Home | Comment & Analysis    Sunday 29 March 2020

Economic and social effects of Coronavirus

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Revealed global inequality or similarity? A natural observation on the economic and social effects of Coronavirus’s non-location boundedness in the 21st-century globalized earth

By Kujiek Ruot Kuajien

The most infamous name at least by global standards since its surfacing on the planet is the previously unknown virus (Covid-19). Newsrooms have become centre stage for global updates as well as social media with all sort of analysts passing their views on the web. The sports world has its curtains lowered, no beautiful game by The Arsenal, Barcelona, Gor Mahia or Riathin Nyuong FC to entertain football lovers, not to mention other sports being off their normal arenas. Comedians try to create fun only some time to realize they too might become a victim and the fun creations die down. Terms like lockdown and curfews becoming household bandwagon vocabularies that toddler aspiring to improve their language skills grapple with every day, wondering why their parents have all of a sudden switched to using such words and not others like go to sleep baby, I am tired from work I can’t play today et cetera.

According to WHO’s Country Office in China on 31 December 2019, pneumonia of unknown cause was deterred in Wuhan [1], which then accelerated to a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by 30th January 2020. From this point on, it has been a suffering and unfortunate loss of lives globally. The international community in an attempt to assist the most vulnerable in states with weaker health systems will appeal for about US$675 million to curb this deadly virus. The UN on 25th March 2020 appealed even for a higher amount as global humanitarian response, $2 billion to invest in humanity in the most vulnerable countries. The next big question for an ordinary human will be, how do we determine a vulnerable country? The virus seems to hit both in the developed and developing world. With the experience the UN and other humanitarian agencies have over the years, we surely should leave the answer to the question to them for they will have a way forward. Having experienced what, the UN can do first hand, there is no need to doubt its essential contributions during these global trying times.

Reveal inequality or similarity?

The so coined world, global and/or international inequality is broken into three international concepts; unweighted, weighted and "true" (Milanovic, 2011). I will not go into detail, as the reference to Branko Milanovic and other economists who have extensively covered the topic of inequality and poverty shall be of help. A key metric in measuring inequality globally is by use of GDP per capita income per country. Gini coefficient is widely used to indicate how unequal or equal a society is in terms of wealth or income distribution, both nationally or internationally. On what I term a natural observation, however, does the current outbreak of Coronavirus reveal inequality on a global scale? Estimates are countries with lower income and generally least developed in terms of health are projected to face it rough as the virus escalates. As regional inequality can be measured by nighttime light imagery; Wu, Yang, Dong, Zhang, and Xia (2018), can Covid-19 offer another metric for measuring world inequality? In this case, diseases that become pandemics can be used as an indicator of poverty and economic inequality. Perhaps this is already the case, the ethics behind this proposal are however subject to scrutiny.

The question on whether Coronavirus (’kolona Bairuth’, ’Croconola Baarus’-as the new virus poise difficulty of pronunciation due to its relative newness in the globe) has revealed global inequality perhaps has no straight forward answer-at least from my angle of view. This is because it has hit hard in both the developed and the developing world. But countries that do not receive frequent international travel, like business centres and so forth can be seen to have recorded both less death and cases. Looking at Europe, North America and Some Asian countries like China, South Korea, or an Oceanic nation like Australia, could deduce where the world economy is run daily. This view results when taking the spread of Coronavirus as an indicator of international business travels or work-related movements.

Continents like Africa have countries that have recorded less or close to no Coronavirus infections. The underlying reason could be countries that have not reported any case so far have either no testing devices and/or lack meaningful connection to the rest of the world except on minimal levels. This natural observation as I refer to it has revealed to us without spending a single coin in research how inequality is in the world. Covid-19 has revealed this with no doubt. Curious observers can go farther into analyzing regional inequalities and may find that even within the affected nations,

there is a sense in which the natural observation finds its ancient place. If the virus hit hard in the developing world which it might not have reached yet in greater magnitudes, then the natural observation will remain true, that inequality is high in the world and it leans towards them.

But is this one-way traffic or do we have an egg or the chicken first observation (Waithima, 2008)? The answer is no, the is an observed exception on other non-location bound globalization social trends that one is made to admit that Coronavirus has brought similarities in the globe acting as an equalizer of beings. The fact that there seem to be a higher spread of the virus in the developed world as opposed to nations that are classified as global South bring in some religious truths in "the first will be last and last will be first" kind of Matthew 19:30; 20:16, but the observation is not rightly a chicken-egg dilemma. On this trajectory, one can farther argue that the general fear and global suffering, through the experience of human lives lost as well as economic impacts can be seen as similarities globally. In one way or the other, the globe shall feel the economic pinch of the virus, for a while even after it vanishes. The lockdown means no work, working at home is minimal and nations with no proper infrastructure that can enable home working may face the economic wrath more.

Other social impacts

Some commentators have gone ahead to mention the "advantages" of Covid-19, for instance, religious and different believers have coined this the nearness to the return of Christ, God calls us to repent as we have sinned a lot as the globe for the Christians, perhaps the Muslims too and other believers think the same. The saddest thing on this view is churches, mosques and other places of worship are also closed down which leave less room for group intercessions. No wonder murmuring about the antichrist at work could be heard among the Christians for the virus has caught many by surprise. Some present-day prophets, however, claim predictions but we will not discuss such in detail on this piece. Children who never had enough time with their parents, couples who had some issues or avoided each other and all kinds of family gaps that existed before the lockdown or curfew depending on where one resides in the world, are being remedied at the time, in what can be seen as a naturally observed social positive. Other observations on such lines are education institutions embracing online learning forcing even those that had not used such platforms to use them due to schools’ closure. Many too have resulted in more online shopping or

at least less cash at hand, more use of cards systems, or mobile money transfers for payment to avoid contacts. Will this trend continue even after Covid-19 and for how long, and how many users? We wait to observe for ourselves perhaps a research opportunity to be followed up.

Most nations that have experienced curfews before had been due to political turmoil, caused by political disagreements that have been in recent history rampant in the continent of my birth (Africa). Theoretical proclamations as advanced by Tilly (1985) the state makes war and war makes the state have had not much impact in the diverse continent, as in most cases the state has made war and had continued to make it at the expense of the citizens. Woe unto world citizens who live in refugee camps now, for what awaits need the world to participate to help curve the situation. For instance, no lockdown can apply, neither can curfew help since the plastics (houses) displaced persons live in are no houses hence one single infection will lead to masses being affected, and may God have mercy for only that will save the grounded populations. Nyagoah Tut Pur[2] (24th March 2020), a human rights researcher and lawyer warned in the case of displaced South Sudanese at risk of Covid-19 either internally or externally.

Other globalization social issues on humans exposed vividly by this virus, like a painful wound are them that live in the slums of shanty settlements and dwelling resembling such, whose daily meal is a daily "hustle" of 1 dollar to consume a meal. What will curfew or a lockdown due to Coronavirus do to such humans? The running battles by the police in the "global South" with this section of the population has demonstrated no football is being played.

Finally, I applauded the globe (especially the medics and other players) for putting in place all possible measures to bring the ungrateful Covid-19 to an end. Way forward as I close, I hope human beings will take look, pause for a while and learn from the lenses brought forth by this pandemic! Could this be mother nature’s wrath? Word is, there is less pollution now. I wonder why a lot of disease-causing pathogens have been detected before and not Covid-19?

The author can be reached at kujiekruotkuajien@gmail.com for any feedback and/or comment on these observations



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