Global humanitarian and political cooperation essential for mitigating COVID-19 pandemic
Just as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic starts to slow down in China, where no new domestic cases have been reported in the past three days, other parts of the world are seeing their numbers spike. With over 328,000 COVID-19 cases worldwide and at least 14,380 coronavirus-related deaths, Italy and Spain are announcing significant increases in their daily death totals. Italy has surpassed China in the number of fatalities. The United States which currently has the third largest number of COVID-19 cases 33,276 is seeing a sharp increase in its cases as well, mostly due to community spread and increased testing. As tests become more accessible across the nation, numbers will continue to increase over the next few months. The only way to accurately determine how many American’s have COVID-19 would be to test everyone, but that isn’t even a consideration at this point.
During Sunday’s White House Coronavirus Task Force news conference, the Trump administration stated that out of those who were tested only 10% were positive for COVID-19. He urged that people only test if they are exhibiting symptoms and that patients currently in the hospital should have priority for testing. President Donald Trump referred to COVID-19 as the “hidden enemy” and said that we are currently at war with it. He also said that he’s considering letting non-violent and elderly federal prisoners out to stem the spread of the virus.
In a race against time to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus in the United States, Medical professionals have been speaking out about the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE), respirators and other medical equipment as well as lack of accessibility to testing for those who have symptoms but still do not meet the qualifications for whatever reason.
The National Guard will be activated in New York, California, and Washington State, as this affords these states with maximum flexibility to use the guard without worrying about cost or liability. President Trump also spoke about the Federal Government deploying medical supplies to the hardest hit areas, including face shields, surgical gowns, face masks, gloves, overalls and medical equipment including much-needed respirators, as well as medical stations and naval ships within the next 48 hours.
Many are questioning how is it possible that the most powerful nation on earth has been so incredibly reactive during the past three months rather than being proactive and how can we be so unprepared for a pandemic, knowing that simulations such as Crimson Contagion and talks of this exact scenario playing out have been discussed by scientists and health professionals for years.
The most frustrating part is that there are more questions than answers, and many predict that things will be getting much worse (at least in the United States) in the upcoming months before they start to get better. With everything canceled/shut down people are starting to get impatient.
COVID-19 has spread to at least 167 countries and territories and although each one is battling their own war within their borders to contain it some nations such as Russia, China, and Cuba have been helping nations including Italy and Iran. Chinese President Xi Jinping made a diplomatic gesture towards European countries by calling the leaders of France, Germany, Spain, and Serbia to offer support in their fight against COVID-19.
Beyond the medical challenges associated with COVID-19 are the economic hardships that a massive country-wide shutdown has produced, leading some including The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity to question whether the consequences of this government-imposed shutdown are actually worse than the virus itself. Unemployment claims are expected to spike to 2 million this week, and a trillion-dollar Coronavirus stimulus bill has failed to move forward as of Sunday night and negotiations are expected to continue.
If we have learned anything it’s that this fear-driven pandemic is a world-wide issue and every effort should be made to mitigate its spread for purely humanitarian reasons, putting politics aside, while not creating an overwhelming sense of panic, as I stated in my previous article, we have reason for concern but not for panic.
This is the perfect time for the United States to end its wars and lift sanctions on nations including Iran and Syria, but seeing as these nations are seen as geopolitical rivals and threaten Washington’s capitalist hegemony, this is entirely unrealistic.
On Sunday the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan tweeted, “I want to appeal to President Trump on humanitarian grounds to lift the sanctions against Iran till the COVID-19 pandemic is over. The people of Iran are facing untold suffering as sanctions are crippling Iran’s efforts to fight COVID-19. Humanity must unite to fight this pandemic.”
This is most likely in response to the Trump Administration’s announcement on Friday during the Coronavirus Task Force news conference that they will not be offering Iran sanctions relief as the coronavirus ravages the country. Iran’s health minister said that every hour fifty people are infected and every ten minutes another person dies from COVID-19. Iran wants sanction relief from the US not humanitarian assistance.
Tehran has been urging countries to back its call for lifting US sanctions, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted on Tuesday that unlawful US sanctions drained Iran’s economic resources, impairing its ability to fight COVID-19. He asked other countries to join the growing global campaign to disregard US sanctions on Iran. NIAC Action and 25 Organizations have urged Trump to ease Iran sanctions to combat coronavirus.
Just like US State Department officials promised in December 2019, the maximum pressure campaign on Iran has intensified in 2020 with fresh sanctions imposed just a few days ago.
Putting the very real humanitarian concerns aside for a moment, the widespread apocalyptic fear of an invisible enemy by the media is causing mass hysteria and doesn’t help anyone.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.