The coronavirus (COVID-19) has now spread to all European countries – on Tuesday Montenegro confirmed its first cases. The Montenegrin government announced that two women who were traveling abroad were infected with the virus.
The latest data
The World Health Organization has declared Europe the new epicenter of the outbreak which began in Wuhan China last December. As of March 21, there were 234,073 confirmed cases around the world, 81,300 of which are in China.
The number of deaths from the coronavirus pandemic in Italy rose to 3,407, surpassing the number recorded so far in China (3,253).
According to official WHO data there are 41,035 total cases in Italy, 17,147 in Spain, 10,999 in Germany, 10,877 in France, 3,863 Switzerland, 3,277 in the UK, 2460 in the Netherlands, etc. According to the media, however, the actual numbers are much higher.
China acted quickly and decisively, up to and including mass quarantines. Although the epidemic originated in Wuhan, the situation is now under control.
The secret to their success was rejecting the illusions of liberal democracy and taking the strictest measures possible. The Chinese socialist government, despite huge economic losses and costs, put human lives ahead of income. In the West, despite its guise of adherence to human rights, capitalism has shown its severe insufficiency.
China’s strategy included the emergency construction of mass quarantine centers, the imposition of curfews and mandatory sanitary measures, the effectiveness of which was clear within a month. Gradually, people began to take off their masks and return to their old lives, although the area is naturally still closed to tourists.
Journalists laughed at and criticized China’s “totalitarian measures” – only now, the “enlightened” countries are also realizing that this is the only way to prevent the deaths of thousands.
In Mediterranean countries such as Italy, Spain and France, along with other places around the world such as the US, Iran and Israel, measures such as quarantines were not implemented immediately in order to keep the economy running and they are now paying the price. Quarantine measures in these countries were taken only after the outbreak got out of control.
Italy is entering the fourth week of its worst national crisis since World War II.
Italy reports new cases of coronavirus and deaths in a day – the total number of infected in the country, according to various sources, is between 43,000 and 47,0000.
— Reality Index (@Reality_Index) March 20, 2020
The most affected regions in Italy are Lombardia, Emilia Romagna, Veneto, Piemonte, Marche and Toscana.
The situation has reached such a critical level that the army is not only patrolling borders and streets to secure the quarantine, it is already helping to move the bodies of the deceased, as funeral services have been overloaded.
No wedding, no funeral, no priests near deathbeds – for Italians who adore life in its fullness, and for many sincere believers, this is a true disaster.
Even in the early stages of the pandemic, hospitals were overcrowded and many doctors were infected at work, having limited access to adequate protective equipment. The doctors who were left on their feet warned in advance that they were unable to provide any urgent help.
What is more frightening in this case is the fact that Italy was not lazy or passive in its reaction to coronavirus. The country was active – since February 23, dozens of cities in the north introduced quarantine and called for public discipline. On March 4, a directive was introduced to close all schools across the country.
And yet, the number of infected people continued to grow exponentially. By March 9, Italy introduced an emergency regime blocking transport services throughout the country.
“Italy has been devastated by the virus because the action it took was just a little too moderate, a little too restrained, and a little too slow. The country took measures that were substantial and costly but nonetheless insufficient to actually bring the epidemic to a halt,” Vox reports.
According to the publication’s assessment, Italy is difficult to reproach – it took decisive action, but out of scale with the severity of the problem at hand. The lesson from Italy is the countries must act before the hospitals are overwhelmed and the situation gets out of hand. Vox estimates that the US and most European countries are currently making the same mistake, taking half-measures that will lead to an outbreak.
1. National security issues, or “biosecurity policy”
The publication notes that the coronavirus took the country by surprise, a situation comparable to terrorist attacks. The country must be ready for any emergency situation: equipping hospitals and preparing medical professionals. Hospitals should be seen as trenches for defense: health care needs heavy funding, just like the defense industry.
2. Effective dialogue and cooperation between governments and their own citizens
Measures need to be taken by the authorities in an emergency regime – citizens should be aware of the problem and act accordingly. Emergency situations should be perceived by citizens as a norm, rather than an attempt by the government to overstep its authority.
3. Unity of the people in critical conditions and mutual assistance.
— Mkenya Daima🇰🇪 (@E10_official10) March 21, 2020
Germany lost a lot of time in the beginning, failing to take the threat seriously. For example, at the end of February when the virus started to spread, they nonetheless celebrated the Carnival festival, a paradise for the further spread of the virus.
After things got serious, German Chancellor Angela Merkel harshened her rhetoric considerably: “This is serious. And we must take it seriously,” she told the public. “There has been no such challenge to our country since German reunification – no, not since the Second World War II – that relies so heavily on us all working together in solidarity.”
Helge Braun, Angela Merkel’s Chief of Staff, warned that Germany may soon require an almost full lockdown like Italy, Spain and France.
“We will look at the behaviour of the people this weekend,” Braun told Spiegel magazine.
“Unless everyone fundamentally changes their behaviour, we won’t avoid tougher measures and sanctions,” said the Baden-Württemberg premier, Winfried Kretschmann.
Different federal lands reacted differently, but experts predict that the spread of the virus in Germany will be comparable to Italy.
Public places, clubs and kindergartens are already closed. There are no regulations for quarantine – some companies are making them up themselves, a German source told UWI. Businesses are afraid they will not get the compensation. Germany is not prepared at all for such a serious pandemic, the source suggested.
Merkel realised this fact, saying that if matters get worse, German hospitals would be “completely overwhelmed if too many patients were admitted in a short time.”
“This is what an epidemic shows us: how vulnerable we all are, how dependent on the considerate behavior of others.” Merkel said
“Our idea of normality, of public life, of social interaction — all of this is being tested like never before,” she said.
On Monday evening, March 16, French President Emmanuel Macron issued a new television address to the nation, announcing restrictive measures in the country in response to the spread of the Covid-19 epidemic.
Adresse aux Français. https://t.co/V0kwXbU79J
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) March 16, 2020
Macron announced the postponement of the second round of municipal elections, not specifying for how long. Earlier this afternoon, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe held consultations with the heads of political parties and parliamentary groups and proposed that a second round of elections be scheduled for 21 June instead of next Sunday, 22 March.
Macron quickly realized that tough measures were needed and that democracy would not work here: he promised to severely punish quarantine violations. According to the latest data, a quarantine violation will result in a €38 ($42) fine.
“We must react strongly, and reorganise ourselves continually. We need to anticipate.”
As a coercive measure “after consultation with experts”, the President announced new restrictive measures, which will take effect from March 17 and will last “at least” 15 days. According to the latest data, the quarantine will be extended.
These measures relate to the ban on any meetings in the street or indoors: meetings with friends and relatives will have to be “restricted” – only shopping for food, visits to doctors or trips to work for those who can not work remotely. At the same time, the head of state promised that control would be kept over city streets.
Macron also tweeted that funding for medicine would be increased.
La crise du COVID-19 nous rappelle le caractère vital de la recherche scientifique et la nécessité d'investir massivement pour le long terme. J'ai décidé d’augmenter de 5 milliards d'euros notre effort de recherche, effort inédit depuis la période de l’après-guerre.
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) March 19, 2020
According to a UWI interlocutor from Paris, although tougher measures are justified, they should have been introduced earlier. At the moment, the French fear that the country’s globalist elites will take advantage of the epidemic to push neoliberal laws in parallel with social guarantees – once the situation changes, the government will say that the state can not cope with either pensions or social payments after such a blow, giving them the opportunity to privatize even more state assets.
So far, the situation is unlikely to change the usual liberal capitalist system – but perhaps the fears of Parisians are justified.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who tweeted the #StayHomeSaveLives hashtag, announced that all restaurants, bars, sports centres and other public facilities in Britain will be closed starting Saturday.
We are telling cafes, pubs, bars and restaurants to close tonight as soon as they reasonably can, and not to open tomorrow.
As far as possible we want you to stay at home.
That’s how we can protect our NHS and save lives.
— Boris Johnson #StayHomeSaveLives (@BorisJohnson) March 20, 2020
“These are places where people come together, and indeed the whole purpose of these businesses in many cases is to bring people together. But, the sad thing is, I’m afraid today for now at least physically we need to keep people apart.”
Can this be considered a serious measure? It seems more like a half-measure that could threaten the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. While Europeans across the continent were shutting down schools and putting soldiers on the streets to enforce strict quarantine rules, the British government’s official advice to its citizens was, in effect, to remain calm.
Britain’s restrained response was driven by the controversial theory adopted by leading British government scientists: that the best way to alleviate the long-term effects of a coronavirus pandemic was to allow the virus to spread naturally to strengthen herd immunity; therefore no serious action was needed.
The theory, however, quickly disintegrated into a violent reality.
As Foreign Policy writes, “a new analysis by immunologists at Imperial College London and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine of the impact of the coronavirus in Italy suggested that up to 30 percent of patients hospitalized with the virus would require intensive care treatment. Those numbers, if repeated in the U.K., would quickly overwhelm Britain’s state-run National Health Service.”
The UK’s irresponsible approach leaves the elderly and those who suffer from chronic diseases at the mercy of the epidemic, and has an uncomofortable proximity to Nazi ideology. While Italy is trying to survive, British scientists and sociologists have referred to the theory of ‘behavioural fatigue’, which suggests that if people are not motivated, they will still violate quarantine.
Jeremy Corbyn blasted the government for being “complacent” and “well behind the curve” in its handling of the coronavirus outbreak.
Johnson admitted after just a few days that this kind of devotion is ineffective, and Britain needs “drastic action.”
As far back as March 17, Hungary’s borders have been closed to non-Hungarians and distance learning has been introduced.
According to a UWI source in Budapest, the biggest problem in Hungary is “fear of panic.” “We don’t really fear the virus. But the economy will be crushed. It will have a deep impact on the political situation, at least within Fidesz,” he told us.
At the same time, the Polish Prime Minister announced an epidemic regime in the country because of coronavirus, although there are far fewer cases there than in the UK.
In the Czech Republic, according to another source, people are limiting themselves to going to the store, and always while wearing masks. Simple walks in the streets are being punished by the police for safety reasons.
Ukraine has also taken quarantine efforts very seriously.
This epidemic will hopefully teach Europe some important lessons, despite the reluctance of leadership.
The first month of the epidemic revealed the inadequacies of Western-type “democracies” based on individualism, private property and liberalism; since then, we have witnessed the global economic recession and the collapse of the world stock market.
Western “democratic countries” have already failed the test, and various power groups are trying to take advantage of the situation leading to further agony. For example, to push an ecological agenda in the midst of a plague like the Guardian has.
Coronavirus is a good test for sovereignty. It is those countries that care about people rather than capital who have not been afraid to introduce quarantines and emergency regimes
As UWI wrote earlier, there are essentially only two possible reactions to the catastrophe: a more or less socialist model that puts people first, and a model of the “enlightened west” that shifts from one extreme to another – from human rights to psuedo-Nazism. The latter model has completely failed – not only were these governments unable to provide health care for their own citizens, they were also unable to help their neighbors despite their alleged “pan-European solidarity.”
The fight against the epidemic went beyond the simple choice of health care methods – it became a truly anthropological choice – between a liberal (individualistic) model and collective mutual assistance. As an illustration, the United States is continuing to sanction Iran despite the virus, undoubtedly taking thousands of lives, while the so-called “totalitarian” states of China and Cuba are actively engaged in solidarity.
Two opposite camps are forming: effective populist (so-called “radical”/”totalitarian” (left or right) governments) and greedy liberal regimes.
As UWI wrote earlier, only large companies can survive in critical conditions, a situation which will be followed by crisis, unemployment and criminality comparable to the 1930s.
In conditions of survival, the illusion of human rights and democratic freedoms are revealed to be little more than smoke and mirrors.
The Coronavirus has clearly demonstrated that capitalism is not in the best interests of the majority of the people. The elites can no longer hold the world back with old illusions, and now, that fact is becoming clear to everyone.
It is worth noting that this kind of global financial and economic crisis was expected long before the Coronavirus and the oil price collapse.
In summary, it is now more clear than ever that globalization and transnational corporations cannot cope with real threats to humanity – on the contrary, they have left the world fragile and unprotected.
Thankfully, a new era is dawning.
Europe still has a chance to recreate itself as a sovereign geopolitical pole with its own army, factories and medical equipment. This is the only way for Europe to survive the challenges of war and epidemic.