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Focus This Week in the World

This Week in COVID-19 | 4.27.2020

Photo by Viktor Forgacs on Unsplash

French Police Preparing For Possible Food Riots

by Hal Conte

The police prefect of Paris’s suburban Seine-Saint-Denis department warned of the effects of potential food shortages caused by poverty as a result of the economic distress caused by the lock-downs. “We have 15,000 to 20,000 people in slums, emergency shelters and migrant worker camps who will have a hard time finding enough to eat. The underground economy, theft, the ‘Uber-economy’, and the collapse of temp work have all seen a large, sudden collapse,” he warned. Fiery protests have taken place in Paris against police and the lockdown in recent days among France’s minority communities, who point to evidence of racism among the force.

Image source: AFP- Lionel Bonaventure


Fears Of “Toxic” Abuse By Governments Under Banner Of Social Distancing

by Hal Conte

Use of military police equipped with whips and tear gas to ensure social distancing in shopping lines in South Africa, the detention of hundreds of thousands of people in countries such as the Phillipines and Sri Lanka for breaking curfew, and the refusal of some EU member states to provide shelter for migrants on the basis that this could create an opportunity for the coronavirus to spread, were all cited by U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights Michelle Bachelet as part of a “toxic lockdown culture,” whereby coronavirus-related concerns were being weaponized against vulnerable groups. She added that protecting human rights is “fundamental to the success of the public health response and recovery from the pandemic.”

Image source: UNICEF-Katchya Photos


Tajikistan Continues Claiming No Coronavirus Cases

by Hal Conte

Tajik President Emomali Rahmon continues to maintain that the country has no coronavirus cases even after conducting 4,100 tests, but regional experts say the claims of the ruler, who has been in charge for 26 years and is set to see his son take over after him, are “impossible.” Some WHO staff inside the country have claimed that the country is doing fine only to backtrack on those statements in interviews with foreign-langauge media. The government has closed schools and banned the exportation of meat, eggs, and wheat, but perceived denialism has led to panic by some citizens.

Image source: AP-Tajikistan Presidential Press Service


Some Bangladesh Sweatshops Already Reopening

by Hal Conte

Clothing factories supplying global brands including the Gap and H&M are being reopened in Bangladesh as corporations have pushed for reopening as the economic consequences on the poor region bites. Crucially, international competitors from Vietnam and China have already been producing goods for weeks. Bangladesh has seen 145 deaths in total. All those going back to work will be required to wash their hands, wear masks, and physically distance themselves from each other.

Image source: Reuters-Amit Dave


Albanian Prime Minister, An Artist, Creates New Work On Coronavirus Documents

by Hal Conte

Edi Rama, Albania’s Socialist prime minister who is also a professional artist who uses his government office as a studio, created his latest drawings atop political documents related to the handling of the virus. The tones are ominous compared to some of his previous work, with twisted black lines and abstract monsters featuring as the main topics. Rama has shared his art with his country’s citizens via the instagram initiative #InTouch. Rama’s government has been criticized for corruption, a rampant problem in the country, which has sought to join the EU.

Image source: Edi Rama


Lack Of Old People In Africa Means Coronavirus Less Of A Threat There

by Hal Conte

Confounding many who expected a heavy death toll, including Bill Gates, Africa has seen less coronavirus deaths than other regions, with just 1,400 total. Age is viewed as a crucial reason as to why: the median age in Africa is 19.4 years, compared with 40 in Europe and 38 in the U.S. In some countries including South Africa, due to the practice of social distancing and lockdowns, overall deaths among populations have actually fallen as a result of a lack of road accidents and homicides.

Image source: FT