Covid-19 Pandemic: Daily World Report

This daily world report dates to 18:00 GMT on Saturday 5 December 2020.

The numbers reported for active covid cases are gross under-counts: at most, only 2-3% of those infected. Further, reporting follows patterns depending upon the day of the week. Low numbers are reported over the weekend and Monday, then rising as the week wears on. US numbers this week are especially unreliable owing to the Thanksgiving holiday there.

Not reporting from lack of testing or government indifference is the benign cause of under-counts. Such is the case in much of Africa. Some countries fudge their numbers to make their epidemics politically less damaging: the USA, India, China, Russia, Iran, and Syria among them. China, for instance, does not report asymptomatic V2 carriers.

Countries reporting 10,000 or more new covid infections on Friday 4 December: USA 235,272 | Brazil 47,435 | India 36,638 | Turkey 32,736 | Russia 27,403 | Italy 24,099 | Germany 23,541 | UK 16,298 | Ukraine 15,131 | Iran 13,341 | Poland 13,236 | France 11,221 | Mexico 11,030.

Below are countries with over 10,000 reported active cases on Friday 4 December.

Country Active New Total Recovered Dead
USA 5,828,103 235,272 14,772,535 8,658,882 285,550
France 2,045,433 11,221 2,268,552 168,352 54,767
Italy 757,702 24,099 1,688,939 872,385 58,852
Brazil 614,601 47,435 6,534,951 5,744,369 175,981
Belgium 529,247 2,605 584,857 38,577 17,033
Russia 472,021 27,403 2,402,949 1,888,752 42,176
India 410,679 36,638 9,608,418 9,058,003 139,736
Ukraine 376,887 15,131 787,891 397,809 13,195
Poland 356,071 13,236 1,041,843 666,413 19,359
Turkey 328,346 32,736 765,997 423,142 14,509
Germany 312,992 23,541 1,152,283 820,600 18,691
Iran 259,034 13,341 1,016,835 708,106 49,695
Mexico 193,239 11,030 1,144,643 843,231 108,173
Serbia 173,570 7,782 206,940 31,536 1,834
Hungary 164,018 6,212 238,056 68,525 5,513
Argentina 133,164 6,899 1,454,631 1,281,955 39,512
Greece 100,392 1,648 113,185 9,989 2,804
Romania 98,009 8,062 500,273 390,212 12,052
Bulgaria 94,480 3,614 158,807 59,677 4,650
Indonesia 80,023 5,803 563,680 466,178 17,479
Switzerland 78,604 4,382 344,497 260,600 5,293
Bangladesh 76,178 2,162 473,901 390,951 6,772
Colombia 74,150 9,285 1,352,607 1,240,990 37,467
Portugal 73,712 4,935 312,553 234,038 4,803
Canada 69,977 6,299 402,569 320,096 12,496
Czechia 59,674 4,743 542,406 473,994 8,738
Iraq 58,463 1,855 560,622 489,772 12,387
Honduras 57,869 616 109,760 48,953 2,938
Jordan 54,198 3,116 234,353 177,195 2,960
Azerbaijan 52,649 4,267 138,000 83,800 1,551
Pakistan 51,507 3,262 410,072 350,305 8,260
Austria 49,819 3,815 297,245 243,775 3,651
Ireland 48,041 263 73,491 23,364 2,086
Lebanon 47,198 1,478 134,295 86,019 1,078
Costa Rica 46,123 1,180 143,685 95,789 1,773
South Africa 43,391 4,932 805,804 740,450 21,963
Morocco 42,670 3,996 372,620 323,814 6,136
Lithuania 41,232 2,518 69,582 27,760 590
Slovakia 35,293 2,184 113,392 77,142 957
Bosnia & Herzegovina 32,383 1,254 92,793 57,545 2,865
Ethiopia 31,738 512 112,091 78,619 1,734
Peru 30,707 2,014 970,860 903,958 36,195
Philippines 28,491 934 436,345 399,345 8,509
Libya 28,262 680 85,529 56,048 1,219
Dominican Republic 28,168 671 146,680 116,169 2,343
Algeria 28,159 803 86,730 56,079 2,492
Georgia 24,375 5,068 152,704 126,904 1,425
Croatia 24,190 3,955 143,370 117,148 2,032
Paraguay 24,042 1,022 86,499 60,644 1,813
Palestine 23,673 1,968 94,676 70,206 797
Tunisia 22,955 1,217 101,900 75,464 3,481
Armenia 22,425 1,184 139,692 114,990 2,277
North Macedonia 22,212 1,099 66,330 42,241 1,877
Japan 21,816 2,405 155,232 131,176 2,240
Belarus 21,622 1,774 143,383 120,571 1,190
Slovenia 20,529 1,790 83,139 60,957 1,653
Panama 20,402 2,388 173,607 150,051 3,154
Myanmar 19,488 1,502 96,520 74,973 2,059
Albania 19,458 801 41,302 20,974 870
Latvia 17,902 686 19,993 1,849 242
Kenya 17,633 866 87,249 68,110 1,506
Denmark 17,244 1,603 86,743 68,632 867
UAE 15,648 1,311 174,062 157,828 586
Nepal 15,447 1,272 238,861 221,847 1,567
Kazakhstan 14,029 819 134,706 118,643 2,034
Moldova 13,169 1,522 113,829 98,276 2,384
Ecuador 12,982 598 196,482 169,804 13,696
Uganda 12,575 286 21,898 9,117 206
Bolivia 12,189 192 145,186 124,015 8,982
Israel 12,043 1,059 342,101 327,162 2,896
Malaysia 10,799 1,141 70,236 59,061 376
Montenegro 10,531 535 37,467 26,414 522
French Polynesia 10,186 210 15,107 4,842 79
Chile 10,034 1,729 557,135 531,543 15,558
Norway 10,033 430 37,801 27,414 354

The virus V2 causes covid-19, which is a mild cold at worst in healthy people. Most healthy people never even know they were infected if they don’t get tested.

Covid is a risky disease only to those in poor health: mostly, people who chose not to keep themselves in good health via bad lifestyle decisions: overeating, poor diet, and lack of exercise. That situation applies to the majority in many nations. Over 80% of Americans and Brits are fat and out of shape. Covid is a public health crisis only because the public is not in good health – by choice.

Reaction:

Because of its surreptitious infectiousness (asymptomatic transmission), V2 has proven unstoppable. No country contained their epidemic. Lockdowns at best barely slow viral spread. A study of 149 countries found lockdowns and social distancing restrictions correlated with only an average 13% reduction in reported cases. Countries lauded for their handling of covid in the spring have had uncontrolled resurgences during the autumn.

Few countries have bothered with more than limited, selective testing. Hence the virus readily moves through populations surreptitiously via asymptomatic transmission. Further, European and North American countries have seldom been successful with contact tracing – Iceland and Germany being exceptions.

The World Health Organization advises that the best way to avoid serious covid is to stay in shape with regular exercise.

Mike Ryan, the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) top emergencies expert, said 9 October that authorities should “avoid these massive lockdowns that are so punishing to communities, to society and to everything else.” Ryan linked soaring covid cases in the northern hemisphere to the failure to quarantine people exposed to the virus. Western nations are not taking the lesson.

United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres on 3 December decried countries – without naming any – who rejected recommendations from WHO for the pandemic. WHO has been hit-or-miss and self-contradictory about its information and recommendations during the pandemic. Still, bitching can be a tension reliever. (4 December)

Europe is generally having better luck with its covid restrictions than the US because EU nations are cracking down on the kind of indoor gatherings that most commonly spread the virus. Europe is also doing better economically because it is somewhat supporting shuttered or limited businesses, while the US callously provides no support.

While many recognize the reason for their imposition, people are generally fatigued of the social and economic restrictions, which appear somewhat arbitrary and don’t seem to work. The disruption from shutting down community functioning has been tremendous. Push-back against restrictions reflects lack of credibility in authorities, especially in democracies, where false promises and lying are practically an integral aspect of getting elected and staying in office.

Vaccines

Hope is swelling that vaccines will take the sting out of the covid pandemic. That prospect is unlikely.

“Vaccines do not equal zero covid,” said WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan. “Vaccination will add a major, powerful tool. But by themselves, they will not do the job.”

The high reported efficacy numbers for vaccines are statistical fictions. Governments have been too eager for vaccines to exercise prudence. Vaccine companies are not publicly releasing their test data.

The Russian government is now dispensing its Sputnik V vaccine jab to those in Moscow. A nationwide voluntary vaccination program begins next week. (5 December)

Mass vaccination follows the strategy of herd immunity. There is no evidence of herd immunity for covid. Further, the logistics of getting vaccines distributed is unprecedented, especially the radical ones which require deep freeze storage (by Pfizer and Moderna).

Regulators in Britain granted emergency authorization to the vaccine developed by Pfizer/BioNTech. The European Medicines Agency suggested British regulators were hasty. The vaccine has known side effects. Pfizer lied about the vaccine’s efficacy, using a faulty statistical base. Aiming to stick it to detractors, Britain will reportedly fight back against “irresponsible” global criticism of its hasty approval of its national vaccine, trying to prevent damage to public confidence in the jab. (4 December)

With covid vaccines on the horizon, the US, UK and other countries are starting to prioritize vaccine allocations. As the highest risk group, fat folk and those living with bad lifestyle decisions will be first in line. Obese people are 113% more likely to be hospitalized, 74% more likely to be admitted to intensive care units and 48% more likely to die of covid-19. France is prioritizing its vaccines to retirement home residents and their staff. (30 November)

Former US presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama have pledged to take a covid vaccine on TV to show their safety. 42% of Americans wisely say they would not take a covid vaccine. (3 December)

Portugal’s government announced a nationwide plan to vaccinate people against covid voluntarily and free of charge. (3 December)

Poland will distribute its covid vaccines free to citizens. Poland’s prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki expressed hope that vaccines will be available by February 2021. Italy and Bulgaria are also launching free vaccination campaigns when supplies become available. (4 December)

Finland is offering free universal distribution of covid vaccines to adults. Finland has ruled out vaccinating children before more research is available. (3 December)

Japan will be offering free vaccines to all residents (not just citizens, as EU countries plan) when supplies become available. (2 December)

Sweden is prioritizing care home residents and staff in its vaccination drive. (4 December)

France was once home to the father of immunization, Louis Pasteur, but is now among the most vaccine-sceptic nations. Only 41% of the French planned to get inoculated. (3 December)

Interpol issued a global alert to law enforcement agencies worldwide, warning them that organized crime networks may try to sell fake covid vaccines or steal real supplies. (2 December)

Wealthy countries refuse to waive intellectual property rights for covid-19 drugs and vaccines. As with the last pandemic, rich countries are hoarding early allocations of vaccines.

Facebook said it would remove false claims about covid-19 vaccines that have been debunked by public health experts, following a similar announcement by YouTube in October. (3 December)

More on covid vaccines.

Europe

The peak of daily deaths in Europe from covid in the autumn pandemic wave (4,082) has now exceeded those in the spring. (4 December)

In the wake of a sustained surge, almost all European nations imposed restrictions on public and private gatherings to small numbers, as well as closing bars et cetera, with restaurants limited to take-out, if not outright closed. Several EU nations have closed schools. It is impossible to sensibly say that the imposed restrictions worked to limit spread, as restrictions are imposed or tightened only after new cases rose. More likely is that spread of this cluster-oriented virus peters out after a spell, regardless of restrictions.

Saliva tests for covid-19 in the UK, which have been introduced for health workers as part of the government’s mass testing program, pick up only 13% of people with low levels of the virus, miss half of all covid cases, and only catch 1/3rd of those with a high viral load. The Tory government, naturally, is defending its incompetent stupidity. (5 December)

London mayor Sadiq Khan caused a bit of excitement among shoppers in Carnaby Street on his walking tour (not wearing a masks) to promote retailers hard hit by lockdowns. (5 December)

Turkey now has curfews on weekdays and full lockdowns over weekends – restrictions which are insensibly inadequate to have any effect. That Turkey is now reporting record daily death tolls proves the point. (5 December)

Portugal will ease restrictions over the Christmas period to allow people to visit friends and family but measures will be reinforced again a few days later to crack down on New Year’s Eve parties. (5 December)

The covid surge in Russia continues. The government, which fudges its covid numbers to make the epidemic there look milder than it is, has been hesitant to impose restrictions which would cripple the economy. Some Russian hospitals are experiencing serious drugs shortages and cannot restock for multiple reasons. Russia is trying to import foreign-made drugs. Restaurants and nightclubs in Moscow cannot serve customers between 11 pm to 6 am for the rest of the year. All schools in Moscow are closed. (5 December)

Austria has had one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe. The restrictions did not stop the spread of covid. The country is now placing hope on mass testing of the population, which will be voluntary. Testing began Friday 4 December and is hoped to be accomplished before Christmas (25 December). Restrictions are being loosened Monday 7 December. (4 December)

Germany has extended its covid restrictions to 10 January. (3 December)

Italy’s epidemic continues unabated despite severe restrictions. Italians will not be able to move between the country’s 20 regions from 21 December to 6 January except for work, medical reasons or emergencies. On Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day they cannot even leave their towns. (5 December)

Czechs raised glasses in pubs, ate lunch at restaurants, and hit the shops for the first time since October as restrictions were eased before the Christmas season. (3 December)

Despite a continuing flood of new cases, Ukraine has lifted weekend lockdown restrictions. (2 December)

Hospitals in the Balkans are on the cusp of collapse. The Balkans have some of the lowest density rates of doctors in Europe. (29 November)

Ireland emerged from covid restrictions on Tuesday 1 December, prompting predawn shopping sprees and appeals to the public to stay vigilant against infection. Beauty salons, gyms, department stores and other non-essential retail opened after a 6-week lockdown, drawing queues of shoppers outside some stores before 6 am. Restaurants and pubs that serve food can reopen from Saturday 5 December. Though covid contagion slowed, the severe restrictions did not work as well as epidemiologists predicted. (1 December)

Norway is easing its restrictions for holiday gatherings at year’s end. (2 December)

Citizens of Europe’s Schengen area who travel to Iceland won’t be subject to quarantine and screening requirements if they certify that they have already contracted covid and completed a period of isolation. (2 December)

Switzerland is letting its ski resorts stay open. Neighboring France, Italy, Austria and Germany have closed their ski resorts. Feeling defensive about keeping the country relatively open and relying on the public to comply with hygiene measures, Swiss health minister Alain Berset said Thursday 3 December “Switzerland does not react to pressure from other countries.”

Greece’s covid epidemic peaked at the end of November. The government there has extended its severe restrictions to Monday 14 December. (3 December)

Greece’s prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, is facing a backlash over a mountain bike trip deemed to have violated the country’s strict lockdown measures. Politicians and public figures around the world have revealed their natural hypocrisy by violating covid restrictions. (4 December)

Slovenia is to begin mass covid testing this month, after lockdown restrictions failed to curb the spread of the virus. (4 December)

The Czech Republic is letting restaurants and non-essential shops reopen on Thursday 3 December. (29 November)

Croatia shut restaurants and banned weddings as cases surge there. The restrictions last until 25 December. (27 November)

Spain’s declared state of emergency has not stopped Spaniards from shopping for the holidays and enjoying themselves, to the consternation of the government. The number of new cases in Spain has dropped since its peak in early November. (30 November)

Sweden’s epidemic peaked in mid-November. Besides eschewing lockdown measures, Sweden is an outlier in not requiring mask wearing. “Face masks may be needed in some situations. Those situations have not arisen in Sweden yet, according to our dialogue with the healthcare regions,” said Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s chief epidemiologist. “WHO is clear that the state of evidence for masks is weak. All studies so far suggest that it is much more important to keep your distance than to have a face mask,” he added. A survey found confidence among Swedes in the government’s handling of its covid epidemic had fallen from 55% in October to 42% in late November. (3 December)

With travel restrictions and closed government offices in many Western nations, Gibraltar has become a magnet for those wanting to get married. Gibraltar requires minimum bureaucracy to get married and there are no virus border restrictions. Many marriages being celebrated in Gibraltar are of couples of different nationalities in long-distance relationships who could not travel to each other’s country to get married and start their lives together because of virus travel restrictions. (27 November)

Americas

New covid cases continue to climb in much of Latin America. Brazil and Mexico are getting the worst of it. (5 December)

New cases in North America are setting new records. (5 December)

Owing to lack of a mass testing program, US continues to be blind to the extent of its epidemic, which roars on despite restrictions that only ruin the economy. Unlike many other major nations, the US has had no coordinated covid response.

Covid-19 was ranked as the leading cause of death in the US in the past week, overtaking heart disease. Both are lousy lifestyle diseases. (5 December)

Not following the science, the US disease control agency shortened the covid self-quarantine period to 10 days. (2 December)

Not following the science, the US disease control agency urges “universal mask use” indoors. (5 December)

Not following the science, US president-elect Joe Biden says that he will ask Americans to commit to 100 days of wearing masks as one of his first acts as president. (4 December)

California has long had one of America’s lowest number of hospital beds relative to its population. The state now has a severe shortage of hospital staff and beds. (5 December)

California farmworkers have contracted covid at almost 3 times the rate of other residents. (3 December)

The mayor of San Francisco on Friday 4 December ordered new lockdowns and business restrictions across the Bay Area in the face of the covid surge. (5 December)

On Saturday 28 November, Los Angeles engaged its idea of a lockdown, long after covid has spread throughout the sprawling city. The pseudo-lockdown is slated to last 3 weeks. (28 November)

Los Angeles, which is under a stay-at-home order, has shut down a “heavily visited” covid testing site in order to allow a film shoot to happen there. (1 December)

US health officials say they plan to begin vaccinating Americans against the disease as soon as mid-December. (2 December)

Chile extended a state of catastrophe that allows for the control of movement of people through curfews and lockdowns. Chile has had a recent upswing in new cases. (3 December)

Asia

New cases continue to rise in South Korea, especially near Seoul, the capital: the highest in 9 months. Restrictions so far have no notable impact – the reason: asymptomatic young people are at the heart of the upswing, accounting for 40% of new infections. The Seoul government now requires most establishments to close at 9 pm each day. “Small business owners and self-employed businesses are the most affected by social-distancing measures. We are very sorry for that,” said the health ministry. (5 December)

China continues to report a few to a couple dozen new cases daily. China does not report asymptomatic infections. (5 December)

China is carrying out sweeping inspections on food importers, supermarkets, e-commerce platforms, and restaurants to prevent the spread of covid through imported cold chain products. (3 December)

Thailand is having an outbreak via 4 Thai women who entered the country illegally from Myanmar a few weeks ago. (2 December)

India’s new covid restrictions focus on local containment. Though still at a high level numerically (but not per capita), new cases in India are receding. (4 December)

In the face of a covid upswing, Japan’s government put the nation on “maximum alert.” Serious cases in Japan have reached record levels. Osaka and Sapporo have been identified as places not to travel to. Bars and restaurants in Tokyo have been asked to close by 10 pm until 17 December. Japan’s governments do not have the legal power to impose restrictions like many other countries. To seek compliance, some local and regional governments are paying businesses to limit hours. (2 December)

Oceania

With its covid epidemic on the wane, Australia is starting to relax back into a more normal state of affairs. A resurgence is expectable. (5 December)

An entire Virgin Airways flight to Melbourne has been advised to isolate at home after 2 travelers failed to quarantine in Sydney Australia. (5 December)

Philippines police have threatened to cane people who violate social distancing protocols. (4 December)

Lolo Matalasi Moliga, the governor of American Samoa, denied US air force planes permission to land over covid concerns. American Samoa is the only US jurisdiction still free of covid-19. Neighboring Samoa, an independent nation, recorded its first 2 cases last month, both imported on a repatriation flight, after 9 months keeping the virus from its shores. (3 December)

The covid surge in Indonesia continues. Jakarta, which gave upon on large-scale social restrictions in October, is hosting a record number of new cases. (3 December)

New Zealand knows of 4 active covid cases in isolation facilities. No known cases are in the general population. Though suffering a few lapses, New Zealand has been rigorous in trying to contain covid contagion. (3 December)

Middle East

After months of severe restrictions, Iran’s epidemic appears to have peaked. Iran’s death toll from covid passed the 50,000 mark on Friday 4 December. (5 December)

Lebanon will not have enough hospital beds to cope with increasing covid cases, said Hamad Hassan, the health minister in the caretaker government. Hassan said compliance with a 2-week lockdown that ended this week had been patchy. (3 December)

Jordan is seeing a slowdown in new cases from earlier this month. (30 November)

Africa

Morocco extended its medical state of emergency, which has been in force since March, until 10 January. (3 December)

New outbreaks in South Africa are happening just before that country’s peak travel season. South Africa has had a serious covid epidemic, which was not thwarted with months of economy-wrenching lockdown. (3 December)

Impacts

Economic

The world is having a deep, prolonged recession as a hangover from futile lockdowns. The global economic hit from the panicked response has been 6 times worse than the 2008 financial crisis. “The world’s most vulnerable communities are in a dangerous downward spiral,” remarked Norwegian humanitarian Jan Egeland 21 September. “Covid-19 is not only hitting the poor the hardest, it is creating ‘new poor’,” wrote Victoria Kwakwa.

China, South Korea, and Russia have been the least affected economically. The pandemic had knocked East Asian economic growth to its lowest level in a half-century.

On Tuesday 1 December, German chancellor Angela Merkel remarked that the covid pandemic will further shift the global balance of power in Asia’s favor. “The pandemic will set us back economically,” Merkel said, pointing to the economic revival in East Asian countries, where more people wore masks and there were fewer demonstrations against lockdowns.

In November, China’s factory activity expanded at its fastest pace in over 3 years. China’s service sector, which accounts for 60% of its economy and half of its urban employment, has been on the upswing for over 6 months. China is the only G20 economy that will have economic growth in 2020. (30 November)

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) estimates that world GDP will decline 4.5% this year. The OECD predicts that the global economy will quickly rebound and grow by 5% in 2021. (16 September)

World Bank chief economist Carmen Reinhart said 17 September that global economic recovery from the pandemic “will take as much as 5 years.” She said a quick rebound followed by a slower complete recovery was likely, adding that for the first time in 20 years, global poverty rates will rise following the crisis.

The response among rich nations has been to argue over how to throw money at the economic doldrums with no talk of instituting reforms which might bring a measure of equity to economies.

European Union governments shelled out to protect worker incomes when lockdowns were ordered in the spring. Now EU unemployment has risen for 7 months in a row. Unemployment and poverty are rising thoughout Europe. 25% of European children are at risk of poverty. (23 November)

Qantas Airways triggered a debate on mandatory covid vaccination when it announced that vaccination would be necessary for passengers on its international flights. Airports Council International, which represents airports worldwide, joined most airlines in calling for a choice between testing or vaccination, fearing a blanket rule imposing pre-flight inoculation would be as disruptive as quarantines. (3 December)

Oil producers in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries are extending their oil production cuts to March in the wake of weak demand. (30 November)

The autumn rise in the British covid epidemic is bringing a new tide of homelessness which the government is letting fester. (8 November)

Disney plans to lay off 32,000 workers in the first half of 2021, primarily at its theme parks, an increase from the 28,000 it announced in September. (26 November)

To help those in debt, Portugal has suspended loan repayments until September 2021. (24 September)

Small, independent businesses around the world are folding in the wake of covid restrictions. Restaurants, cafes and bars have especially been hard hit. Housekeepers have lost employment in droves. By contrast, liquor stores have done well.

As retail businesses wither, the covid pandemic has abetted the dominance of Amazon.com. (26 November)

UK Music, the British music industry’s umbrella organization, said Wednesday 18 November that the music business there will halve in size because the covid epidemic there. The British music industry has provided nearly 200,000 jobs. (18 November)

Over half of the world’s workers are unemployed. Most of these unfortunate souls live in developing nations, though over half of Americans are without sufficient work to pay their bills. ~180 million Americans risk losing power and water as massive, unpaid utility bills pile up. (15 November)

Migrant workers have been especially impoverished. Over 100 million face extreme poverty. Child poverty is much worse than among adults.

The UN warned 2 September that the response to the covid pandemic will push 47 million more women and girls into extreme poverty and widen the gender poverty gap.

Zambia has become the first African country to default on its debts since the pandemic began. There is concern that a “debt tsunami” could engulf the continent’s most heavily indebted nations as the financial impact of economic restrictions hits. (25 November)

In its idea of economic stimulus, the US government gave $3.4 trillion to the wealthy in May, largely ignoring those in need: a wasteful giveaway that precipitously raised government debt while doing little for a deteriorating economic situation. Fraud was rampant in the stimulus disbursement. The US government budget deficit soared to over $3 trillion: proportionate to economic activity, the most massive debt since World War 2. Yet the US is now in economic straits as dire as the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The US economy has bifurcating into those whose jobs and income are assured and an increasing number of people who live hand-to-mouth. “There is a 2-tier pandemic recession, where the top of society continues to spend as normal while the bottom-half of the country sits in long lines at food banks with the opportunities for employment few and far between,” said economist Chris Rupkey. (25 November)

The US federal government no longer provides monies to unemployed people, leaving the burden of welfare entirely on increasingly impoverished states.

With no prospect of federal relief in sight, US states are slashing spending, adding to the economic depression. With no prospect of offering relief to the working class, the US government appears determined to push the country into a prolonged economic depression.

Unemployment continues to rise in the US. Hunger, homelessness and poverty are rising in the US. To conceal its callousness, the government does not track poverty, and its unemployment figures are an outright lie. Homelessness in the US continues to rise.

Hundreds of small and medium-sized companies that received government subsidy in the spring have gone out of business. Bankruptcies of US companies of all sizes continues. The US central bank has spent many trillions of dollars to illicitly prop up failing corporations by buying their debt. In attempt to ruin what it can before relinquishing power, the evil Trump administration is stopping the central bank from further largess.

The retail sector in the US & UK has been especially hard hit. Shop closures are double what they were in 2019. British department store Debenhams has gone belly up, as has Arcadia Group, which owns brands including Topshop and Miss Selfridge. (2 December)

Nearly 30% of US restaurants have gone out of business since states banned restaurant dining. Small businesses account for 44% of the American economy, and are the country’s largest employer. To cover its callousness, the US government is not reporting statistics.

Societal

Amnesty International issued a sharply worded report on retirement homes in Europe during the pandemic, lamenting how badly seniors were neglected. “A health emergency is no excuse for not providing adequate care for the elderly. Homes are not car parks for elderly people,” said Esteban Beltrán.

Hunger is up worldwide. The UN estimates world hunger will double this year, with at least 265 million famished. The UN food agency warned that 2021 will be worse than 2020. Over 50 million Americans go hungry.

The UN said 1 December that the covid pandemic has raised the need for humanitarian aid by 40%.

Italy is establishing a tradition of restaurants cooking for the poor, with volunteers distributing the food. “After the lockdown the problems continued. I don’t see this ending soon,” said Italian Catholic priest Mauro Battaglino. (25 November)

Italy’s birth rate is the lowest it has been for a century and a half. The reason: widespread poverty. (25 November)

Tens of thousands of girls across Asia have been forced into child marriage by desperate families plunged into poverty because of response to the covid pandemic. Child marriage has traditionally been practiced in communities from the Indonesian archipelago to India, Pakistan, and Vietnam.

Lockdowns and movement restrictions have resulted in significant increases in domestic violence around the world.

With schools shut, child labor in India has soared, as has urban poverty in the wake of India’s long fruitless shutdown to curb covid. (10 November)

The covid pandemic has disrupted healthcare in 90% of the world’s countries, with low- and middle-income nations the most affected.

The societal disruption of covid-19 has meant that immunization for other infectious diseases has not happened in at least 68 nations. Tuberculosis – the biggest infectious-disease killer worldwide – is making a comeback. Dengue is bedeviling Southeast Asian countries. Africa has had recent outbreaks of yellow fever, cholera, measles, and Ebola, among other diseases. Progress against HIV/AIDS is threatened as people are not getting the treatment they need.

Schools

A report by UNICEF, the United Nations agency for children, warned that “the future of an entire generation is at risk,” with the threat to children “increasing, not decreasing” as the world deals with the covid pandemic by economic restrictions, insufficient social welfare, and closed schools. (19 November)

Schools reopened in much of the world in September. In the US, as the epidemic roared anew, schools again closed. Consensus is now building that schools for young children ought to be open, considering that they are less contagious. (1 December)

Iraq opened its public schools on Monday 30 November for the first time since February. (30 November)

Online learning is causing a serious drop in academic achievement. It just does not work for most students. (24 November)

Europe left its elementary schools and day care centers open, despite increasingly severe restrictions otherwise. That started to change in early November, as the pandemic worsened. Many EU nations have closed universities and high schools. France kept its schools open. Only a few EU nations, such as Greece, have shut all schools. (1 December)

Colleges and universities have been devastated in the US, and are laying off people and cutting courses. College sports have been hard hit, draining the pool for future Olympic athletes. (16 November)

A study found that children across Britain have lost basic skills and regressed in learning because of school closures. Younger children have lost basic reading and arithmetic skills. Some who were potty-trained have gone back into diapers, and others have even forgotten how to eat with a knife and fork. For some, prolonged isolation means they are having to relearn how to maintain friendships. Older children are struggling with their reading and writing, and their physical fitness is lacking. There has also been a notable increase in eating disorders and self-harm. (10 November)

Bangladesh has had all schools and other educational institutions closed since 17 March. The closure is scheduled to last until 19 December. The government is broadcasting lessons on TV for school students, while universities are conducting classes online. (12 November 2020)

UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore portrayed a dire picture of home life: “We know that closing schools for prolonged periods of time leave devastating consequences for children. They become more exposed to physical and emotional violence, their mental health is affected. They are more vulnerable to child labour, sexual abuse, and are less likely to break out of the cycle of poverty.” (15 September)

Isabel Díaz Ayuso, who heads Madrid’s government, said Wednesday 2 September that it was “probable that all children would get infected, one way or another, because the virus is everywhere.” Avuso added that school was probably as safe as any place to be, as a child was just as likely to catch covid during a family weekend gathering or while out in the park with a friend. Spain, and notably Madrid, has had a severe covid epidemic. (3 September)

The UN estimates that 43% of schools in the world lack basic hand-washing facilities – a situation affecting 818 million children. In the 60 countries at highest risk of health and humanitarian crises caused by response to their covid epidemic, 3 in 4 children can’t wash their hands at school.

References:

Ishi Nobu, “Covid-19,” (28 November 2020).

Ishi Nobu, “Coronaviruses & CoV2,” (28 November 2020).

General references on CoV2, covid-19, and the pandemic.