Coronavirus: How Donald Trump and other ‘strongmen’ are risking people’s lives – Steve Cardownie

Donald Trump and some other world leaders seem more interested in their popularity than the health of their citizens as the coronavirus outbreak spreads, writes Steve Cardownie.

By Steve Cardownie
Wednesday, 1st April 2020, 6:00 am
Football fans cheer on their team in Belarus, where the football season remains in full swing (Picure: AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Football fans cheer on their team in Belarus, where the football season remains in full swing (Picure: AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

The President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, has apparently found a cure for Covid-19 and achieved a stupendous scientific breakthrough and it is all so simple: visit to a banya (sauna) three times a week and a daily dose of 50ml of vodka and job done!

He took part in an ice hockey match last week where he told reporters: “It’s better to die standing on your feet than to live on your knees.” Hardly a quote of Braveheart proportions but evidence none the less that a temporary “lockdown” is not something that he is currently considering and the fact that the football season is still in full swing bears testimony to that. He has pledged that Belarus will still celebrate Victory Day on 9 May when veterans from the Second World War parade through the streets despite the fact that the elderly are more susceptible to contracting the virus in public spaces.

He is not the only politician to underestimate the potential effects of Covid-19. Some did so out of ignorance but others displayed a marked refusal to recognise the facts and sought to politicise the situation rather than deal with it. The USA has now jumped to the top of the world’s coronavirus league table with 164,359 confirmed cases and 3,173 deaths at the time of writing and all the indications are that this is set to rise to seismic proportions.

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Despite evidence to the contrary, President Trump continued to falsely insist that his partial travel bans on China and Europe were sufficient to contain the outbreak. This after initially dismissing reports of the virus as being no big deal, that the media and Democrats were overhyping the situation and that “this is their new hoax”.

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Just last week he seemed more interested in the statistics regarding his re-election prospects than anything else. In a TV interview he maintained that the press were part of a conspiracy to bring down his presidency. “They will do anything they can to hurt this presidency and yet here we are with the best numbers we’ve ever had,” he opined when referring to his approval ratings.

He had previously claimed to have the virus under “control” with the number of US cases set to go “down, not up” and that the virus might well vanish by April with the onset of warmer weather.

He can no longer ignore the effects of the virus and the potential death toll it will exact but many commentators are laying some of the blame at Trump’s door for his dithering and concentrating more on his image amongst the voters rather than recognising the catastrophic events that were about to unfold and which his scientific advisers had warned him about.

So we have two leaders in Lukashenko and Trump who consider themselves political “strongmen” who have all the answers and will brook no criticism of their actions or pronouncements. Both potentially pose a very serious threat to the health and wellbeing of the citizens they were elected to protect, one by proposing preposterous cures for the virus – vodka and sweating – and disregarding social distancing, the other preoccupied with his image, making false public statements and then flatly denying that he did indeed make them despite TV evidence to the contrary.

It is of paramount importance therefore that in cases such as the current pandemic the scientific community’s advice must be adhered to and acted upon and taken out of the political arena. Professional advisory boards with real powers to impose social conditions backed up with hard facts and sound reasoning, readily understood by the public should be the norm, not the exception.

Some politicians are incapable of rising above party politics and always have one eye on the ballot box whilst others rise to the occasion and give science its proper place and act in the national interest.

Stay connected – stay safe!

A local grocer with a big heart

It is heartening to see that local businesses are playing their part by servicing their local community at this unprecedented time.

My local grocer, MA Stores in East Claremont Street, has recently introduced free home deliveries to customers who live locally and for whatever reason cannot visit the shop. Tommy Singh and his dad, Satty, take turns to jump in the car to visit customers who have placed orders via email or phone and are busy doing so from 8am to 6pm.

Orders range from the basic necessities, milk, bread, The Evening News etc to “luxuries” such as wine and confectionery, with there also being a marked increase in orders for fresh fruits, particularly oranges and lemons.

The concerns of the mainly elderly customers are taken on board, with visitors to the shop being asked to stand outside the door, give their order and receive their goods out in the street, so keeping possible contamination to a minimum.

Whoever is delivering orders is required to wear gloves and a face mask too, offering a little bit more assurance to the customer that due precautions are being taken.

Tommy is aware that other stores are operating in a similar manner and would encourage others to follow suit as the gratitude expressed by customers would be ample reward for their endeavours.

Fishy tale

On a recent visit to a supermarket I witnessed a customer clear all the fridge of mussels, prawns, crabs and lobsters. I thought “you shellfish b******!”