Socialist Worker

A warning from the world—it’s dangerous to open up

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2711

Restrictions are being reimposed in parts of China

Restrictions are being reimposed in parts of China (Pic: Zhizhou Deng/Wikimedia commons)


More than half a million people across the world are now known to have died from coronavirus. The real figure could be much higher.

More than ten million people have tested positive for Covid-19.  And in many countries, the virus appears to be spiralling out of control.

Cases are rising by around a ­million a week, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). And the rate of contagion has ­doubled since 21 May.

A panel advising Israel’s national security council said the country has “lost control of the pandemic”. Authorities in South Korea have said the country is now in the grip of a second wave.

Some 44,000 new cases were reported across the US by 4pm on Friday—its biggest daily rise.

Tens of thousands of new cases are now being reported every day in both India and Brazil, with the two countries accounting for over a third of all new cases over the past week.

The death toll across Latin America could rise to over 380,000 by October, according to some researchers. It currently stands at around 100,000.

Across Africa, confirmed Covid-19 cases reached a new high of over 371,000, including 9,484 deaths.

Ireland last week suffered its highest number of infections in a fortnight. And a record rise in daily new cases was reported in the Czech Republic.

Many countries eased lockdown restrictions only to find that new cases of the virus rose rapidly.

Restrictions have been reimposed in Beijing after a surge in cases. Over 300 people have been ­diagnosed with Covid-19 in Beijing since mid-June.

Nearly half a million people in Hebei province, which surrounds Beijing, are now under lockdown. In Anxin county, around 90 miles from Beijing, neighbourhoods have been “sealed off” with people ­needing permission to leave their homes.

Germany has renewed a lockdown in the western region of Guetersloh, after 1,300 slaughterhouse workers tested positive for the virus.

And in Australia, authorities are considering reimposing some form of lockdown after an outbreak of cases in Victoria, Melbourne.

Some 85 new cases were reported there on Monday, recorded over a 24-hour period, and 75 were in Victoria. It was the biggest daily rise in Victoria since March.

In Britain, the Tories tell us that it’s safe to significantly ease ­lockdown measures.

The evidence from across the globe suggests that this is not the case.

The number of people who have died from coronavirus has now ­overtaken the number who die each year from malaria. And it has taken less than half a year to do so.

The global death rate averages around 78,000 a month, according to the WHO.


‘Germany is not Angela Merkel’s success story’

The German Tory Angela Merkel has received undeserved praise for her handling of the coronavirus crisis.

In truth, all neoliberal governments have deliberately prioritised profits over people‘s lives. Germany’s is no exception.

Merkel’s prime concern has always been supporting German big business.

Non-essential workers were forced into work from day one. That was either because their bosses were legally entitled to force them to work, or because at 60 percent of wages, German furlough payments were the lowest in Europe.

Many bosses chose not to offer furlough payments at all, but to sack workers— which is again allowed under German law.

Germany’s hospitals were relatively well placed to deal with the outbreak, but this situation is unlikely to last. In this year’s national budget, where every other department received more funding, healthcare has been slashed by 5 percent.

Recently, Covid-19 outbreaks in several different abattoirs have damaged Germany’s reputation for providing a safe environment.

Thousands of workers were infected in meatpacking plants owned by the Tonnies group.

Most of the affected workers are subcontracted Eastern European migrants with uncertain work permits and precarious working conditions. They are easily forced into working in unsafe conditions.

As the lockdown is slowly eased, pubs and even cinemas are starting to open, causing many to worry how soon a second wave of the virus will hit.

But for many manual workers, homeless people and refugees, the lockdown never existed, and they have been disproportionately hit by the virus.

Phil Butland, in Germany


‘Ending quarantine caused new wave in South Korea’

the South Korean government ended social distancing measures and reopened the schools in early May.

A gay bar in Seoul recently became a focal point for the media in regards to the virus.

The government used every possible means to create moral panics by scapegoating those infected and pandered to homophobic ideas.

Currently, the number of daily infected people is around 20 and 50, but already hospital beds are running out quickly.

In South Korea, the majority of hospitals are private and only 10 percent of the hospital beds are at the government’s disposal.

Recently the government had to shorten the length of the quarantine period from 14 to ten days to cope with the situation, risking more infections.

Several small scale outbreaks have already occurred in logistics centres, call centres, schools, Karaoke bars and clubs.

What’s more worrying is that the majority of infections are now happening in Seoul and its nearby provinces, which together have a population of 26 million people.

The number of patients whose infection route is untraceable is increasing.

More than a quarter of a million people petitioned for closing the schools. Yet the government refused and for the sake of business and profit is keen not to reintroduce social distancing measures.

Kim Jong-Hwan, in South Korea


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