KT edit: The coronavirus spreads as global connections weaken
Will rich countries step up during the crisis? Are they obliged to support poorer economies?
Tracking Covid-19 and containing the for more than six months is like catching your tail. In fact, the virus is good at throwing people off guard just when they think they have controlled it. A sobering thought, one that exposes human frailties. Often, people wonder if they have become their own enemies. Technology didn't see this coming, digital presence has proven useless. The inability to grasp the seriousness of the situation and act responsibly is leading to a rise in infections and death rates, particularly in the United States, Brazil, and India. In just three weeks, 100,000 more people have succumbed to the disease. The global death toll has surpassed 600,000 as the number of cases have climbed to over 14 million. And yet, political leaders in many countries continue to trivialise the pandemic. Some have fallen sick from the virus while others like US President Donald Trump have only recently taken to wearing a mask. The president has refused to set an example, and when he has attempted to protect himself (and others) by dressing appropriately, it has come too late in the year.
If leaders like Angela Merkel in Germany and Jacinda Ardern in New Zealand are being praised for their astute handling of the situation, Iran, the United States, India and and Brazil have let their people down by failing successive Covid-19 tests. Iranian leader Hassan Rouhani's recent claim that 25 million people have been infected in the country was in stark contrast to the figures published earlier this year. Several countries in Africa, developing nations in Asia and Latin America and some in Europe need help to come out of this crisis by balancing economic and health priorities.
Will rich countries step up during the crisis? Are they obliged to support poorer economies? How much help should be extended to those in need? There is is confusion in the ranks of Western leaders. The US has turned its back on global leadership. Institutions like the United Nations and the World Health Oragnization have been found wanting. Europe has fading clout, China is facing scrutiny and there's no common ground to be found. European leaders have been unable to bridge differences over the size, design and conditions attached to the multibillion-euro package of loans and grants that could support the economy as it attempts to find its feet again. The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are urging the G20 to waive debts of poorer countries to help them cope with the economic fallout of this crisis. How soon countries emerge from the pandemic will depend on global leadership. Only a handful of nations have managed to contain the spread of the virus, but that is not enough for a global economic revival. It is said that no nation is an island. The world thrives on connections, yet those connections are the missing link in the fight against the pandemic. Cooperation has been eschewed in the pursuit of power that has led to diplomatic confrontations and no solutions. The coronavirus must be laughing at the human predicament.