Socialist Worker

Global spread of coronavirus is a warning of the threat from reckless Tory policies

by Sarah Bates
Issue No. 2715

In April Trump met coronavirus survivors. Now there are 150,000 corpses for him to contemplate

In April Trump met coronavirus survivors. Now there are 150,000 corpses for him to contemplate (Pic: The White House on flickr)

Coronavirus continues to sweep across the globe, with underfunded and understaffed health services struggling to provide care. 

President Donald Trump's US remains the most appalling example of the toll of ruling class failure.  Officially nearly 150,000 people have died from the disease and there are more than 4.1 million cases across the country.

At the same time unemployment is soaring. Yet the government hasn’t yet agreed on a new unemployment benefit to help people without jobs survive. 

Soaring infection rates in states such as California are leaving many people unable to get a test. 

In the state, some 12,800 new cases were confirmed in a 24-hour period last week, and the healthcare system is struggling to cope. 

“It breaks my heart when we have to say no, we can’t test you,” said Dr Grace Neuman, who runs a hospital testing programme in Los Angeles. 

The health centre serves around 25,000 patients, yet is now only able to use 25 test kits every day. The shortages come because laboratories are unable to keep up with demand. 

Excludes

And the way in which testing is run often excludes people who need healthcare access the most. 

People without cars aren’t able to use the drive-through testing sites. And people without immigration documents will avoid services where they have to give personal information.

“I feel like Covid-19 is like the Grim Reaper,” said Neuman. 

Such large numbers of infections are swamping the contact tracers desperately trying to speak to those who have tested positive. 

Mexico is facing similar problems as essential workers are struggling to get their hands on tests. 

“The WHO has said ‘test, test, test’—but not even healthcare workers have access to tests,” said Rafael Soto, nurse and spokesperson for medical workers protesting for health improvements.

“Many co-workers have died without ever being tested.”

The Johns Hopkins University reports that just three tests are performed out of 100,000 people. And the figures show the disease is spreading rapidly—66 percent of tests return positive results. 

Mexico’s president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, elected as a radical alternative to neoliberalism, is using the pandemic as an opportunity to push through severe austerity measures. 

He has refused to enter into a strict lockdown, and instead opened up the economy while rates of Covid-19 cases were rising. 

In Australia, authorities are desperately trying to combat a deadly second wave that is sweeping the nation, in particular the state of Victoria. 

Poor twice as likely to die from virus as business booms for the bosses
Poor twice as likely to die from virus as business booms for the bosses
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Since national lockdown restrictions eased in May, cases have increased, and on 23 July, 398 new cases were recorded. 

Similarly to Britain, hundreds of care home residents and their carers have been left unprotected to battle the disease. 

Experts in South Africa warned that the death toll there could be “far higher” than the official figures show.

The South African Medical Research Council said excess deaths were 17,000 higher than previous years.

Some of these will be cases of undiagnosed Covid-19, but others are dying of other ailments as they steer clear of hospitals. 

The nation currently has the fifth highest number of Covid-19 cases, with more than 400,000 infections, with figures rising by more than 10,000 a day. 

More than 1.3 million cases have been recorded in India and a study has revealed that far higher numbers than expected—nearly one in four people—in the capital New Delhi had contracted Covid-19. 

The government survey said 23 percent of the 21,387 tested had Covid-19 antibodies. Previous figures put the rate of infection less than one percent of the city population. 

Across the country almost 100,000 new confirmed cases of the virus have been recorded in just two days.

And in Brazil, health workers continue to battle the disease. 

It announced 67,860 new cases in just one day last week and over 85,000 people are confirmed to have died because of coronavirus.

President Jair Bolsonaro is another world leader who shunned a strict lockdown and instead joined local protests against the measures. 

He remains in quarantine in the presidential palace after catching the disease himself. 

The worldwide picture is a grim one, and a timely reminder that despite the Tories telling us it’s all over, the true horror of the pandemic may just be beginning.


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