This is a live blog of brief accounts and stories by writers who are documenting the Coronavirus outbreak with issues and happenings from around the world. We hope this collection helps you relate, reflect, and gain new understandings of the global pandemic.
How Italy faced the COVID-19: an insight into the five stages of Italy’s grief
March 30, 2020
Claudio analyses the five stages of Italy’s gradual reactions to the COVID-19 crisis. While most citizens denied the impact of the epidemic in the beginning, Italy fastly became the European centre of the coronavirus. Reacting to the fast spread of the virus, Italy eventually became the first European country to lockdown. The pandemic led to quick reactions, even though Italy usually holds a prudent attitude. The reactions to the virus in Italy shed a light on the ambiguity of the economic system, the taken for grantedness of the healthcare system and public freedom, but also solidarity and imagination for a future society.
A more detailed analysis and access to the full article can be found here.
How is India fighting it?
March 29, 2020
Aditi D Zade, Sakshi Deulwar and Krishna Ballabh Chaudhary. (From India)
Can you imagine your lives being completely changed because of a small virus you can’t even see?
No wonder the world has come to a standstill because of this newly emerged pandemic, COVID19. The WHO termed COVID19 as an “enemy of humanity” in a press conference conducted on 19th March. This virus has become a challenge for India, which is home to nearly 17.7% of the world’s population. Considering the population size and density (464 per km²) of India, the outbreak of COVID19, if not controlled, can lead to major fatalities. And you would not want to face it without being aware of all that is going around. So here we have everything pooled in for you… All you need to know about COVID19!
India and the world
A total of 198 countries and territories are affected by COVID19 at this time. China, being the epicentre of this pandemic, has about 81,394 cases whereas the United States has reported the highest number of cases as of 28th March taking the number of COVID19 affected people to more than 100,000. In such a dire situation, the international community has called for solidarity.
Major takeaways from India
India has attempted a nationwide lockdown, which is definitely a huge step, especially with this size of the population. Other than essential services, all other places are shut. On Saturday, India reported a total of 944 active cases, with the death toll being 20. This is definitely the initial period of COVID’19 in India, and no doubt it still has a lot to achieve. However, what one can learn from India is the importance of quick response and decision making on the part of the central and the state governments in the country who informed citizens to keep away from mass gatherings and unnecessary travels to the affected areas. The Universal Health Screening of all the incoming international passengers was also helpful in limiting the transmission. The cooperation most citizens are showing is the key. Lockdown involves major curbs on various freedoms, and citizens are willing to put community welfare above individual welfare, which is praiseworthy. There are willing defaulters though who are worsening the situation for society as a whole.
The Economic Situation of India
In the purview of an unprecedented global health crisis, the future of India, as well as the world economy, looks increasingly uncertain. The early estimates suggest that the global economy will contract by 1% this year. To put this in perspective, the last time the global economy contracted was in the 2008-09 global financial crisis with almost the same magnitude. It is also estimated that the Indian economy, which was already under crisis, will have to face a major slowdown. According to Dun and Bradstreet’s economic forecast, the probability of countries entering into recession and companies going bankrupt has increased, and India is not likely to remain unaffected from the global meltdown.
A more detailed analysis of the above article has been done here by the same authors.
Special Podcast from Tumult
March 23, 2020
Our colleague Regina Fisch has been running Tumult, a podcast platform on new issues on science, activism and art. In this episode, people from 19 countries talk about their lives during the Coronavirus outbreak. The interview captured moments from March 20 to 22. ■
Reflections on Citizens’ Attitudes towards Covid-19 in Finland
March 14, 2020
A Goose with Black Eyes. (From China, currently in Finland)
Today, I received a dozen emails; all related to events that are being cancelled or postponed due to coronavirus. From zero infection in Finland to more than 100 confirmed cases, the government and public institutions are becoming more cautious. For many reasons, such as the government limiting the number of people who can be tested for coronavirus, the actual number of patients in Finland may be much higher than the official number.
But people trust the government here. They believe what the government says, that by washing your hands frequently, you can be prevented from coronavirus. So even today, when I went out, I didn’t see anyone wearing a mask on the street, except me. People still hold the view that wearing a mask is only for people who are sick rather than using it as a tool to prevent coronavirus. I told a few colleagues about such a case in China, where one of the factors that led to the infection was by taking transportation without wearing masks. But they didn’t care.
I don’t know and can’t predict how the coronavirus will spread in Finland. So far, many supermarkets are almost empty, at least in Helsinki. Things like bread, meat, toilet paper, and other daily necessities were sold out. The reason for this may be that everyone is already preparing for possible food shortages caused by coronavirus or working from home.
Yesterday (13.03.2020), the University of Helsinki admitted an exceptional situation and decided to cancel all courses, exams or meetings with more than 50 people, and suggested working from home. Today, when I was chatting with colleagues, I asked them if they would choose to work from home. They said that unless it were clearly stated, they would prefer to go to work.
It seems to me, western countries (as Finland is nowadays positioned) focus more on theories, and believe that the practices they take should be evidence-based. The measures to contain coronavirus that China has taken and that have been proven to be effective through practice are only viewed as cases, and not seen as reliable reference for action. However, in my opinion, there is often a gap between theory and practice. Theory does not always guide practice effectively, and in many cases, the development of theory lags behind practice. This is especially the case in situations such as today when rapid decision-making is needed. The way the government reacts towards the Covid-19 crisis determines the fate of this country and everyone who lives in this country. The policy choices are difficult but necessary.
Different beliefs, values, cultures, and policy systems result in different choices and actions. However, we cannot only focus on the choice (different policies implemented in different countries) itself; rather, the reasons behind the choice may be worth more exploring. No choice can be perfect, and each choice may represent certain groups’ interests and sacrifice other groups’ interests. This relates to a moral dilemma: Imagine you are driving a train on a track, and you find that the train’s brakes do not work. You have two choices. The first is to continue driving on the current track; as a consequence, five people working on this track will lose their lives. The second choice is to steer the train and enter into another track, with the consequence that one person will lose their life. How do you choose? ■
This account has also been published in Chinese on the social media platform Weibo. Additionally, the author included a source for us to read about protection guidelines against covid-19 by Prof. Zhang Wenhong, leader of the Shanghai Novel Coronavirus Medical Treatment Expert Group. See page 11 for detailed suggestions on how to protect ourselves from getting infected.
About this blog:
The situation spurred by the spread of 2019 novel Coronavirus is fast changing, simultaneously occurring in multiple locations on several levels. Each day, there are new policy developments in different countries to control the COVID19 pandemic by locking down or controlling borders , closing public institutions. The death toll continues to roll and medical staff are struggling with treating an overwhelming number of patients while themselves being under-protected due to lack of supply and in some cases hoarding, of medical protective gear. More and more countries are being affected by the pandemic and everyday lives of people all over the world are changing. While some students and employees are working online, others are facing severe financial hardships due to lack of work. Our magazine is running a series of voices from across the world, read more here to contribute.