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Covid-19 Update 7, April 23

Images of mass graves in New York, Ecuador and Brazil have been appearing in the media. According to Reuters, as of April 17 the real number of cases in Brazil was “likely 12 times higher” than what was being reported, mostly among the poor and the poorest. With no outside help, the favelas have organized to defend against the virus. Faced with massive protests against economic hardship and coordinated action by civil society organizations, the government introduced universal basic income to last for 3 months, with an extension likely. Cheques for more than half of the minimum wage are being sent to 59 M recipients, with twice that number benefiting indirectly. All that with a madman as president. What is it in our species that makes some of us chose the very worst to lead us?

While supposedly receiving annual inspections, only 9 of Ontario’s 626 long term care facilities received “resident quality inspections” last year. Until now there have been 125 virus outbreaks among them and 259 deaths, 44.8% of the province’s total. Clearly criminal negligence. On April 8, Ford suspended environmental regulation using the pandemic as an excuse. As always, the Conservatives represent business interests against our common good and, since coming to power have been assaulting human services in the name of “the taxpayer”.

In Quebec, those aged 70+ represented 38% of the cases and 90.3% of the deaths. The province has 52.2% of Canada’s cases and 57.4% of deaths.

With the pandemic nearly over, it is a great outcome for Germany especially in comparison to Spain and France. On April 20 shops smaller than 800 square meters have reopened and some schools in Berlin allowed final year students’ exams – sitting far apart and wearing masks.

More testing – 3.4 times more – is a major reason for Germany doing so much better than France. May 11 will be the end of the “strict national lock-down in France, with primary school children (5- 12) returning to school on May 12. Spain has allowed children to go outside to walk and play.

Behind on testing and not well prepared, the UK faces more hard times ahead. Although likely significantly under-reported, the Russian numbers carry grave future consequences.

Canada’s daily new case rate has been coming down very slowly, as is the norm. It is a tough virus and the last part of the curve down to say 1% will take time. In terms of mortality and infection rates, our performance continues to be very good. Consider how much better it would have been had those responsible properly protected our mothers and fathers. Canada’s progress is similar to Germany and California, with the former ahead of us on the curve, the latter somewhat behind.

At a great cost, collectively we have done well so far and have mostly limited the damage. We need to continue doing what we are doing and it will be over sooner rather than later.

AP, Toronto, April 23, 9AM

Andrew Pakula is a long time peace activist and has been a member of Science for Peace from the very beginning. He is a retired social research and management consultant with a background in social psychology.

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