Since March 11, the epidemic of Covid-19 coronavirus has become a pandemic. The disease is now spreading at a frightening speed, exacerbating with it the gaps and inequalities in many parts of the world.
While many choose to be oblivious to this reality and would rather believe that the Coronavirus is “blind to inequalities and attacks indiscriminately the poor and the privileged”, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
In developed countries where massive lockdowns and work-related measures have been implemented urging millions to work from home, most low-wage jobs – cashiers, domestic workers, waiters…- cannot be completed remotely. Taking into consideration the insubstantial social packages (sick leaves etc.) that these jobs come with, millions of households find themselves struggling financially, some of them even worried about not having enough cash to be prepared for a lengthy self-quarantine. Bills passing mandatory sick day leaves could help alleviate some of this burden. Millions of people still continue to work, aware of the possibly fatal health repercussions, for their day-to-day necessities. At the time this article is being written, most affected countries so far are developed countries with supposedly strong social systems, but where the coronavirus has exposed an unbelievably weak social safety net.
In countries where the divide between the rich and the poor is already profound, inequalities in access to healthcare has been put under sharp focus. Moreover, moving to virtual learning exposed a dramatic digital divide even in the world’s most developed countries where millions of students don’t have access to a computer or internet connection. In countries like Qatar, Qatar Charity has partnered with local ministries to provide free laptops for home-schooled students. In the United States, a national internet provider is offering free broadband and WiFi internet access nationwide to students impacted by the shutdown.
As the disease is paving its way across less privileged countries where inequalities touch every aspect of life, aggressive anticipatory measures have to be taken before these inequalities reach the point where even the right to life is compromised.