The coronavirus pandemic has reached a grisly milestone—1.5 million deaths worldwide from the vicious virus.
Ordinary people across the globe continue to pay the price as governments fail to control the spread of Covid-19.
Cases in Iran have soared past 1 million, with 13,922 new infections recorded in the 24 hours leading up to Thursday.
The country is the worst hit in the Middle East, and despite hundreds of deaths every day, it is coming out of strict lockdown into more relaxed measures.
In the capital Tehran, rules will be relaxed from Saturday. Schools will remain closed, non essential workplaces must be staffed by 50 percent less people and night time traffic will be limited.
The situation continues to worsen in the US.
On Wednesday the country declared 3,157 new deaths from Covid-19, and 200,070 new cases in a single 24 hour period.
Some hospitals are at capacity and health workers are struggling to cope, as the nation recorded 100,000 hospitalisations for the first time.
Dr Robert Redifleld, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said around 90 percent of hospitals were in danger of overflowing.
“We are at a very critical time right now about being able to maintain the resilience of our healthcare system.
“The reality is December and January and February are going to be rough times. I actually believe they’re going to be the most difficult in the public health history of this nation, largely because of the stress that’s going to be put on our healthcare system,” he said.
Despite this, outgoing president Donald Trump has refused to roll out any national restrictions—or any support for struggling workers impacted by closures.
Instead, it’s left to state governments to implement patchwork legislation on local lockdowns.
In Los Angeles, mayor Eric Garcetti issued a sweeping order banning most activities out of the house, to avoid a “devastating tipping point” and “needless suffering and death”.
“We must minimise contact with others as much as possible,” he said.
Across Los Angeles, everyone is banned from walking, driving, taking public transport, cycling, or using motorbikes and scooters, unless they’re undertaking essential activities.
Similar lockdown restrictions and tightening of measures are being unveiled across Europe.
Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany, has extended the lockdown for three more weeks, as the country battles a daily death toll on a par with rates in April.
“We have to bemoan a very high number of deaths every day, which shows the amount of responsibility that we have,” she said.
Not every country is relaxing restrictions for the festive period. In Italy, the government has approved new measures banning movement between regions from 21 December until 6 January.
It’s also set to implement a ban on people moving between towns on 25, 26 December and 1 January.
“If we let down our guard now, the third wave is just around the corner,” health minister Roberto Speranza said.
And Greece has also extended its second lockdown by a week, because cases are not dropping fast enough.
In contrast, England exited a national lockdown into a regional tiered system on Wednesday. This is despite 648 deaths recorded the same day.
Education secretary Gavin Williamson couldn’t resist the opportunity for some chest thumping.
He boasted that Britain looks set to be the first country to roll out a vaccine because it’s a “better country” than others.
“We’ve got the very best people in this country and we’ve obviously got the best medical regulator, much better than the French have, much better than the Belgians have, much better than the Americans have,” Williamson told LBC Radio.
“That doesn’t surprise me at all because we’re a much better country than every single one of them,” he said.
Williamson has served in Boris Johnson’s cabinet during a regime that has seen official figures of almost 60,000 people die from coronavirus in just nine months. The real figure is likely to be much higher.
This year will go down in history as one marked by one of the greatest public health crises ever known. It should not be forgotten that the rich and powerful presided over a capitalist system that failed to protect ordinary people.