Articles in English

‘In Hungary Viktor Orbán has been allowed to rule by decree during this state of emergency without any clear time limit.’ Orbán addresses parliament about the coronavirus outbreak on 23 March. Photograph: Tamás Kovács/EPA

To say that Europe is united by its divisions is an exaggeration – but only a small one. Closing national borders during the pandemic may have been a rational health response, but the longer term political consequences become more troubling when we look at the order in which European governments began to reimpose frontiers.

Italy made the decision on 10 March, when the number of confirmed cases had already exceeded 10,000. Over the next five days, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary closed their borders one after the other, even though by that time in any of them the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases had not reach a hundred.…  Seguir leyendo »

Police officers wearing protective face masks patrol during coronavirus lockdown enforcement in Wroclaw, Poland. Photo by Bartek Sadowski/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

It is less than a month since we published our research paper on the future of democracy in Europe. But it feels like we now live in a different world. The coronavirus has already killed thousands of people in Europe, led to an unprecedented economic crisis and transformed daily life – and in the process raised difficult new questions about democracy.

The essence of our argument in the paper was that democracy in Europe should be deepened. But now there is a much more basic question about whether democracies can protect their citizens from the pandemic.

There has already been much discussion about whether authoritarian states will emerge stronger from this crisis than democracies.…  Seguir leyendo »

Lintao Zhang/Getty Images A Chinese man and a child wearing protective masks on a bike, Beijing, China, March 27, 2020

This running series of brief dispatches by New York Review writers will document the coronavirus outbreak with regular updates from around the world.

—The Editors

You can see here Pandemic Journal #1, Pandemic Journal #2, Pandemic Journal #3, Pandemic Journal #4, Pandemic #5, Pandemic #6, Pandemic #7, Pandemic Journal #8, Pandemic Journal #9, Pandemic Journal #10 and Pandemic Journal #11.

BEROWRA CREEK, SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA—Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, 2020 was a terrible year for Australia, and in such dark times, humor helps us cope. The triple-whammy began with an apocalypse of smoke and fire. Megafires that created their own weather converged to become the most extensive conflagration ever recorded on any continent, destroying 20 percent of the nation’s forested land.…  Seguir leyendo »

A street in Seoul, South Korea, last week. Initially in short supply, face masks became more widely available after the government purchased a substantial proportion of national production.Credit...Ed Jones/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The coronavirus erupted in South Korea in late January, six months into Yoo Yoon-sook’s new job. She had just moved from Seoul, where she spent three decades working in the same pharmacy, to open the Hankyeol (“Steadfast”) Pharmacy in the city of Incheon, near the international airport. Ms. Yoo hadn’t really gotten a sense of the neighborhood around her new pharmacy “before this all happened,” she told me. It became all coronavirus, all the time.

Incheon’s 1,100 pharmacies, including Ms. Yoo’s, began to sell out of KF-94 face masks, the equivalent of the American N95. So did corner stores and large retail chains like E-Mart.…  Seguir leyendo »

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has become an international symbol of ridicule in the middle of the pandemic. As he continues to flaunt his disregard for prudence — just this weekend he visited and shook hands with the elderly mother of convicted drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán — the number of cases of the novel coronavirus has kept rising in Mexico. The government mulishly delayed the adoption of social distancing and other measures, and now the country is ill-prepared for what comes next, scrambling to persuade citizens to stay indoors.

It wouldn’t take a worst-case scenario to overstretch Mexico’s limited health-care resources.…  Seguir leyendo »

In Turkey, a video of a truck driver went viral this week, as he voiced the feelings of millions of working-class Turkish citizens too poor to observe the government’s stay-home advice.

“Now you are telling me to self-quarantine at home. Man, how can I?” he asked. “I don’t have a pension. Am not a state employee. Am not rich. I am a worker, a truck driver. If I don’t work, I have no bread. I cannot pay the rent, the electricity or water bill. That’s worse than dying. Before you ask us to stay home … stop making a fool of yourself.…  Seguir leyendo »

People look at a chalkboard in Monrovia, Liberia, giving updates on the coronavirus on Monday. (Ahmed Jallanzo/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

Covid-19 is about to overload health-care systems in Italy, France, Spain, Britain and the United States. But what if you don’t have a health-care system to overload?

Liberia, in West Africa, has a population equivalent to Louisiana. But according to one expert, there are just three ventilators for the entire country. Beyond the lucky three who get them, all Liberian coronavirus patients who need a ventilator to live will die.

In the coming months, the coronavirus death tolls will be horrific. Yet, astonishing as it may seem to all of us living in lockdown, we are the lucky ones. In rich countries, it is likely that hundreds of thousands, if not millions, will die in the coming months.…  Seguir leyendo »

An article entitled “The Crusaders’ Worst Nightmare” in the ISIS newsletter al-Naba. Crisis Group downloaded the newsletter from the website Jihadology. The newsletter was originally distributed by ISIS’s messaging network.

As the COVID-19 pandemic swiftly reorders the priorities of policymakers and the public worldwide, conflicts that only recently occupied centre stage in the global policy and media debate are receding into the background. The fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere is no exception.

But while UN Secretary-General António Guterres has argued that mankind faces a common enemy in COVID-19, and thus appealed for a “global ceasefire”, ISIS has made clear that it sees things differently. In a new editorial in its weekly newsletter, ISIS has told its membership that their globe-spanning war is to go on, even as the virus spreads.…  Seguir leyendo »

When my plane landed in Mexico City from Mérida on March 15, I was on my way to my apartment to self-quarantine. The World Health Organization had declared coronavirus a global pandemic just days before — and many countries were closing their borders to prevent its spread — so it seemed like the responsible thing to do after traveling, even within Mexico.

But when I turned on my phone, I was flooded with messages and photos from friends enjoying the Vive Latino outdoor music festival among some 40,000 attendees. I was upset and worried, though not surprised because, at that point, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador had not yet decided to cancel any large events in Mexico due to coronavirus.…  Seguir leyendo »

The word Corona written in the sand on the beach in Lebanon's southern city of Saida. amid the spread of coronavirus in the country. Photo by MAHMOUD ZAYYAT/AFP via Getty Images.

As Lebanon strains to contain COVID-19, it is not clear which governmental public health policies apply to refugees. The government announced free testing for coronavirus in the public Rafiq Hariri University Hospital in Beirut but has not mentioned if refugees are eligible.

Lebanon’s coronavirus containment strategy is based on self-reporting and, given incidents of forced deportation and harassment of Syrian refugees from both the authorities and local communities, it is certainly less likely refugees would present themselves to the health authorities for fear of deportation.

Despite agreeing a Lebanon Crisis Response Plan with the UN for refugees, different ministries were left to implement it without coordination, just as Lebanese politicians from all sides started trying to rally popular support for ridding Lebanon from refugees – in particular from Syria, who Lebanese leaders say are causing a strain on the country’s already weak infrastructure.…  Seguir leyendo »

Isaac Lawrence/AFP via Getty Images Pro-democracy activists holding pictures of missing citizen journalist Fang Bin and anti-corruption activist Xu Zhiyong, who had been interrogating President Xi Jinping’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis, at a protest outside the Chinese liaison office in Hong Kong, February 19, 2020

For authoritarian-minded leaders, the coronavirus crisis is offering a convenient pretext to silence critics and consolidate power. Censorship in China and elsewhere has fed the pandemic, helping to turn a potentially containable threat into a global calamity. The health crisis will inevitably subside, but autocratic governments’ dangerous expansion of power may be one of the pandemic’s most enduring legacies.

In times of crisis, people’s health depends at minimum on free access to timely, accurate information. The Chinese government illustrated the disastrous consequence of ignoring that reality. When doctors in Wuhan tried to sound the alarm in December about the new coronavirus, authorities silenced and reprimanded them.…  Seguir leyendo »

A homemade protective face mask can help limit the spread of the coronavirus. Credit Ramon Espinosa/Associated Press

It shouldn’t have come to this, but here we are. The world is running out of face masks for health care workers, which is one reason American officials, including the surgeon general, have warned members of the public against buying their own masks for protection against the coronavirus.

But that doesn’t mean face masks for the public are a bad idea, if we had enough masks. Contrary to what American officials told us, many studies show that widespread mask-wearing might be a very effective complement to hand-washing, social-distancing and other measures to mitigate the pandemic. Health officials in China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan suggest that people wear masks in certain situations — if they’re symptomatic, for instance, or if they’re in crowded, not-very-well-ventilated places, like airplanes.…  Seguir leyendo »

Las discordancias y los ataques declarativos entre los empresarios y el presidente de México, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), no son nuevos ni corresponden solo a esta etapa de estridencia agudizada por del tema del coronavirus en el país.

Nunca hubo fundamento para esperar una luna de miel con los grandes empresarios, a muchos de los cuales AMLO acusó durante largos años de ser una “mafia del poder”. Fue electo en 2018 como presidente justamente para tratar de corregir y exterminar muchos de los vicios corruptos que caracterizaron históricamente la relación entre esos capitales dominantes y los gobiernos federales y estatales.…  Seguir leyendo »

How do the world’s poorest nations tackle a global health crisis like the current coronavirus outbreak? After the 2014 Ebola epidemic in West Africa, the World Bank launched the Pandemic Emergency Financing (PEF) facility — an insurance-based mechanism to raise money for pandemic responses in low-income countries through “catastrophe bonds” and derivatives.

The coronavirus pandemic is exactly the situation for which the PEF was designed. Most of the PEF-eligible countries are reporting covid-19 cases and urgently require billions of dollars to scale up their public health response. So far, the PEF has yet to pay out a single dollar. Here’s what happened and why.…  Seguir leyendo »

On Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron — the self-designated cheerleader for a more ambitious and integrated Europe — concluded at the end of a fruitless six-hour teleconference with European Union leaders that “what is at stake is the survival of the European project.” A day later, Italian President Sergio Mattarella, in a rare late-night address to the nation on a day that saw the highest number of deaths in Italy from coronavirus, warned that “everyone [must] understand the seriousness of the threat faced by Europe before it is too late.” Answering his own question, Mattarella noted that E.U. leaders have not.…  Seguir leyendo »