COVID-19, or as it has colloquially come to be known as coronavirus began on December 31st, 2019, when China notified the World Health Organization of a rise in pneumonia cases with an unknown cause.
On January 3rd, China reported a total of 44 suspected patients, after, two days earlier, having closed the Huanan seafood market, suspected to be the source of the mystery disease, as some of the patients presenting with the pneumonia-like illness were dealers or vendors at the market. On January 7th, China identified a new coronavirus as cause of the outbreak.
Since then, the media hysteria and chaotic actions of governments around the world have put the globe into state of a constant crisis. Governments are imposing lockdowns and limit freedoms of their citizens. The situation is further fueled by the economic crisis and the dramatic fall of oil prices. MSM media outlets release daily reports counting confirmed COVID-19 cases and associated deaths (that are in fact less than from the seasonal influenza illnesses).
Every day more and more critical voices surface in the public sphere questioning the scale of the ‘COVID-19′ threat painted by MSM and the relevance of draconian measures imposed by some governments that damage interests of their citizens and their countries’ economies.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause varying levels of disease, from common colds to severe fatal diseases. Usually found in animals, some can infect humans and transmit between humans. Both SARS and MERS are caused by a coronavirus.
The first death to COVID-19 happened on January 9th, in China. Since then, other patients prior to the announcement have been tracked, with some saying it originated in November 2019, while others even going further back to September 2019.
As of March 30th, there have been upwards of 724,000 cases worldwide, and 34,000 have died, while 152,000 have recovered.
The results of the 2018-2019 influenza season in the United States for comparison (35,520,883 cases and 34,157 deaths):
Since it began, the most affected countries became the US, Italy, both surpassing China’s total COVID-19 cases, and Spain on its way to do so in days, or as early as of March 31st.
As of March 25th, Hubei province, where the virus originated released its lockdown, with only Wuhan, the central city, remains in quarantine until April 8th.
On March 28th, some travel restrictions to Wuhan were also lifted, allowing people limited travel, after the entire province was almost entirely closed for almost two months.
As of March 30th, China has 81,470 cases, and 3,304 deaths reported. Active are less than 2,500 cases, with everybody else recovered.
In order to counter the adverse economic effects, China’s central bank cut an interest rate on loans to banks by the largest margin in five years and injected 50 billion yuan (US$7 billion) into the financial system to help the world’s second-largest economy weather the coronavirus impact.
The People’s Bank of China (PBoC) said it launched a 50-billion-yuan reverse repurchase operation on Monday and lowered the seven-day reverse repurchase rate from 2.40% to 2.20%.
It was the “largest cut since 2015 and takes the 7-day reverse repo rate to its lowest on record”, said Julian Evans-Pritchard, senior China economist at Capital Economics.
“By offering funds at a lower rate, the PBoC will be able to keep market interbank rates low even as the liquidity from the RRR (reserve requirement ratio) cuts is absorbed by the banking system,” he said.
Economists predict China’s GDP may shrink 10% in the first quarter of this year, the worst contraction since 1976. With Europe and America wrestling with their own epidemics, demand for China’s manufactured goods has collapsed—aside from masks and medical equipment and supplies.
China was where COVID-19 originated, and it expectedly caught it unaware, but at the same time, a larger fallout was limited, since prompt and harsh measures on lockdown were undertaken.
In comparison, the US, appeared to have entirely underestimated the possibly spread of the infection, and, instead of undertaking serious measures to prepare, spent its time attempting to blame China for the virus, trying to rename it to “Wuhan Virus”, “Chinese Virus” and what not.
There is a wide list of what the US is currently undertaking in fighting the spread, and assisting its citizens in the fight against COVID-19.
There are lockdowns in most of the states, and the situation is the most adverse in New York State, with the biggest share of the country’s cases being registered there.
As of March 30th, the US has upwards of 140,000 cases, and nearly 2,500 deaths. If the tendency of its growth continues, it could potentially double the total cases in Italy, which was, up until recently the most affected country.
At the same time, it’s important to note that the death rate from the COVID-19 in the US is very low, especially if one compares it to those in Italy.
It will likely double China’s numbers in a matter of days.
The initial measure in order to preserve the economy was this: US President Donald Trump signed a $8.3 billion coronavirus aid package.
✓ SIGNED by @realdonaldtrump
The coronavirus emergency funding package provides an aggressive surge in resources to [combat + contain] the virus. pic.twitter.com/LKASgVxejG
— Senate Republicans (@SenateGOP) March 6, 2020
Trump initially sought only $2 billion to fight the virus, but Congress quadrupling that amount in its version of the bill.
According to CNBC, more than $3 billion will go to vaccine research, development, and therapeutics. Around $2.2 billion will go to preparedness and prevention efforts, and $1 billion will be used to purchase medical supplies and support Community Health Centers.
The spending measure also includes language that opens remote telehealth services to people on Medicare, or US adults over the age of 65.
The key thing to take away is that people on Medicare are, more or less, taken care of – those without health insurances are not so fortunate.
On March 27th, Trump signed a $2.2 trillion economic rescue bill to help lift the economy, alongside his calls that everything should be back to normal by April 12th, so that people can go to church on Easter, and also back to work.
The signing took place after the Democratic-led House of Representatives approved the sweeping package by a voice vote earlier in the day, despite a procedural challenge from Republican Representative Thomas Massie, who wanted a formal recorded vote.
The bill is the largest rescue package in US history. Addressing the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, the legislation offers direct payments to most Americans and special financing for big and small businesses.
“This is a pandemic that we haven’t even seen for over 100 years in our country. It’s really such a tragedy. So we had to take important action that puts families first and workers first and that’s what we did,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.
“Next, we’ll go from emergency mitigation to recovery,” Pelosi said.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo warned that the newly approved federal funding for states would not be enough to cover the need in New York, where hospitals are already being overwhelmed with patients.
“The congressional action, in my opinion, simply failed to address the governmental need,” Cuomo told reporters.
New York estimates it will lose $10bn to $15bn in revenue because of the economic slowdown. The state would receive $5bn from the federal rescue bill passed by Congress but only for COVID-19 response, not lost revenue, Cuomo said.
And still, the lockdown and so on, shows what’s the biggest interest for most governors and, even, the Trump Administration: economic stability, and profit. They try to contain the current hysteria over the outbreak in an effort to secure the US economy and avoid imposing too much restrictions.
The situation is very different in Russia. The country still has a very low number of confirmed cases, most of them are in Moscow.
As of the midday of March 30, there were only 1,836 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Russia and 10 deaths only. A majority of them are people of older age and with system problems with the health.
There were 302 new Covid-19 cases across Russia and 212 cases in Moscow over the past 24 hours. Moscow authorities say that 102 of the new COVID-19 patients were between the ages of 18 and 40.
On March 29 evening, Moscow was put on mandatory lockdown, from March 30, residents of the city will be only allowed to leave their homes in cases of absolute necessity. Under the rules, people would be allowed to only leave home for medical emergencies or to buy groceries or medication and only from the nearest shops and pharmacies. People can still leave the capital, and go to work (if this is needed). People go leave the 100m radius from their home.
The authorities also plan to introduce a “smart control system,” after which residents won’t be allowed to leave their homes without permits. Russia is one of the countries that have almost been not affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.
Such a decision caused a large wave of criticism from the public as it violates the Russian Constitution. Many saw it as a kind of political move to strengthen the power of the circles that include such persons as Moscow major Sergey Sobyanin that includes such controversial persons as Herman Gref (CEO of Sberbank of Russia), Elvira Nabiullina (President of the Central Bank of Russia). This circle is well known for its pro-Western, neo-liberal views and ties with the global elites.
Modern “liberalism” (often called “neo-liberalism”) is the ideology of serving to global financial monopolies and market speculators in general. The goal of such “liberals” is to increase their personal level of consumption with the minimal possible intellectual and physical work, using the margin simplification of modern communications and IT technologies, for satisfying their selfish, mainly bodily, desires covering them under the guise of post-modern sophistry. Thus, they swallow public resources undermining the steadily development of the humanity.
Such weakly justified actions may lead to an increase of social tensions in the area of Moscow city, and if such approaches are employed in other regions – across the entire coutnry.
The senator, head of the Federation Council committee on constitutional law and state building, Andrei Klishas, said that the regional authorities did not have the right to impose such restrictions in accordance with the Constitution.
Nonetheless, the government tolerates these violations made under the pretext of combating the COVID-19 pandemic.
On March 30th, the Russian government approved amendments to tighten liability for quarantine violations, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said.
“Now our main task is to work ahead of the curve, to minimize the spread of the virus,” he said at a meeting with deputy prime ministers.
In total, 13 measures were introduced in fighting COVID-19 and its adverse economic effects, but mostly to support people’s well-being.
- Nationwide paid leave starting week commencing March 28
- The vote on constitutional changes has been postponed from April 22 until further notice
- All social benefits are to be extended automatically; no documentation required
- All families that qualify for maternity benefits are to get an additional 5,000 rubles (ca. $63) monthly for each child under 3 for the next three months starting from April, 2020.
- All employees on sick leave will not have their pay reduced below the minimum wage – this provision will last through 2020
- The new maximum unemployment benefit pay will be set at 12,130 rubles (ca. $154)
- All private loans and mortgage payments are to be frozen for borrowers who provide evidence of a more than 30% decline in the ability to repay (failure of business, salary-related issues, etc.)
- Concerning businesses suffering through the COVID-19 outbreak, the new measures are as follows:
- Small and midsize businesses: tax payments – aside from value added tax – are to be postponed for six months.
- Microbusinesses: an additional postponing of insurance payments for six months.
- A six-month delay in loan payments for all small and midsize businesses
- Additional measures for strengthening small businesses are to be introduced
- A six-month moratorium on bankruptcy claims for businesses operating in areas hardest hit by the outbreak
- Dividend tax rate is to indefinitely be increased to 15 percent in case of money taken out of the country
- Returns on each personal investment, including bank deposits and stocks exceeding the total sum of 1 million rubles (ca. $12,600), are to indefinitely be taxed 13%.
Experts warn that the large-scale lockdown across Russia and the lack of measures needed to contain the negative economic impact of such a decision will cause the damage to the economy, especially small and medium business.
Furthermore, these developments come amid the global economic crisis, the Saudi attack on Russia’s oil producers, and the remained sanction pressure from the US and the EU. In this conditions, the current Russian response to the COVID-19 situation looks questionable and raises questions regarding what goals are pursued by such moves.
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