minor
illnesses that prove fatal for them — will not be able to cope with a
crisis that is like what Europe and the US are dealing with now.
People will fall sick and die at home. We may never know their
stories. They may not even become statistics. We can only hope that
the studies that say the virus likes cold weather are correct (though
other researchers have cast doubt on this).
Never have a people longed so irrationally and so much for a burning,
punishing Indian summer.
What is this thing that has happened to us? It’s a virus, yes. In and
of itself it holds no moral brief. But it is definitely more than a
virus. Some believe it’s God’s way of bringing us to our senses.
Others that it’s a Chinese conspiracy to take over the world.
Whatever it is, coronavirus has made the mighty kneel and brought the
world to a halt like nothing else could.
Our minds are still racing back and forth, longing for a return to
“normality”, trying to stitch our future to our past and refusing to
acknowledge the rupture. But the rupture exists.
And in the midst of this terrible despair, it offers us a chance to
rethink the doomsday machine we have built for ourselves. Nothing
could be worse than a return to normality.
Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and
imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a
gateway between one world and the next.
We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our
prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our
dead rivers and smoky skies behind us.
Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine
another world. And ready to fight for it.
Arundhati Roy’s latest novel is ‘The Ministry of Utmost Happiness’
Copyright © Arundhati Roy 2020
The Trail Leading Back to the Wuhan Labs
Law & Politics
But it is a remarkable coincidence that the Wuhan Institute of
Virology was researching Ebola and SARS-associated coronaviruses in
bats before the pandemic outbreak, and that in the month when Wuhan
doctors were treating the first patients of COVID-19, the institute
announced in a hiring notice that “a large number of new bat and
rodent new viruses have been discovered and identified.” And the fact
that the Chinese government spent six weeks insisting that COVID-19
could not be spread from person to person means that its denials about
Wuhan laboratories cannot be accepted without independent
The Coronavirus Is the Worst Intelligence Failure in U.S. History @ForeignPolicy
Law & Politics
Last September, I met the vice president for risk for a Fortune 100
company in Washington, D.C. I asked the executive—who previously had a
long career as an intelligence analyst—the question you would ask any
risk officer: “What are you most worried about?” Without pausing, this
person replied, “A highly contagious virus that begins somewhere in
China and spreads rapidly.”
This vice president, whose company has offices throughout East Asia,
explained the preventative mitigating steps the company had
subsequently adopted to counter this potential threat.
Since the novel coronavirus has swept the world, I have often thought
about this person’s prescient risk calculus.
Most leaders lack the discipline to do routine risk-based horizon
scanning, and fewer still develop the requisite contingency plans.
Even rarer is the leader who has the foresight to correctly identify
the top threat far enough in advance to develop and implement those
Suffice it to say, the Trump administration has cumulatively failed,
both in taking seriously the specific, repeated intelligence community
warnings about a coronavirus outbreak and in vigorously pursuing the
nationwide response initiatives commensurate with the predicted
The federal government alone has the resources and authorities to lead
the relevant public and private stakeholders to confront the
foreseeable harms posed by the virus.
Unfortunately, Trump officials made a series of judgments (minimizing
the hazards of COVID-19) and decisions (refusing to act with the
urgency required) that have needlessly made Americans far less safe.
In short, the Trump administration forced a catastrophic strategic
surprise onto the American people. But unlike past strategic
surprises—Pearl Harbor, the Iranian revolution of 1979, or especially
9/11—the current one was brought about by unprecedented indifference,
even willful negligence.
Whereas, for example, the 9/11 Commission Report assigned blame for
the al Qaeda attacks on the administrations of presidents Ronald
Reagan through George W. Bush, the unfolding coronavirus crisis is
overwhelmingly the sole responsibility of the current White House.
Chapter 8 of the 9/11 Commission Report was titled, “The System Was
Blinking Red.” The quote came from former CIA Director George Tenet,
who was characterizing the summer of 2001, when the intelligence
community’s multiple reporting streams indicated an imminent aviation
terrorist attack inside the United States.
Despite the warnings and frenzied efforts of some counterterrorism
officials, the 9/11 Commission determined “We see little evidence that
the progress of the plot was disturbed by any government action. …
Time ran out.”
Last week, the Washington Post reported on the steady drumbeat of
coronavirus warnings that the intelligence community presented to the
White House in January and February.
These alerts made little impact upon senior administration officials,
who were undoubtedly influenced by President Donald Trump’s constant
derision of the virus, which he began on Jan. 22: “We have it totally
under control. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it
under control. It’s going to be just fine.”
By now, there are three painfully obvious observations about Trump’s
leadership style that explain the worsening coronavirus pandemic that
Americans now face.
First, there is the fact that once he believes absolutely anything—no
matter how poorly thought-out, ill-informed, or inaccurate—he remains
completely anchored to that initial impression or judgment.
Leaders are unusually hubristic and overconfident; for many, the fact
that they have risen to elevated levels of power is evidence of their
But truly wise leaders authentically solicit feedback and criticism,
are actively open thinkers, and are capable of changing their minds.
By all accounts, Trump lacks these enabling competencies.
Second, Trump’s judgments are highly transmissible, infecting the
thinking and behavior of nearly every official or advisor who comes in
contact with the initial carrier.
Unsurprisingly, the president surrounds himself with people who look,
think, and act like he does.
Yet, his inaccurate or disreputable comments also have the remarkable
ability to become recycled by formerly honorable military,
intelligence, and business leaders.
And if somebody does not consistently parrot the president’s
proclamations with adequate intensity, they are fired, or it is leaked
that their firing could be imminent at any time—most notably the
recent report of the president’s impatience with the indispensable
Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and
And, third, the poor judgments soon contaminate all the policymaking
arms of the federal government with almost no resistance or even
Usually, federal agencies are led by those officials whom the White
House believes are best able to implement policy. These officials have
usually enjoyed some degree of autonomy; not under Trump.
Even historically nonpartisan national security or intelligence
leadership positions have been filled by people who are ideologically
aligned with the White House, rather than endowed with the experience
or expertise needed to push back or account for the concerns raised by
career nonpolitical employees.
Thus, an initial incorrect assumption or statement by Trump cascades
into day-to-day policy implementation.
The same Post report featured the following stunning passage from an
anonymous U.S. official: “Donald Trump may not have been expecting
this, but a lot of other people in the government were—they just
couldn’t get him to do anything about it. The system was blinking
That latter passage is an obvious reference to that aforementioned
central finding of the 9/11 Commission Report.
Given that Trump concluded early on that the coronavirus simply could
not present a threat to the United States, perhaps there is nothing
that the intelligence community, medical experts employing
epidemiological models, or public health officials could have told the
White House that would have made any difference.
Former National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger is reputed to have
said after an intelligence community warning went unrecognized, “You
warned me, but you didn’t convince me.” Yet, a presidential brain
trust wholly closed off to contrarian, though accurate, viewpoints is
incapable of being convinced.
The White House detachment and nonchalance during the early stages of
the coronavirus outbreak will be among the most costly decisions of
any modern presidency.
These officials were presented with a clear progression of warnings
and crucial decision points far enough in advance that the country
could have been far better prepared. But the way that they squandered
the gifts of foresight and time should never be forgotten, nor should
the reason they were squandered:
Trump was initially wrong, so his inner circle promoted that wrongness
rhetorically and with inadequate policies for far too long, and even
today. Americans will now pay the price for decades.
a monstrous Joke of sycophancy. #COVID19
Law & Politics
The Tsinghua University professor Xu Zhangrun said this about the CCP
What is thriving, however, is all that ridiculous ―Red Culture &
nauseating adulation that system heaps on itself via shameless
pro-Party hacks who chirrup hosannahs at every turn
The Professor could equally have been speaking about the Trump White House.
the military optics of Moscow's aid mission to Italy, dubbed From Russia with Love @CodaStory @LaStampa
Law & Politics
“This is a half-propaganda, half-intelligence operation,” said Sergio
Germani, director of the Gino Germani Institute for Social Sciences
and Strategic Studies, a Rome-based think tank.
Germani, who researches Russia’s role in Italy, says Moscow is using
the Covid-19 outbreak “to strengthen anti-EU feelings and to reinforce
the impression that the EU is crumbling, to make propaganda gains and
gather intelligence at the heart of NATO.”
After a telephone call between Putin and Italian Prime Minister
Giuseppe Conte late last month, during which he accepted Russia’s
offer of humanitarian aid, Russian media went into overdrive,
applauding Moscow for stepping in “where Europe and NATO failed,”
accompanied by footage of a military convoy carrying 122 personnel and
decontamination equipment to Bergamo, the center of Italy’s epidemic.
In response to a La Stampa article on March 24 reporting that 80% of
Russian supplies are of little use to Italy, the Kremlin published a
list of equipment delivered to Italy: 600 ventilators and 326,000
masks, as well as military decontamination equipment.
However, two sources inside the Italian military have now backed the
assertion that most of the aid is superfluous to the country. Italy is
reputed to have some of the best nuclear, biological and chemical
capabilities within NATO.
“If NBC [nuclear, biological and chemical] assets were needed in
Bergamo, why were they not used already a month ago? And then, why not
use the Italian ones? Our army has perhaps the best NBC troops in
NATO,” said Italy’s former defense spokesman Andrea Armaro.
Russia now has its NBC officers stationed in Bergamo, the epicenter of
Italy’s outbreak with more than 8,800 coronavirus cases. Italy has
lost more people to Covid-19 than any other country –13,155 deaths as
of Thursday, about a fourth of the global total.
“Russia and China both have been using the pandemic as an opportunity
to project their soft power,” said Rose Gottemoeller, former NATO
Deputy Secretary General. “That is understandable because that is what
they like to do.”
“The significance of what’s happening with the Russians in Bergamo is
being lost in the panic and noise that this crisis has created,” said
a senior European diplomat, who asked not to be identified.
Russian media, in the meantime, is amplifying the genuine gratitude
many Italians feel. One video that has been especially prevalent on
Russian television shows an Italian man taking down an EU flag and
replacing it with a Russian tricolor. He then holds up a sign saying,
“Thank you Putin. Thank you, Russia.”
2-SEP-2019 :: the China EM Frontier Feedback Loop Phenomenon. #COVID19
China EM Frontier Feedback Loop Phenomenon. This Phenomenon was
positive for the last two decades but has now undergone a Trend
The Fall-out is being experienced as far away as Germany Inc. The ZAR
is the purest proxy for this Phenomenon.
African Countries heavily dependent on China being the main Taker are
also at the bleeding edge of this Phenomenon.
This Pressure Point will not ease soon but will continue to intensify.
Threat of catastrophe stalks developing world @FT
Wara Mendoza sells remote controls in El Alto, a sprawling and
impoverished satellite city of the Bolivian administrative capital, La
Her mother hawks salteña meat pies in the outdoor market and her
father drives a taxi along its rutted streets.
Now, with armoured vehicles in the neighbourhood imposing a lockdown,
none of her family is supposed to be outside.
After weeks in which prosperous countries from Italy to the US have
battled both the pandemic and its economic fallout, the fight against
coronavirus is moving to a new front.
Across Africa, Latin America and much of Asia, governments with far
less firepower than their western counterparts are figuring out how to
keep the pandemic at bay and their economies afloat.
It is not clear they can do both. With Europe and the US, the virus
arrived first, forcing a public health response, and then — as the
enormity of the crisis struck home — a massive fiscal and monetary
In much of the developing world, the sequence has happened in reverse,
with the economic devastation of coronavirus arriving before the
States that were already financially stretched have been hit by the
sudden stop of global economic activity, depriving them of the
wherewithal to mount anything like a western-style response.
Oil exporters in Africa and Latin America have watched the price of
Brent crude collapse from $70 a barrel in January to less than $30
this week, leaving their budgets in tatters.
“I understand the fight against coronavirus, but it is hard to enforce
in a place where we need to go to sell every day in order to eat,”
says the 25-year-old, who is one of millions of Bolivian workers
struggling to survive as the informal economy lurches to a standstill.
Emerging market assets have been dumped on a scale never seen before.
According to the Institute of International Finance, foreign investors
have withdrawn $95bn from stocks and bonds since they woke up to the
crisis on January 21.
That is four times the outflows in the same period after the start of
the 2008 global financial crisis.
As capital is pouring out, remittances — the lifeblood of economies
from the Philippines to Nigeria — are dwindling.
Many foreign workers in western cities, especially those working as
hotel staff, chefs or drivers, have lost their jobs.
It does not stop there. With flights cancelled, Kenyan farmers can no
longer sell cut flowers or mange touts to European supermarkets.
Tourism has collapsed. Sites such as Machu Picchu in Peru are closed.
East Africa’s game parks are deserted. In Thailand, keepers say that
without tourist revenue to pay for food their elephants risk
Mr Modi gave no warning of the impending lockdown, making it
impossible for businesses to maintain even skeletal operations. That
has ruptured supply chains for essential items such as food and
pharmaceuticals, soap and disinfectant.
Capital Economics forecasts that India, with its 1.4bn people, will
grow at just 1 per cent in 2020 — that would be its worst performance
in four decades.
Even in Brazil, where President Jair Bolsonaro has scoffed at the
virus as a mere “sniffle”, governors in regions covering 200m of the
country’s 210m people are closing non-essential businesses and calling
on people to stay home.
India was already in a protracted slowdown when the country’s
coronavirus caseload began to climb at the start of March. But Prime
Minister Narendra Modi’s abrupt decision to impose a 21-day nationwide
curfew has thrown the economy into a tailspin.
After the economic crisis came the virus itself. Africa, which had
practically no cases a month ago, now has more than 7,000, with
clusters of infections in almost every one of its 54 countries.
Cases in Brazil alone quadrupled in the past week to more than 8,000.
While that is still behind Europe and the US, the numbers are rising
rapidly and public health experts worry the pandemic could tear
through tightly packed slums and informal settlements in some cities.
Nor do poorer countries have robust health systems. Africa is the
worst off. Governments on the continent spend an average per capita of
$12 a year on health compared with $4,000 in the UK, according to the
“Everybody is talking about ventilators,” says Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a
former Nigerian finance minister. “I hear some countries have less
Some experts hope that generally younger populations will limit the
number of fatalities. Africa has a median age of 19.4 against 40 in
Europe. Of the continent’s 1.2bn people, only about 50m are over 60.
In India, the median age is 27. In Latin America, 31.
There is also speculation that the virus might spread more slowly in
hot and humid climates, though evidence for this is patchy.
Set against that are the number of people who are malnourished or
whose immune systems are compromised by HIV and other conditions,
especially in Africa.
That could mean the death rate is actually higher. Bill Gates has
warned that 10m people could die in Africa if the virus is not
contained, while Imperial College London estimated the global death
toll — which at the moment is under 60,000 — would have reached 40m
had the world not responded.
That leaves developing countries struggling to figure out how to
balance the public health response with the risk of economic collapse.
Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa’s president, last week imposed a
three-week lockdown before a single coronavirus death.
In Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, authorities have stopped short of a full
lockdown, instead imposing social distancing and a nightly curfew.
Patrick Gathara, a Kenyan political cartoonist, wonders if a
western-style shutdown is sustainable or whether people will rebel.
“It’s all very well to say lockdown, but what does it mean if people
are starving in their houses?” he asks.
Dele Olojede, a Nigerian Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist now living
in South Africa, says he understands the dilemma. “In shantytowns or
townships people don’t have the wherewithal to stockpile food and
social isolation is physically impossible,” he says. Yet he still
thinks that lockdowns of limited duration may help buy time.
He has been impressed at the decisiveness of the South African
government, which last week sent out a fleet of 67 shiny white
coronavirus-testing vans capable of processing results in 45 minutes.
In Nigeria, which was quick to snuff out an Ebola outbreak in 2014,
authorities were carefully scanning patients at Lagos airport in
February when travellers were still breezing unchecked through US
Still, Ricardo Hausmann, a Venezuelan development economist at Harvard
University, is not holding out great hope. “The situation in the
advanced economies is likely to be much more benign than what
developing countries are facing.”
Ms Okonjo-Iweala, now chair of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, says the
health and economic impacts are intertwined: “If we don’t deal
appropriately with the health part, the economics are going to fall
She is impressed by the range of measures mustered on her own
continent, including emergency spending, tax cuts and experiments with
quantitative easing. Some African countries are planning mobile money
transfers to people struggling to survive.
“But if you look at the extent of the measures they’ve taken, it’s
about 0.8 per cent of gross domestic product,” she says.
“They don’t have the fiscal space to be able to do very much. For
these countries to come out of it, you need to look at something like
a stimulus in the range of those mounted in the west — say 10 per cent
Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the IMF, estimates that
emerging countries may need as much as $2.5tn in support.
If the magnitude of the crisis for developing countries is far worse
than in 2008, so far the international response has been less
Rich countries have battened down the hatches as they fight the
pandemic themselves. The US and China, the two global superpowers,
have bickered over the cause and origin of the global spread,
hampering an international response.
The IMF has taken some action, making $50bn available in quick-release
funds for which 85 countries have already applied. Unctad, the UN’s
trade and development agency, is calling for an immediate issuance of
$1tn in new special drawing rights, a proxy for foreign reserves, and
for the richest countries to pool their allocations and make them
available to the poorest.
Richard Kozul-Wright, Unctad’s director of development strategies,
says advanced economies should see this not as a humanitarian gesture
but as an act of self-insurance.
“If the outbreak really does catch hold in the south, there’s no way
the advanced economies will be able to stop the blowback.”
Vera Songwe, executive secretary of the UN Economic Commission for
Africa, worries that food inflation could spark riots across the
developing world. She is disappointed with the global response.
“If we need an example of what the lack of multilateralism looks like,
we’re seeing it today,” she says. “If one of us has the virus, all of
us have it.”
Mr Hausmann says developing economies have been left in the lurch both
in terms of their ability to fight the pandemic and to counter its
Even in the best of times, he says, they are financially stretched.
“And these,” he points out, “are not the best of times''
Bodies on the sidewalk: Ecuador city becomes grim coronavirus warning for region @MiamiHerald
Pedro Zavala, a paramedic in the Ecuadorian town of Machala, was
rushing to the country’s largest city on Thursday carrying precious
cargo: a portable ventilator.
It was the second time this week that Zavala had made the 120-mile
drive to Guayaquil, which has become the epicenter of Ecuador’s
“Hospitals are running out of everything,” Zavala said in a telephone
interview. “People are looking for oxygen tanks, respirators,
ventilators, masks, anything.”
Guayaquil, a steamy coastal city of 2.3 million people, has been hit
harder by the coronavirus than almost any other metropolitan area in
Images shared on social media show coughing patients languishing
outside of overcrowded hospitals, people slumped on the street dying.
The city has been overwhelmed, said Guayaquil Mayor Cynthia Viteri,
who has also tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
“What’s happened with our healthcare system? They’re not taking the
dead out of the houses, they’re leaving them on the sidewalk,” she
said on Facebook.
“Families are wandering the city knocking on doors hoping a hospital
will take them in, but there are no more beds.”
The city has raided a $10 million dollar fund set aside to celebrate
Guayaquil’s bicentennial to buy 50,000 additional rapid test kits, 40
portable ventilators and 20 ICU ventilators.
It has also brought in four refrigerated trucks to handle the overflow
The macabre scenes have made Guayaquil something of a warning for Latin America.
Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele, who has taken some of the region’s
most dramatic measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus, said the
scenes from Ecuador should be a wake-up call.
“They said the pandemic wouldn’t hit Latin America so hard because
we’re used to illnesses, because it’s hot, because the population is
young, etc, etc,” he wrote on Twitter.
“Look at what’s happening in Ecuador. If you don’t see yourself
reflected in the mirror of Italy, Spain or New York, look at yourself
in that one.”
Ecuador has one of the highest infection rates in all of Latin
America, but the virus has been particularly cruel to Guayas, the
province that is home to Guayaquil.
Of Ecuador’s 2,240 cases, 1,563 of them are in Guayas. If that single
province were a country, it would have more coronavirus cases than
every other nation in Latin America except Brazil and Chile, according
to Pan American Health Organization data.
The country’s next largest outbreak is in Pichincha, where the
capital, Quito, is located. But it only has 211 confirmed cases,
according to the Ministry of Health.
Why the dramatic difference? Part of the problem seems to be
unfortunate timing, public health officials said.
Guayaquil and Quito have different school calendars. In Guayaquil and
along the coast, children were on vacation until after the Easter
Many families were traveling in Europe and the United States, where
the virus was spreading, officials said.
And the streets of Guayaquil were a festive breeding ground, said Zavala.
“Everybody was partying, schools and universities were out, and they
were celebrating carnival and were getting ready for Holy Week,” he
said. “People were on the beaches and on the streets, everywhere.”
In Quito and the highlands, by comparison, school was in session and
it was business as usual — there was natural social distancing taking
Health Minister Juan Carlos Zevallos said that Guayaquil and Quito
detected their first cases of the coronavirus around the same time,
but while the population of Quito was generally compliant with the
quarantine and other social-distancing measures
“a group of people [in Guayaquil] didn’t listen and we had an
explosion in the viral load,” he said. “Now we have 10 times fewer
cases in Quito than in Guayaquil.”
The spike in deaths — and generalized fear of dealing with the bodies
— created its own crisis, said Jorge Wated, the government’s point man
on the coronavirus in Guayas.
“The funeral homes have collapsed and the cemeteries have collapsed,”
he said. “Now the government, for the first time that I can remember,
has taken on the job of picking up bodies.”
Wated said he estimated there were still about 100 corpses in
Guayaquil that needed collecting, but the administration’s goal is to
clear bodies out within 24 hours.
It took Diego Diaz Chamba, a resident of Guayaquil, five days to bury
his 79-year-old mother, Elsa Maria Chamba. She died of cardiac arrest
after a series of small strokes, unable to get admission into clogged
“They told us the hospital was for the COVID-19 patients,” Diaz said
in a telephone interview.
Over a period of days, Chamba’s sons tried to buy tanks of oxygen to
keep her alive, seeing the price rise from $20 to $60 to simply
Once she died, funeral homes weren’t picking up the phone. At the
cemetery there were long lines just to get on a waiting list to be
“Every day it’s getting worse,” Diaz said. “We see them burning bodies
on the street. Nobody is picking them up at the houses. ... The only
option is to leave their loved ones on the street or at the hospital
[if they died there].”
Maria Alexandra Torres, who works in finance and insurance in
Guayaquil, described a city on the brink.
“The funeral homes don’t want to receive cadavers. The ambulances
aren’t moving to pick them up,” she said in a voicemail message,
describing bodies left outside in humid 90 F temperatures and saying
she and others are seeing “things you couldn’t imagine. There is an
absolute lack of control by the government.”
Responding to reports — and widely circulated videos — of bodies being
burned on the street, officials said there was no evidence that it had
happened. One widely shared video showed a man burning tires — not
bodies, they said.
But with a 4 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew in place for Guayas, rumors and
worries run rampant. And there’s the widespread impression that the
true numbers of the sick and the dead are higher.
“We are in no man’s land,” said David Zambrano, a real estate agent
and musician in Guayaquil. “It’s an insult to our intelligence to
think that the government is telling the truth about official
Ecuador was among the first countries to lock down its borders and
halt international flights. Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno declared
a state of emergency on March 11, and days later imposed a curfew,
canceled schools and ordered people to stay home.
But the population has often chafed at the rules — particularly along
the coast, according to government figures.
During a national speech last week, Moreno blasted those who were
still flouting social-distancing laws.
“It’s a crime, it’s terrorism,” he said of those ignoring the rules.
“One or many lives will be lost due to your irresponsibility.”
Zavala, the paramedic, said the coronavirus crisis is playing out in
strange ways. Some of the deaths being reported have nothing to do
with the coronavirus, but are patients who fled hospitals for fear of
getting the contagious disease only to die at home.
“The truth is, things are very complicated here,” he said. “This is hard.”
Sub Saharan Africa
Africa Faces an 'Existential Threat' as Virus Cases Spread @AP @nytimes
Some African countries will have more than 10,000 coronavirus cases by
the end of April, health officials projected Thursday, as the
continent least equipped to treat serious infections has an “enormous
gap” in the number of ventilators and other critical items.
While cases across Africa are now above 6,000 at what has been called
the dawn of the outbreak, the continent is "very, very close" to where
Europe was after a 40-day period, the head of the Africa Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. John Nkengasong, told reporters.
The virus “is an existential threat to our continent,” he said. All
but four of Africa's 54 countries have cases after Malawi on Thursday
reported its first, and local transmission has begun in many places.
Nkengasong said authorities are "aggressively" looking into procuring
equipment such as ventilators that most African countries desperately
need, and local manufacturing and repurposing are being explored.
"We’ve seen a lot of goodwill expressed to supporting Africa from
bilateral and multilateral partners," but "we still have to see that
translate into concrete action," he said.
The World Health Organization doesn’t know how many ventilators are
available across Africa to help those in respiratory distress,
regional director Dr. Matshidiso Moeti told reporters.
“We are trying to find out this information from country-based
colleagues. ... What we can say without a doubt is there is an
Some countries have only a few ventilators. Central African Republic
has just three.
A small percentage of people who are infected will need ventilators
and about 15% may need intensive care, said WHO official Dr. Zabulon
The health officials pleaded for global solidarity at a time when even
some of the world’s richest countries are scrambling for basic medical
needs, including face masks.
“Countries like Cameroon just reached out yesterday, Ivory Coast,
Burkina Faso, asking, ‘Look, we need tents because we’re running out
of hospital beds already,’” Nkengasong said
Even if equipment is obtained, getting them to countries is a growing
challenge with Africa’s widespread travel restrictions, though
countries have made exceptions for cargo or emergency humanitarian
Simply gauging the number of coronavirus cases in Africa is a
challenge, even in South Africa, the most developed country on the
continent, where authorities have acknowledged a testing backlog.
Other countries suffer from the widespread shortage of testing kits or
swabs, though 43 countries in the WHO Africa sub-Saharan region now
have testing capability, up from two in early February.
As more African countries impose lockdowns, both the WHO and Africa
CDC expressed concern for the millions of low-income people who need
to go out daily to earn their living.
That’s a “huge challenge,” Moeti said, noting that hundreds of
thousands of children are now out of school as well.
It is too soon to tell how the lockdown in places like South Africa
has affected the number of cases, she added.
The lockdowns are causing unease. Police herded several hundred
homeless people into a stadium in South Africa's capital, Pretoria,
where tents were erected for shelter and methadone was provided for
There were complaints about the lack of sanitizer or soap.
The first sub-Saharan African nation to impose a lockdown, Rwanda, has
now extended it by two weeks, a sign of what might be to come for
other nations. Botswana imposed its own, effective Friday.
“Don’t lock down the whole country,” Nkengasong said. “Lock down
cities or communities where there’s extensive community transmission
so .. social harm is minimized. But if infection is spreading across
the entire country, you have no choice.”
Health experts in Africa are rushing to understand whether factors
such as Africa’s youthful population — some 70% of the continent’s
people are under age 30 — will be a benefit in fighting off the virus
and how the widespread problems of malnutrition, HIV, tuberculosis and
malaria might affect people’s ability to fight off infection.
“Our greatest fear” is that programs tackling those perennial issues
will be sapped by the current crisis, Nkengasong said. “The time to
advocate for those programs is not when COVID is over. The time is
Dr. Meredith McMorrow, Medical Officer in the U.S. Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention’s influenza division, acknowledged to reporters
that the U.S. is “suffering right now” and that limits the U.S.
ability to respond with overseas aid.
But she said the U.S. is helping African nations procure overseas
equipment “as rapidly as possible.”
The latest African nation to report its first virus death was Zambia.
Coronavirus in Africa, il medico italiano che va in Etiopia: Li sara un'ecatombe @Corriere
«Possiamo metterla ai voti, questa scelta di partire?», ha chiesto
infine una delle figlie. No, ha risposto lui, «sennò anche i nipotini
dovrebbero votare e a quel punto…» A quel punto sarebbe stato ancora
più difficile andare fino in fondo nella decisione di partire per il
viaggio verso l’ignoto forse più ignoto di tutta la sua vita. E così,
l’altro giorno, il medico Giovanni Putoto ha preso il volo della
Ethiopian Airlines per Addis Abeba. Unico passeggero a bordo. Unico.
Nel vuoto di un Boeing dalla grandezza spropositata. In tempi normali
pieno zeppo di passeggeri che vanno e vengono dall’Europa verso uno
degli Stati che più rapidamente si stanno sviluppando al mondo.
Un posto in terapia intensiva ogni milione di abitanti
La paura del coronavirus ha contagiato ormai tutti prima ancora che il
virus stesso. E tutti sanno quello che il dottor Putoto sa forse
meglio di tutti: se il Covid-19 scoppia in Africa, «sarà un’ecatombe».
Per capirci: «In tutto il continente i letti per la terapia intensiva
sono uno per ogni milione di abitanti. Siamo sull’orlo del baratro».
Le hostess gli si sono premurosamente avvicinate a distanza di
sicurezza. Tutte con la mascherina. «Il signore desidera qualcosa?»
No, grazie: «Ho preferito non correre rischi. Non toccare nulla… Ci
siamo parlati con gli occhi. Poi il personale è andato davanti in
business. Io sono rimasto verso la coda. Solo. Senza mai abbassarmi la
mascherina. Mi sono guardato la serie de “Il signore degli anelli”. Ci
siamo rivisti, con l’equipaggio, solo all’uscita». Dove c’era un
poliziotto che ha condotto il passeggero a un pulmino diretto verso un
albergo del centro. Quarantena: «Era nei patti. Mi avrebbero accettato
in Etiopia solo se mi fossi sottoposto all’arrivo, prima di andare a
Wolisso e in altri ospedali, all’isolamento totale per due settimane».
Sospira: «Questo virus è una bestia brutta. Molto brutta».
"Can we put this choice to leave?" Asked one of the daughters at last.
No, he replied, "otherwise the grandchildren should also vote and at
that point ..." At that point it would have been even more difficult
to go all the way in the decision to leave for the journey to the
unknown, perhaps the most unknown of all his life. And so, the other
day, the doctor Giovanni Putoto took the Ethiopian Airlines flight to
Addis Ababa. Only passenger on board. Single. In the void of a Boeing
of disproportionate size. In normal times chock full of passengers who
come and go from Europe to one of the states that are developing the
fastest in the world.
One intensive care place per million inhabitants
The fear of the coronavirus has now infected everyone even before the
virus itself. And everyone knows what Dr. Putoto knows perhaps best of
all: if Covid-19 breaks out in Africa, "it will be a massacre". To
understand: «In the whole continent, ICU beds are one for every
million inhabitants. We are on the edge of the abyss. " The hostesses
thoughtfully approached him at a safe distance. All with the mask.
"Does the lord want anything?" No, thank you: «I preferred not to take
any risks. Don't touch anything ... We talked to each other. Then the
staff went in front of the business. I stayed towards the tail. Only.
Without ever lowering the mask. I looked at the series of "The Lord of
the Rings". We met again with the crew only at the exit. " Where there
was a policeman who took the passenger to a bus headed for a hotel in
the center. Quarantine: «It was in the agreements. They would have
accepted me in Ethiopia only if I had undergone complete isolation for
two weeks before going to Wolisso and other hospitals. " He sighs:
«This virus is an ugly beast. Very ugly".
In prima linea In Uganda e in Ruanda
Eppure Giovanni ne ha viste davvero tante, in vita sua. Entrato quando
doveva ancora finire l’università nel giro del Cuamm, l’organizzazione
padovana dei Medici con l’Africa animata per decenni da Don Luigi
Mazzucato, partì la prima volta subito dopo essersi laureato e
sposato. Era il 1988, aveva ventotto anni. Prima destinazione
l’ospedale di Aber, nel nord dell’Uganda. Anni violentissimi. Di
guerra. Da allora rimase in Africa dieci anni consecutivi, con rare
interruzioni di studio per aggiornamenti sulla medicina tropicale a
Liverpool e a Leeds, tirando su via via quattro figli, due maschi e
due femmine. Da Aber a Kampala, poi in Ruanda dalla fine di maggio del
1994, nei mesi dello spaventoso genocidio degli Hutu contro i Tutsi.
Poi ha lavorato negli anni duri nel Kosovo, collaborando col
contingente di pace italiano a Peje. E dopo essere rientrato
finalmente a Padova per lavorare all’ospedale universitario, ha
continuato a collaborare col Cuamm occupandosi della programmazione e
della ricerca per precipitarsi nel 2014 anche nell’inferno della
Sierra Leone, sconvolta dal virus dell’Ebola.
Più infido di Ebola
«È spaventoso, l’Ebola, su 100 infettati te ne morivano settanta». Due
numeri dicono tutto: 3.956 morti e di questi 221 medici e operatori
sanitari. In un paese di 8 milioni di abitanti. Una strage. «La
differenza col Covid-19 è che con l’Ebola l’infezione avviene con il
contatto diretto: con il sangue, la saliva, lo sperma, le lacrime, le
feci o il sudore di chi già è contagiato. Non devi toccare niente.
Niente. E devi lavarti continuamente. In qualche modo, però, non dico
che sia meno contagioso, assolutamente, del coronavirus. Ma il
Covid-19 e per certi aspetti più infido. Può infettarti senza che tu
riesca quasi a capire come».
Disastrosa situazione sanitaria
Dice che no, non può dire di essere più preoccupato oggi di quando si
tuffò nel pantano mortale della Sierra Leone: «Diciamo però che ho la
guardia più alta. Perché il nemico è ancora sconosciuto. E occorre
stare attenti a tante variabili». In una situazione, sull’orlo del
vulcano, che potrebbe essere catastrofica: «In tutta l’Africa ci
saranno non più di 7000 posti letto di rianimazione. Di questi 4000
nell’Africa Subsahariana. E il Covid-19 è già arrivato in 50 paesi su
54. In Italia ci sono quaranta letti attrezzati ogni 10.000 persone,
in Mozambico 0,38. Se scoppia qua, partendo probabilmente da qualche
megalopoli come Il Cairo o Lagos, che ha 16 milioni di abitanti, sarà
un disastro. Pensiamo solo una cosa: qual è la prima raccomandazione?
Lavarsi, lavarsi, lavarsi. Ma se qui non c’è manco l’acqua!»
Il valore dell’esperienza in Africa
C’è chi si chiederà: con l’emergenza gravissima che c’è in Italia ha
davvero senso mandare giù un medico in Africa? «Saranno almeno 1500 i
“nostri” medici che stanno già dando l’anima in questo momento nelle
corsie degli ospedali italiani», spiega Don Dante Carraro, medico e
prete, che del Cuamm è il direttore, «e sono tutte persone che mettono
a frutto quello che proprio in Africa hanno imparato. Gente che non
perde la testa neanche nei momenti più critici. Che inventa soluzioni
quando soluzioni non sembrano esserci. Che sa bene cosa sono le
emergenze». Di più: avere quell’antenna di ventitré ospedali in Africa
può aiutare a capire cosa succede davvero a un miliardo di persone
alle nostre porte. E forse a prevenire l’apocalisse.
At the forefront of Uganda and Rwanda
Yet Giovanni has seen so many, in his life. Entered when the
university was still to finish within the CUAMM, the Paduan
organization of the Medici with Africa animated for decades by Don
Luigi Mazzucato, left the first time immediately after graduating and
getting married. It was 1988, he was twenty eight years old. The first
destination is the Aber hospital in northern Uganda. Very violent
years. Of war. Since then he has remained in Africa ten consecutive
years, with rare study interruptions for updates on tropical medicine
in Liverpool and Leeds, gradually raising four children, two boys and
two girls. From Aber to Kampala, then to Rwanda from the end of May
1994, in the months of the terrifying Hutu genocide against the
Tutsis. Then he worked in the hard years in Kosovo, collaborating with
the Italian peace contingent in Peje. And after finally returning to
Padua to work at the university hospital, he continued to collaborate
with CUAMM in charge of programming and research to rush into 2014
also in the hell of Sierra Leone, devastated by the Ebola virus.
More treacherous than Ebola
"It is frightening, Ebola, out of 100 infected you died seventy." Two
numbers say it all: 3,956 deaths and 221 of these doctors and health
workers. In a country of 8 million inhabitants. A massacre. "The
difference with Covid-19 is that with Ebola the infection occurs with
direct contact: with the blood, saliva, sperm, tears, feces or sweat
of those who are already infected. You don't have to touch anything.
Nothing. And you have to wash yourself continuously. In some ways,
however, I am not saying that it is less contagious, absolutely, than
the coronavirus. But the Covid-19 is in some respects more
treacherous. It can infect you without almost knowing how. "
Disastrous health situation
He says no, he cannot say that he is more worried today than when he
dived into the deadly quagmire of Sierra Leone: «Let's say, however,
that I have the highest guard. Because the enemy is still unknown. And
we need to be careful of many variables ». In a situation, on the edge
of the volcano, which could be catastrophic: "There will be no more
than 7,000 intensive care beds throughout Africa. Of these 4000 in
Sub-Saharan Africa. And Covid-19 has already arrived in 50 out of 54
countries. In Italy there are forty equipped beds for every 10,000
people, in Mozambique 0.38. If it breaks out here, probably starting
from some megacities like Cairo or Lagos, which has 16 million
inhabitants, it will be a disaster. We think only one thing: what is
the first recommendation? Wash, wash, wash. But if there is no water
The value of experience in Africa
There are those who will ask: with the very serious emergency that
exists in Italy does it really make sense to send a doctor down to
Africa? "There will be at least 1500" our "doctors who are already
giving their soul in the wards of Italian hospitals at the moment",
explains Don Dante Carraro, doctor and priest, who is the director of
CUAMM, "and they are all people who fruit what they learned in Africa.
People who don't lose their heads even in the most critical moments.
That invents solutions when solutions don't seem to exist. Who knows
what emergencies are. " More: having that antenna of twenty-three
hospitals in Africa can help understand what really happens to a
billion people on our doorstep. And perhaps to prevent the apocalypse.
Coronavirus: Africa faces 'complete collapse of economies and livelihoods' if spread is not controlled, @UN warns @Independent
Africa is facing the “complete collapse of economies and livelihoods”
unless the spread of coronavirus can be contained, UN official Ahunna
Eziakonwa has warned
“We will see a complete collapse of economies and livelihoods,” she
warned. “Livelihoods will be wiped out in a way we have never seen
Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed has spoken of an “existential
threat” to Africa’s economies while seeking up to £120bn from G20
A meeting of the continents’ finance ministers agreed that Africa
needs a stimulus package of up to £80bn, including a waiver of up to
£35.4bn in interest payments.
“What we may currently be experiencing is the calm before a heavy and
devastating storm,” South Africa’s health minister Zweli Mkhize said
on Wednesday, warning against complacency.
“Unless we move fast we will soon be swarmed. There will therefore be
no further warning before the pounding descends upon us.
“There will not be time to prepare what we will not have put in place
in the next seven days,” Dr Mkhize said. “We don’t as yet have a true
picture of the size of the problem.”
Tackling COVID-19 in Africa @McKinsey
The COVID-19 pandemic is primarily a health crisis and a human
tragedy, but it also has far-reaching economic ramifications. In
Africa, it is already disrupting millions of people’s livelihoods,
with disproportionate impact on poor households and small and informal
businesses—and the pace of this disruption is likely to accelerate in
the weeks ahead.
No country or community is exempt; in oil-exporting countries,
COVID-related challenges are compounded by the collapse of the oil
An initial analysis of COVID-19’s economic impact, which finds that
Africa’s GDP growth in 2020 could be cut by three to eight percentage
We find that the pandemic and the oil-price shock are likely to tip
Africa into an economic contraction in 2020, in the absence of major
Even in the most optimistic scenario, we project that Africa’s GDP
growth would be cut to just 0.4 percent in 2020—and this scenario is
looking less and less likely by the day.
In all other scenarios, we project that Africa will experience an
economic contraction in 2020, with its GDP growth rate falling by
between five and eight percentage points
The four scenarios are as follows:
Scenario 1: Contained global and Africa outbreak. In this least-worst
case, Africa’s average GDP growth in 2020 would be cut from 3.9
percent (the forecast prior to the crisis) to 0.4 percent.
This scenario assumes that Asia experiences a continued recovery from
the pandemic, and a gradual economic restart.
In Africa, we assume that most countries experience isolated cases or
small cluster outbreaks—but with carefully managed restrictions and a
strong response, there is no widespread outbreak.
Scenario 2: Resurgent global outbreak, Africa contained. Under this
scenario, Africa’s average GDP growth in 2020 would be cut by about
five percentage points, resulting in a negative growth rate of −1.4
Here we assume that Europe and the United States continue to face
significant outbreaks, while Asian countries face a surge of
re-infection as they attempt to restart economic activity.
In Africa, we assume that most countries experience small cluster
outbreaks that are carefully managed.
Scenario 3: Contained global outbreak, Africa widespread. In this
scenario, Africa’s average GDP growth in 2020 would be cut by about
six percentage points, resulting in a negative growth rate of −2.1
This assumes that significant outbreaks occur in most major African
economies, leading to a substantial economic downturn.
Globally, we assume that Asia experiences a continued recovery and a
gradual economic restart, while large-scale quarantines and
disruptions continue in Europe and the United States.
Scenario 4: Resurgent global outbreak, Africa widespread. In this
case, Africa’s average GDP growth in 2020 would be cut by about eight
percentage points, resulting in a negative growth rate of −3.9
Globally, we assume that Europe and the United States continue to face
significant outbreaks as China and East Asian countries face a surge
In addition, significant outbreaks occur in most major African
economies, leading to a serious economic downturn.
Nigeria. Across all scenarios, Nigeria is facing a likely economic
contraction. In the least worst-case scenario (contained outbreak),
Nigeria’s GDP growth could decline from 2.5 percent to −3.4 percent in
2020—in other words, a decline of nearly six percentage points.
Kenya. In two out of four scenarios, Kenya is facing a likely economic
contraction. Under the contained-outbreak scenario, GDP growth could
decline from 5.2 percent (after accounting for the 2020 locust
invasion) to 1.9 percent—representing a reduction in GDP of $3
billion. The biggest impacts in terms of loss to GDP are reductions in
household and business spending (about 50 percent), disruption to
supply chain for key inputs in machinery and chemicals (about 30
percent), and tourism (about 20 percent). In scenarios in which the
outbreak is not contained, Kenya’s GDP growth rate could fall to −5
percent, representing a loss to GDP of $10 billion. As in Nigeria,
disruption of consumer spend would be the biggest driver of this loss.
2-MAR-2020 :: The #COVID19 and SSA
The First Issue is whether The #CoronaVirus will infect the Continent.
We Know that the #Coronavirus is exponential, non linear and
multiplicative.what exponential disease propagation looks like in the
Real world exponential growth looks like nothing, nothing, nothing ...
then cluster, cluster, cluster ... then BOOM!