Colm Quinn explains in Foreign Policy:
On Wednesday, World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said his organization is “very concerned about rising cases in low- and middle-income countries,” as the WHO reported the highest daily jump in new coronavirus cases globally since the pandemic began.
While rich countries strategize on reopening, it’s the poorer ones that are seeing the number of new cases jump: Of the top ten countries with the highest daily jump in coronavirus cases yesterday, only one high-income country—the United States—made the list.
To see why Tedros is worried, look at Brazil. The country now has the third-highest number of coronavirus cases globally and is close to overtaking Russia in second place. Yesterday, Brazil recorded more than 20,000 new infections.
Some developing countries, such as Vietnam, have weathered the crisis far better than wealthier ones; others, like Liberia, have provided valuable lessons in controlling outbreaks based on their past experiences with diseases such as Ebola. Still, as the number of infections rises, poorer governments will face even more daunting challenges.
For some countries, simply accessing regularly running water is a challenge, especially when regular handwashing has become so important to coronavirus prevention. Last week, Alan Nicol wrote in FP about Ethiopia’s water woes, and what can be done to fix the problem.
Poor governance is also causing harm. Reporting for FP from Pakistan, Neha Maqsood writes, a hesitant government has left the poorest citizens relying on charity rather than state assistance.
Does social distancing do more harm than good? Lockdowns hurt economies in poorer countries, too. As Mushfiq Mobarak and Zachary Barnett-Howell argued in FP in April, “imposing strict lockdowns in poor countries—where people depend on daily hands-on labor to feed their families—could lead to as many deaths from deprivation and preventable diseases as from COVID-19.”
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