Part 4: Why are we planning to go back to “normal” anyway? INEQUALITY

It did not start where it was supposed to start.

Covid-19 did not come from the depths of the Congo jungle or the sands of South Sudan where unknown men live to be 200 years old creating concoctions with mud leaves and bones from dead tigers! Oh yes, mix this with the green primate and you have Ebola or AIDS as the output!

It’s a narrative we have heard many times and jesting aside the novel coronavirus did not start in what is considered the poorest continent on earth in terms of poverty…yet the richest in terms of its resources.

So it’s the topsy-turvy nature that Covid-19 originated in the second largest economy in the world, China.

So what of inequality? Well, this is on a global scale where wealthy nations have been impacted more at this point in time compared to the least wealthy nations. We have to take notice of this because the complacency across the western nations and efficiency across the rest of the world speaks volumes.

World Health Organisation (mid May 2020)

Note; Africa is a continent of 1,300 million people and at approx. 61,000 cases puts things into perspective. The UK alone with a population of 66 million people has approx. 250,000 cases.

Africa is a continent of 1,300 million people and has approx 61,000 confirmed cases. Europe has a population of 741m people and 1.8m confirmed cases. A statistic that is unexpected.

We may say it’s a leveller in terms of the wealth gap but that’s not the whole story.

The virus does not respect class or race

Photo by Alvin Balemesa on Unsplash

Hmm, no. It’s not easy writing this post on many levels. Those on the frontline trying to save lives are dying more and looking deeper still the number from ethnic minorities has raised alarm bells. If you are like me then I supposedly have a higher probability of dying from Covid-19 compared to somebody of similar health who is of European descent.

This bugs me as the news has been cloudy on this respect but it’s also been real in terms of the number deaths on the frontline in terms of ethnic minorities . I’ve seen a multitude of metrics and too many to show here. So what is correct?

“When aristocracy and celebrity were hit it was as though this virus was showing us that nobody is immune whether you are a billionaire or a minimum wage worker…then we realised that inequality told us differently”

With the unemployment rate in the UK skyrocketing and the request that if you are furloughed or “sitting around”go and pick some apples and grapes to “feed the nation” there are different factors being played out. Maybe there are some MPs available to pull some potatoes from the ground on a nice hot day like this? 🙌

Is the face of inequality changing before our eyes, after all to be furloughed is a rung above the ladder from the cash economy which as I’ve mentioned before; these people have never stopped working.

The invisible within the wealthy nations

The mirror reflecting Covid-19 is showing that the wealthy are winning and the “shadows” are paying the price in this pandemic.

Photo by Zane Lee on Unsplash

The most affected people live in the poorest areas and don’t have any option but to go to work as they are on the front line doing essential jobs such as working in supermarkets, bus drivers, cleaning jobs etc and if they cannot go to work and not get money from elsewhere they will find other jobs to bring in cash.

A stark comparison of inequality in the UK can be seen in care homes. An example in middle England where a resident pays £1500 per week to stay with onsite services like yoga teachers, various other activities and a stock of PPE bought to last two months suffered no Covid-19 deaths. A few miles up the road a care home with considerably less resources suffered 15 deaths. A care home is there to shield and protect our respected older population so why is this happening?

It costs to be able to stay alive.

It may sound dramatic in some ways but the reality shows this is the case and the invisible will suffer more.

We don’t know why

Photo by Emily Morter on Unsplash

The UK news briefings continue — (I don’t tune in like I used and I don’t think all the government folk do as well!) “We are still going through data, looking at factors like Vitamin D and other factors but we are not sure why ethnic minorities are more affected.” So I thought about this logically and came up with the following:

The factors of inequality were here before Coronavirus appeared. They will be here a long time after unless the core underlying symptoms in society are addressed

Further still I’m no expert by any means but after discussions, reading news stories and some simple thought:

  • More NHS workers are from ethnic minorities as a proportion compared to the indigenous population
  • Social, economic, regional — housing, social, health, poverty
  • Caring and health, delivery workers, drivers and those working in retail
  • Health conditions — greater prevalence of hypertension, diabetes, and coronary heart disease, asthma, hypertension, kidney disease…

The stats are the stats and can be debated forever but the underlying conditions have kind of been ignored. There has always been inequality and now this has come to light with Covid-19 as the focus.

The conclusion

Every man and his dog has an opinion and that’s the truth.

Ethnic minorities are weaker and more susceptible to Coronavirus than other demographics. I’m not convinced.

China conspiracy is responsible for Coronavirus. Again, not buying it.

The current wealthy nations of the world will be hit hardest in the long run?
Hmm, what do you think?

Let’s revisit some definitions we started off with in Part 1 and assess the outlook:

Photo by Nicolas Solerieu on Unsplash

The normalist:
Accepts that the virus is just part of the journey and that we need to return to the status-quo and does not even register that inequality has been at the very heart of the current crisis.

The new-normalist:
It’s been a wakeup call for sure but “surely 50% of those furloughed will not lose their jobs (somehow the government will make it work) and being a fruit picker for the summer was just a throwaway statement”. But there is a recognition that inequality of some sort could hit you.

The new-por-tunist:
Looks not just a local level but also the impact on a global level. Fundamentally questions the inequalities that have been exposed in society. There is a possibility of rewriting the narrative and really knows that something has to change and new-normal is just a stop gap leaving gaping holes for the future.

Whatever your view the narrative and pain being played out in terms of what we hear is based in inequality — whether PPE, people, regions, countries or continents we always somehow miss the equality of being humans. We do not have to agree how we get there but knowing change has to happen is a step in the right direction.

Thanks for reading 🙂

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