Writer: Joey Macko
Editor: Emily Rapp
Covid-19, the Coronavirus, is not an isolated problem. It is not a localized disease arising in a country that has little effect on the affairs of others. The Covid-19 epidemic has created massive geo-political changes and reactions across the world. Since its discovery and outbreak in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China in late 2019, Covid-19 has spread across the globe appearing in 210 countries. Over 2.8 million cases and 195,153 deaths have been reported according to coronavirus-data.com as of April 24. The spread of Coronavirus and its current impact was aided by multiple variables such as lack of transparency between countries on the severity of the virus, failure to close borders quickly and effectively, the reactions of a nation’s medical services, and responses of local governments and populations. At this time, many countries have adopted similar strategies, including the issuing of stay at home orders, social distancing, the movement on non-essential businesses to work at home, and the closure of schools. As the pandemic progresses, it is up to various nations to come up with solutions to flatten the curve and return the world to a state of normalcy. The Coronavirus is a serious test of the globalized economy as well a major obstacle for the nation’s health care sector to combat.
Europe has been hit extremely hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. Spain, Italy, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom have a total of 868,516 cases and 95,876 deaths according to CNN health. Italy was initially hit heavily with the virus due to the delay of halting mass transit and the age of the country’s population as it is the second oldest in the world with 23% of citizens being over the age of 65. Other countries in the European Union have issued strict lockdown procedures and the EU closed its borders on March 18 for at least 30 days. Schools and businesses have been closed, social distancing orders have been instated, and fines have been issued if these orders are broken. According to the BBC, “people are allowed out once a day to exercise, to shop for basic necessities, for medical reasons or to go to work if absolutely necessary.”
The Nordic countries of Denmark and Norway have issued similar restrictions with nationwide shutdowns being enforced. However, Sweden has taken a different approach with the government issuing warnings, but allowing citizens to take protecting themselves into their own hands. Schools and restaurants are remaining open. Sweden currently has 17,567 cases and their approach has been met with criticism as fears of high death counts have been predicted in research models. Many countries in Europe are working to now reopen cautiously. Schools and businesses are being opened in Denmark as well as businesses in Spain. Countries that were reopening earlier such as Austria, were quick to shut down their borders during the early stages of the pandemic yet still urge citizens to follow social distancing guidelines. Though cases are beginning to slow, the EU remains extremely cautious as Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel stated that they have achieved a “fragile, partial success.” These reopenings which will occur near the end of April and the beginning of May will play a pivotal role in setting a precedent for how the rest of the world could relieve their cautions and restrictions.
In South America, Brazil has been the hardest hit with 51,073 cases and 3,407 deaths. Response from many of the Latin American governments has been sporadic and many countries are unable to gain resources to test as the rest of the world is working to procure tests themselves. Some countries have ordered social distancing and the closing of borders, while others failed to take initiative to combat the virus. Many South American countries have found themselves susceptible to the virus as instability and low funding of the health care system have made them unable to combat the virus effectively. Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro has been heavily criticized for his reaction to the virus as he attempted to downplay the severity of it and the country’s unpreparedness. In Ecuador, 6,700 people have died in the Guayas Province according to the BBC and the local authorities are unable to keep up with a large number of dead. Peru has deployed its military to monitor the streets, while Costa Rica and Colombia have closed their borders. There have been efforts between governments to cooperate and provide information and support. Reuters.com reported Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Brazil working to collaborate and provide medical supplies and help to sustain their fragile economies. Ultimately, South America is facing the brunt of Covid-19 behind Asia, Europe, and the United States, but to help minimize the threats, countries need to continue to close their borders and concentrate their efforts to help their people.
Cases in Africa initially spread from international travel before spreading between communities. Though Covid-19 has spread relatively slowly, many fear that the worst is yet to come. Simon Antara, from the African Field Epidemiology Network, in an interview with Atlantic.com, stated that “Our health systems cannot absorb additional shocks. We are preparing for a disaster.” South Africa has been the hardest hit with currently, 3,953 cases. Similar to South America, Africa faces problems in dealing with the Coronavirus due to a lack of medical resources and insufficient funding of healthcare systems. Africa does have some positives to work with, however. The countries of Africa had more time to prepare as Covid-19 was spreading through other parts of the world. Travel within and between African countries is not as common as in other continents and therefore may have slowed the spread. Atlantic.com also has stated that Africa’s population is young, with a median age of 18.9 years. Lockdowns have been issued in various countries which have hurt economies and put many citizens at risk with questions of malnutrition becoming imminent. In Rwanda, food distribution centers have been set up for many citizens. South Africa is looking for the curve to flatten by the end of April due to the implementation of lockdown procedures. Ultimately, time will tell how Africa deals with Covid-19 as it looks as the epidemic has not reached its peak in the region.
China alerted the World Health Organization of their growing number of cases in late 2019 as the Coronavirus began to emerge out of Wuhan, China. However, Beijing has been heavily criticized for its alleged downplaying of the virus, its lack of transparency, and its failure to shut down travel. Their reporting of 82,805 cases and 4,632 deaths have also been disputed. The Chinese Communist Party claims that they have effectively flattened the curve as they currently have 116 active cases, and the World Health Organization has commended China for the steps they took to help combat the virus. In Japan, a state of emergency is to remain until May 6th, with Japan only testing a small percentage of their population. Japan currently has 12,368 confirmed cases and 328 deaths. South Korea took a substantial hit from the Coronavirus early on, but the country was able to rebound with a large government effort that focused on cooperation from the public and transparency. Their solutions have been effective as they currently have 10,708 cases after having 8,000 at mid-March. In India, a complete lockdown was issued on March 25 which will last until May 3. India did set up a wide number of tests and labs in preparation of Covid-19 and currently has a total of 14,352 cases and 486 deaths.
Statistically, the United States has been most affected by Covid-19 as it currently has 883,826 cases and 50,373 deaths. Schools across the country have been shut down, businesses have closed, and social distancing orders have been put into place in many states. New York has been hit heavily by the virus with 276,711 cases. The first case in the U.S. appeared in January in Washington and was followed by a travel ban against China issued by President Trump, which was heavily contested. Since then the virus has rapidly spread as America has shut down. As with the rest of the world, America found itself needing to work to develop and mobilize medical supplies. America’s economy has also been hit hard with 22 million Americans filing for unemployment in the past four weeks according to CNN. However, the United States has an unparalleled private industry sector that has gone to work, with many companies volunteering to manufacture masks, ventilators, and other supplies. President Trump also invoked the National Defense Act, which allows him to direct companies on what to manufacture in a time of need. The Federal Government has also worked with the states to provide them with field hospitals and supplies. Two U.S. Navy hospital ships, the Mercy and Comfort have been placed in Los Angeles and New York respectively to help aid the cities in their fight against the virus.
“By moving a hospital ship to Los Angeles, creating testing sites, and providing supplies I feel like we are moving in the right direction,” said junior Carson Pallad, “However, I think it will be difficult for the country to reopen due to the large number of cases we have.”
On April16, President Trump introduced a three-stage process to help reopen the country, which involves slowly reopening businesses and travel once the Covid-19 curve has flattened in the state. The President stated that the governors are in charge of reopening their states, and the Federal Government will provide assistance to those in need. Some states are looking to reopen as early as the end of the month while others hope to reopen by mid to late May.