The situation is critical. And it’ll get worse before it gets better. This afternoon, my employer sent a bunch of us home to self-isolate for 15 days. Normally I would rejoice at such news, but in this context I’m not rejoicing AT ALL. I’m thinking this might be the first step before a wave of lay-offs. Companies big and small – not to mention individuals, freelancers, entrepreneurs, the self-employed, aid organizations, families – are hemorrhaging money now and will hemorrhage even more later. I’m one of the lucky ones (that is, if I don’t lose my job.) But how are migrants, refugees, the weak, poor and vulnerable managing? Now, more than ever, we need compassionate governments with humanitarian principles (and a generous safety net.)
It happened so fast (disasters usually do.) Why were we caught unawares? Why did governments respond so late? Had they learned and taken away nothing from past viral epidemics? Singapore and South Korea and Hong Kong were on it straightaway and managed to contain Covid-19 quickly.
Below is a link to Bill Gates’ prescient TED Talk in which he urged greater preparedness for the next epidemic. He spoke in March 2015, exactly 5 years ago. No one listened.
Walking through my neighborhood on my way to the grocery store this afternoon (with my government-decreed travel document in my pocket), I took a few photos. The streets were deserted.
Here’s Bill. The only sane man on the planet??