AKTUÁLNÍ SITUACE S KORONAVIROVOU PANDEMIÍ VE SVĚTĚ
Nárůst počtu nakažených může ovlivnit odolnost vůčí přírodním a jiným katastrofám, a proto je třeba na riziko jiných katastrof než je pandemie koronaviru nezapomínat a stále dbát na zvyšování odolnosti a připravenost na možné katastrofy. Je nejen třeba udržovat a zlepšovat prevenci a připravenost na přírodní a jiné katastrofy, ale také zajistit financování těchto aktivit. To může být obtížné v době, kdy většina zemí musí utrácet enrmní finanční prostředky na lpagření proti pandemii koronaviru.
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ILAN KELMAN: COVID‐19: what is the disaster?
The COVID‐19 pandemic conforms to key baseline conclusions which have emerged
from disaster anthropology over past decades. First, that natural disasters rarely exist,
because disasters are social, arising from a combination of hazard and vulnerability,
with vulnerability as the causative factor. Second, that the disaster occurs at multiple
levels simultaneously, with responses to a hazard exposing as many vulnerability problems
as the original hazard.
Regarding the misnomer 'natural disaster', the hazard here is the new coronavirus
which could have been dealt with before it became an epidemic or a pandemic. At its
origin in Wuhan, China, doctors swiftly identified the emergence of a new disease,
reported their concerns about the dangers and worked out biological aspects of the
virus. The response from the authorities included intimidation and silencing of the
medical professionals, seeking to cover up the possibility of an outbreak.
Once the pandemic took hold, the failings of health systems around the world
became evident. Especially in wealthier countries, many governments had long had
pandemic plans indicating the need for more robust health systems, from improved
disease surveillance to paying medical personnel appropriately and to having protective
equipment available. The failure to heed these warnings, alongside the lack of healthcare
accessible to everyone in the USA, meant that the hazard could not be addressed
effectively and vulnerability fundamentals were revealed.
Also on the vulnerability side, deep questions need to be explored covering why
humanity disturbs ecosystems to the point that microbes jump species, creating new
hazards - as happened with HIV and Ebola in addition to the new coronavirus - and
why food markets operate without proper oversight or hygiene. From both hazard
and vulnerability perspectives, the pandemic disaster was not natural, but was entirely
The pandemic was not the only disaster. Without disputing the need for the lockdowns
seen around the world, this approach's consequences represent further layers
of the COVID‐19 disaster. Expectations of further disaster layers incorporate more
mental health issues, medical problems from augmented stress and worsened diet,
self‐harm including suicide attempts, domestic violence and substance use. All these
are poorly treated epidemics across societies already, but were rarely considered fully
within the context of ordering lockdown.
The destruction of a lifetime's dedication to building up a small business (closed
during lockdown) and not holding family members' hands as they die add to physical
and mental health impacts. It is telling that the phrase 'social distancing' was used first,
only to be replaced by 'physical distancing' on the important premise that we need to
remain as socially close as possible without physical proximity.
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
2 ILAN KELMAN
© 2020 The Authors. Social Anthropology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of European Association of Social Anthropologists.
The lockdowns nonetheless saved, at minimum, tens of thousands of lives. Part of pandemic planning and dealing with a pandemic disaster is to incorporate immediately the disastrous aspects brought by lockdowns. None of this knowledge is new. It was all available long before the virus appeared at the end of 2019, yet once again we witness the failure to use what we know to prevent disasters.
Institute for Global Health and Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction
University College London, London WC1E 6BT
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