Three countries account for 50% of new coronavirus cases

As of yesterday, May 3rd, three countries USA (33.2%), Russia (12.9%)  & Brazil (5.5%) accounted for just over 50% of reported new cases of Covid-19, whilst   accounting for only  approx.. 8.6% of the World’s population. They have powerful maverick leaders – President Donald Trump, President Vladimir Putin & President Jair Bolsonero who were initially either slow to react to the pandemic crisis, or even dismissed the risk altogether.

USA

Trump has botched countless opportunities to fight against the virus. Among many other things, he downplayed its dangersdismantled the bureaucratic expertise required to manage a pandemic, refused to swiftly take steps to provide Americans with protective gear and medical equipment, and conditioned aid to states on political favors.

https://www.vox.com/2020/5/3/21245726/trump-tweets-bush-coronavirus-bipartisan-unity-plague

This article in the Guardian a few days ago epitomises the US approach to managing the crisis under the headline : No leadership and no plan : is Trump about to fail the US on coronavirus testing ?

Analysts say that without centralized governance and coordination, the national effort remains a competing coalition of state and local outfits hampered by duplicated work, competition for supplies, siloed pursuits of non-transferable solutions and red tape that leaves some labs with testing backlogs and others with excess capacity.

A broad coalition of US health systems has mobilized to ramp up coronavirus testing in a national effort on a scale not seen since the second world war. But declarations of false victory by the Trump administration and a vacuum of federal leadership have undermined the endeavour, leading experts to warn that reopening the US could result in a disaster.

All of which leaves the US without a unified, coherent strategy for testing and contact tracing to contain a virus that does not respect state borders and has already killed more than 60,000 Americans.

Without it, the imminent experiment of reopening the country could be catastrophic, warned Harvard epidemiologist Michael Mina in a conference call with reporters this week.

“My concern is that we’ll end up right where we have been, with major cities having healthcare systems that get overrun quickly because of major outbreaks,” Mina said.

Full article :https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/may/02/donald-trump-us-coronavirus-testing

Russia

Russia confirmed 10,633 new coronavirus infections Sunday, bringing the country’s official number of cases to 134,687 and marking a new one-day record increase. Russia is now the seventh most-affected country in terms of infections, having surpassed China, Turkey and Iran last week.

Moscow is setting up 44 temporary hospitals which will treat up to 10,000 coronavirus patients.

https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2020/05/04/coronavirus-in-russia-the-latest-news-may-4-a69117

Russia’s handling of the coronavirus epidemic is coming under increasing scrutiny and could potentially damage the credibility and legitimacy of President Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin.

“I think it is becoming increasingly clear that Russian authorities underestimated the risks associated with Covid-19. The response was too late and now as a result we have a soaring number of new cases,” Andrius Tursa, Central & Eastern Europe advisor at Teneo Intelligence, told CNBC. The actual spread of the disease across the country may be considerably higher, as there are legitimate doubts about testing and reporting practices and Russian authorities have a history of concealing major incidents in the past.” https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/20/russias-coronavirus-outbreak-why-it-could-be-bad-news-for-president-putin.html

Brazil

In Brazil, like the USA,  it is thankfully the responsibility of State Governors  of to impose lockdown measures rather than the President, who seeks to undermine them at every opportunity. He has famously described covid-19 as the “little flu” or the “sniffles”.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro participates in a protest against the National Congress and the Supreme Court amidst on the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic at the Planalto Palace on May 03, 2020 in Brasilia. Brazil has over 96,000 confirmed positive cases of coronavirus and 6,750 deaths.

In Brazil, like the USA,  it is thankfully the responsibility of State Governors  of to impose lockdown measures rather than the President, who seeks to undermine them at every opportunity. He has famously described covid-19 as the “little flu” or the “sniffles”.

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro railed against the country’s lockdown Sunday  May 3rd in a speech to thousands of anti-confinement demonstrators as the number of confirmed COVID-19 infections passed 100,000, with more than 7,000 deaths. Bolsonaro blamed state governors for continuing the lockdown in a speech outside his presidential palace in Brasilia.

“The destruction of jobs by some governors is irresponsible and unacceptable. We will pay a high price in the future,” the head of state said in a speech broadcast live on Facebook.

Bolsonaro has repeatedly clashed with state governors, insisting that strict containment measures they are imposing are an overreaction, and damaging to the economy.

https://uk.news.yahoo.com/bolsonaro-tells-rally-brazil-lockdown-destroying-jobs-213312899.html

Mr. Bolsonaro, who did not wear a mask on Sunday, has dismissed the virus as a “little flu,” saying the economic fallout of quarantining measures will be deadlier than the virus itself.

Meanwhile, experts believe the overall number of COVID-19 cases could be 12 to 15 times higher, due to a large number of undetected cases given the lack of testing availability across the country’s 210 million population.

The government has banned people from entering indigenous reserves during the pandemic. However, the state has also cut down on law enforcement against illegal loggers and miners in remote regions as a safety measure.

An open letter on Sunday, which warned that loggers and ranchers could introduce the virus to indigenous communities in a development tantamount to “genocide”, was signed by celebrities ranging from U.S. television personality Oprah Winfrey to Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bündchen.

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/world/article-brazils-bolsonaro-headlines-anti-democratic-rally-amid-outcry-over/

So, what are we to make of these reports?  The USA and Russia have high levels of testing, but these programmes are not coordinated or linked to a strategy test, contact trace and quarantine in order break the rate of transmission of coronavirus. Brazil has a low rate of testing which is also not coordinated. The Presidents of USA and Brazil are rightwing populists who rail against the science  and who are in favour of kick-starting their economies as soon as possible, no matter what the risks are of re-spreading covid-19.

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