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Global effort key in war on Covid-19

Thursday April 2 2020


Montefiore Medical Center nurses call for N95 masks and other ‘critical’ PPE to handle the coronavirus (Covid-19) on April 1, 2020, in New York. PHOTO | BRYAN R. SMITH | AFP 

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United States President Donald Trump, the most prominent denier of the novel coronavirus, has finally come around to the reality of the pandemic, which is sweeping through his country.

After months of playing down the threat of the virus while hounding China with a plethora of accusations, President Trump recently delivered a grim concession to the world that the US could be up against unprecedented health, social and economic challenges.

Trump’s turnaround could be a significant breakthrough in the global efforts to contain the virus and the disease it causes, Covid-19.

Last week’s meeting of foreign ministers of the seven most advanced economies (G7) failed to issue a joint statement after the US insisted on Covid-19 being called the “Wuhan virus”, to the consternation of the other countries and contrary to the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines.

Later, an extraordinary G20 Summit on the coronavirus could not commit to the request by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on the doubling of its funding, even as more cash-strapped nations with a heavy disease burden turned to the institution for help.



IMF has since indicated that over 70 countries, mainly developing ones, have applied for emergency credit to deal with Covid-19.

Meanwhile, the disease continues to spread, taking more lives. According to Worldometer, which tracks the pandemic, it has so far infected over 876,348 people in 203 countries and territories and killed 43,521.

The US has become the new Covid-19 epicentre with more than 189,000 infections and 4,000 deaths.

The two top economies, America and China, ought to boost global efforts against Covid-19.

Stigmatisation, blame game and power politics between Washington and Beijing have proven a hindrance to cushioning the world from the virus sting.

There are many gaps regarding communication and cooperation on Covid-19 preparedness and response.

From European countries such as Italy, Spain, Germany and United Kingdom to the US, countries are seemingly struggling to achieve the level of epidemic controls earlier seen in China.

Equally, the disease has disrupted the industrial production and global value chains in unmatched ways.


Deemed to be the world factory, China has since resumed industrial activity.

Much of the critical equipment, drugs and other medical products needed in the management of Covid-19, as well as other daily necessities, are sourced from the Asian country.

Beijing should, therefore, continue with the streak of production and sharing of these essential commodities with the affected countries.

Both China and the US should judiciously exercise their influence within the ranks of the United Nations and other multilateral platforms and engineer targeted responses that go beyond epidemics control into cushioning the global economy from collapse.

In the absence of further synergies, the world is likely to see more damage from the virus.

While Africa has so far recorded 5,797 cases and 96 deaths, the WHO has warned that weak public health systems make the continent quite vulnerable and could be the next vortex of the Covid-19 storm.

The UN has warned of impending global instability, unrest and conflict as a result of the disease.


The world should not witness another migrant crises, mass starvation or a sicker population.

Even as we await an international response, every country must do all within its ability to prevent the spread of the disease.

Kenya on Thursday announced 29 new infections, the highest recorded in 24 hours, and the third death from the coronavirus.

With a total patient load of 110, the country is at a critical point in the transmissions curve. The government has since ramped up testing to identify and curb further risks.

But even as the State does its part, no campaign of this magnitude can succeed without sustained public cooperation and participation.

Countries that have been successful in stemming the spread of Covid-19, like China, also have some of the most disciplined populations.

Without nudging the country into more drastic measures, Kenyans should be self-disciplined, observing the stipulated guidelines such as social distancing, personal hygiene and self-isolation if experiencing Covid-19-like symptoms.

Finally, the two recoveries reported in the country so far are clear indications that Covid-19 is beatable.

The best strategy to beat it, however, is avoiding infection, not living through it. Kenyans literally hold their future in their hands.

Choosing to follow expert advice or not will make the ultimate difference.

Mr Cavince is a PhD student in international relations. [email protected]