UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has spelled it out
“The world is at breaking point. [This pandemic] has been likened to an X-ray, revealing fractures in the fragile skeleton of the societies we have built. It is exposing fallacies and falsehoods everywhere: The lie that free markets can deliver healthcare for all; the fiction that unpaid care work is not work; the delusion that we live in a post-racist world; the myth that we are all in the same boat, because while we are all floating on the same sea, it’s clear that some are in superyachts while others are clinging to the floating debris.”
Here in Malawi we know we are not in a superyacht. The coronavirus is relentlessly taking its toll, even though numbers of recorded cases (4,658) and recorded deaths (146) are low by global standards. Still, it is spreading and neither government nor people can risk being complacent.
The latest government-announced restrictions outlaw gatherings of more than 10 people and require masks to be worn in public, with defaulters to be arrested. Schools and colleges remain closed which, in a country with a largely youthful population, means that much normal activity has ground to a halt. Knock-on effects are chipping away at the economy, leaving more and more people exposed to the poverty that is never far away.
“Clinging to floating debris” is all too apt a picture as Malawians ask themselves how will they survive? The inequality prevailing in our global community was already reaching obscene levels. These are thrown further into relief by the current pandemic. Will it be a wake-up call for our global village?