Could Covid-19 change situation in Ukraine for the better?

Author : Iryna Slavinska

Source : 112 Ukraine

Pandemic revealed many important issues in the global economy and society
23:21, 17 March 2020

In recent days, the parallels between the current coronavirus and the "black death" of 1346-1353 have become very popular. This refers to the plague epidemic that has killed half of Europe. With the end of this scourge, a period has come, which we call the Renaissance. And the Middle Ages, respectively, were left out in history. And this has benefited all of humanity, so now incorrigible optimists always emphasize that "everything happens for the better." Even pestilence.

I will not play captain evidence, recalling that the rise of Europe, which began at the end of the XIV century, was associated with a decrease in the authority of the Catholic Church. It was the church that could not explain to Europeans why the Creator takes the life of every second person and why the plague does not leave from prayers, repentance and scourging.

As soon as the influence of the church was weakened, art and science received new incentives for development. Active life from villages and monasteries shifted to cities, which began to develop rapidly and transfer the reins of power into the hands of secular authorities. In other words, a process of development of local self-government has launched.

But back to the coronavirus. I do not think that there is a significant similarity between the fourteenth and twenty-first centuries. First of all, because in our time on the civilizational path of mankind there is no stumbling block in the form of a retrograde institution, which acted as a dominant and formed the agenda, as is now customary to say.

We have been secularized and free for a long time, we have changed church dogmas for law and order, for the moral and ethical principles of dormitory. If Covid-19 will change something for the better, then it is precisely the above. Law. Right. Morality.

However, a pandemic may not change anything. In the end, the scale of its influence will correlate with the scale of the victims and damage, as well as with the hourly duration.

I would rather compare the current Chinese flu with the Spanish flu. There is also no clear resemblance here: the 1918 pandemic was generated by the First World War, namely, unsanitary conditions of the front, poor nutrition, crowded military camps and refugee camps. Returning home, the soldiers carried a virus with them. As a result, according to various estimates, up to 5.3% of the world's population died. The current Covid-19, fortunately, never dreamed of such a "result".

And it’s good that then, a hundred years ago, the world did not know globalization, was not stitched by constant and all-encompassing contacts between countries and continents. However, this only delayed the victory of the disease, and did not make it impossible. The epidemic still reached all corners to which it "planned" to get. Just like the medieval plague, it also did well without regular air, road and rail links.

Related: Covid-2019: Zelensky introduces repayment holidays for businesses

And another important point. The Spanish flu pandemic swept the world that had just emerged from World War II, when critical government resources were diverted to military needs. The concept of public health was in its infancy, and in many countries only middle-class or wealthy patients could afford a visit to the doctor.

That flu killed many people who lived in real slums, or at least just in poor areas. It killed those who ate poorly and lived without basic sanitary facilities. The victims of the "Spanish flu" usually had a history of more than one disease. In the end, the epidemic spurred the creation of health systems in the developed countries of the world, as it came to European governments that the poor and socially insecure majority posed a mortal threat to the well-fed and wealthy minority.

But Covid-19 came from a world where there is no such striking stratification of the poor and the rich. And, in fact, that is why China and South Korea have already suspended the spread of the infection in their territory. Good medicine is the best prevention, as well as responsible authority.

But this, unfortunately, is not about Ukraine, which lags behind its neighbors on the planet at every step - with quarantine, and with the closure of borders, and with the receipt of tests, and with the technological equipment of hospitals. Our parody of the boxes of the infectious diseases departments (in particular in Chernivtsi, where the first Covid-19 patient was reported) gives us little hope that we will get out of this story with minimal losses.

Yet hope dies last. Even in coronavirus conditions. When I wrote above that the epidemic is a chance to change the law and the right for the better, I had in mind primarily Ukraine. We now have a really turning point: to provide citizens with quality medical care or ... Or lose to the virus.

Among other things, we could lose thanks to people who rant about the imminent death of pensioners - instead of a detailed report on preventive measures designed to curb the spread of the epidemic. And instead of a report (already from law enforcement) on the number of detained officials who sabotaged work, plundered funds and equipment, misinformed, speculated or delayed time. In China, they would be dealt with quickly.

Although this is a rather primitive view of the problem, it is argued that China stopped the disease thanks to punitive measures and a totalitarian arrangement. No, the dictatorship did not play a decisive role in the fight against coronavirus. It was speed, mobility, consistency in decision making and their implementation. To ensure all this, it is not at all necessary to abandon democracy.

After all, it is difficult to call South Korea a state with an authoritarian regime. But despite the fact that since the beginning of the epidemic in Korea, there were more cases of the disease than in Iran, at present – there are three times less dead. Quick diagnostics is the secret to the success of a recovering Seoul.

But that is not all. The epidemic revealed the ability (or lack thereof) of various societies to tolerate fellow citizens who had the misfortune (and not fault) to catch Covid-19. Countries that adhere to not only individual, but also collective hygiene have benefited. That is, those with resistance to manifestations of hatred towards patients. Those who realized that hatred (fear, indignation, the desire to fence themselves off) is precisely the main infection.

And this is the question of the ethical attitude towards others, over which the Ukrainians, as it turned out, should work hard.

Because while in other countries advertisements are hanging on the doors of apartment buildings offering free help to elderly neighbors (delivering food from a supermarket, etc.), in Ukraine the famous air carrier has raised the price of tickets to $ 1,500 in recent days. So, we still have a lot of work ahead to build a normal interaction between ourselves and our neighbors, between ourselves and the world.

But the world itself has different kinds of reflection. About, in particular, why modern economies have shown such fragility under conditions of coronavirus stress. And why global information networks from an instrument of unity have turned into an effective means of escalating panic. And what to do next with the problems of migrants. And how to prevent or minimize subsequent epidemics. And how to get out of any test with dignity.

Related: Ukraine to temporarily suspend operation of subway on March 18

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