Coronavirus Unthinkable Catastrophe Is Knocking at the Door of the ‘Third World’
April 1, 2020 (EIRNS)—The global coronavirus pandemic is just beginning to strike nations in the developing sector, sometimes referred to as the Third World, but the potential for unthinkable catastrophes is already evident to anyone with a heart willing to see. Consider the following cases:
Nigeria: On March 31, the government locked down the country’s two largest cities, Lagos (population 20 million) and the capital Abuja, for an initial period of two weeks. AFP reported that “Businesses were closed, markets abandoned and streets empty as the usually chaotic megacity of 20 million ... shuddered to a halt.” The wire then quoted a taxi driver: “It is like putting people in prison. I don’t know how people can survive for two weeks without working to make money.” An engineer stated: “To reduce the number of people with coronavirus, we know they need to stop movement. But there is no money for the citizens, people are just sitting at home, with nothing to eat.”
EIR sources in Mexico City, Mexico and Lima, Peru report similar grave concerns in those countries as well, as measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus begin to be implemented.
Haiti: Like most African countries, Haiti has no ability to fight coronavirus. The government has imposed a quarantine which is unenforceable—citizens must choose to stay home in the slums and starve, or go out to work, to earn money for food. Some 6 million of Haiti’s 11 million people live below the poverty line. Illness and malnutrition are rampant. Only 4.4% of the national budget goes to healthcare. There is only one major modern hospital, and there are only a few private and public clinics, all woefully ill-equipped. Haiti has only 911 doctors and 130 ICU beds, but these are older models—some reports indicate that Haiti actually has only 30 fully functioning ICU beds. Local medical experts have predicted that 800,000 Haitians could die from COVID-19—over 7% of the population.
Ecuador: This small South American nation is presenting scenes straight out of Boccaccio’s description of the 14th-century Black Death. In the coastal city of Guayaquil, which has 1,301 cases out of the national total of 2,748, people are dying in their homes or on the street—some from causes other than COVID-19—and are being left there, sometimes for two or three days or longer. That is because funeral home owners are too afraid to pick them up, and because of the collapse of the public health system, city authorities simply don’t respond. There are cases of people who have died in front of public hospitals, seeking admission, but being told there are no beds. Just two days ago, President Lenin Moreno finally named a national task force to ensure that bodies are retrieved and buried, but he caused outrage when he proposed that those who have died from COVID-19 be buried in mass graves—a violation of the Christian sensibilities of most of Ecuador’s population.
U.S. jails and prisons: “Our jails are petri dishes” for the coronavirus, the president of Illinois’ Cook County Board of Commissioners Toni Preckwinkle told MSN. The jails are like nursing homes or cruise ships, she stressed. A week ago, the Cook County jail in Chicago had 2 cases; by last Sunday, 101 inmates and a dozen employees had tested positive. There are similar patterns in the Rikers Island jail complex in New York, in Michigan, Los Angeles, and elsewhere. Every major city and many states have begun programs to release non-violent prisoners in order to reduce overcrowding. In Los Angeles County, the District Attorney said that “I have asked my attorneys to consider the health risks in every decision they make,” but they are also faced with the fact that about 30% of the county’s jail inmates are homeless, making them “at least as vulnerable to the virus as they might be behind bars,” MSN reported.