Socialist Worker

Virus grows as world leaders prioritise profits

by Sarah Bates
Issue No. 2710

Brazils far right president Jair Bolsonaro

Brazil's far right president Jair Bolsonaro


Coronavirus is set to reach a horrifying new milestone this week—10 million cases and a death toll of 500,000.

Far from transmission slowing, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported a record increase in global coronavirus cases on Sunday. The total rose by 183,020 in a 24-hour period. 

The biggest rise came from North and South America, which accounted from some 116,000 new cases. Some 29 US states and territories registered an increase in their seven-day average of reported cases after many lifted lockdown restrictions in recent weeks. 

Brazil continues to be particularly badly hit, and became the second country to register more than 50,000 deaths from Covid-19. 

Thousands of people flooded the streets of Brazil last Saturday—in protests against and in favour of far right president Jair Bolsonaro.

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Bolsonaro has fought lockdown measures and joined protests to oppose them. 

Some regions are now loosening restrictions, despite the devastating grip the disease still has on the country.  Trainee surgeon Douglas Sterzza Dias lives in Sao Paulo and his mother, uncle and grandmother died of Covid-19. 

“When the crisis started and I saw what was happening in Italy, my biggest fear was to have to choose between patients—to let someone die,” he said. “I think we are very close to this in the next few weeks.” 

Meanwhile, across the African continent cases have been rising by around 30 percent a week since the middle of May. 

Opening 

In South Africa, rocketing Covid-19 figures aren’t stopping president Cyril Ramaphosa from ­opening up the economy. Restaurants, casinos, hotels and hairdressers are set to reopen, despite the number of cases rising by 37 percent in just one week. 

Other countries are seeing an increase in infections after relaxing restrictions. In Germany, the R number—which indicates how many people someone with coronavirus will infect—jumped from 1.79 last Saturday to 2.88 just 24 hours later. 

In order to contain the spread of Covid-19 the R number should be under one. 

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The country had previously relaxed lockdown measures and even lifted travel restrictions to European countries.

In northern Germany, some 657 workers at an abattoir owned by meat processor Toennies tested positive for coronavirus last week. It led to the closure of local schools and the factory. 

In China the authorities are struggling to bring a new spike under control. Restrictions have come into force in Beijing following an ­outbreak that appears to be centred on the Xinfadi market in the city. 

At least 200 people have now tested positive for the disease in the city. 

The global picture shows the Covid-19 crisis is far from over—despite what governments desperate to reopen economies are keen to tell us.


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