Several global powers, including the US and the UK, feigned ignorance over the coronavirus, deliberately endangering older populations and raising troubling questions about their commitment to basic human values.

“If anything is going to hurt the world, it is moral decay. And not taking the death of the elderly or the senior citizens as a serious issue is moral decay,” said World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, indicating that some countries deliberately took their time to take measures against the coronavirus as its mortality rate is higher among senior citizens.

According to WHO, the mortality rate of the coronavirus among people over the age of 80 is 14.8 percent, while it is 8 percent among people between ages 70 and 79, and the has a lower mortality rate among people under the age of 60. These numbers caused people around the world, especially those living in the European countries and the US, to see the coronavirus (Covid-19) as a disease that mainly affects the senior citizens of society and many young people continued with their daily routines. 

Even after the first cases began to be reported in the leading countries of Europe, the governments turned a blind eye to the possible pandemic, despite frequent warnings from the WHO.

On January 19, 2020, a 35-year-old male who travelled from Wuhan, China, was the first person in the US to be diagnosed with this novel virus. US President Trump ignored all the warnings of the WHO and other health organisations to take measures against the spread of the disease in the country and even backed his ignorant tone against the coronavirus with his statements. 

On February 28, Trump said that coronavirus will “disappear” like a “miracle” while speaking at a press conference for his coronavirus task force, adding that “warm weather will kill the virus”.

Despite Trump’s denial in front of the cameras, the elderly in the US were already struggling with the virus even though it was not reported. Life Care Center in Kirkland, near Washington is a nursing home with about 120 residents. According to the official records, the first death related to the coronavirus occurred in late February but the medical staff of the centre beg to differ. A spokesperson from the nursing home reported that 26 people lost their lives between February 19 and 29 although there are normally no more than seven deaths in a month at the centre. It is said that 13 of the dead were tested positive for the coronavirus but others might have died because of the pandemic as well.

The US government failed to take action to protect its elderly population. However, some parts of the country take drastic measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus, by shutting the elderly off. Gunnison County in Colorado reportedly banned restaurants and bars from serving people over 60 in order not to “spread the virus”. 

“We are trying to protect our most vulnerable population,” Andrew Sandstrom, the public information officer for the Gunnison County Incident Command, told a local paper. Instead of limiting social interaction, the county seems to force the elderly to stay away from the public altogether.

Almost a week ago, the UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson took the stage and said that there is no need for strict measures to stop the coronavirus spreading across the entire island as it is predicted to spread anyway. He said that up to 60 percent of the UK’s population is expected to contract the coronavirus in the long run and “many more families are going to lose loved ones”. 

Unlike the quarantine strategies of countries like Italy and China, the UK decided to go for a different approach called “herd immunity”. According to this theory, a large proportion of the population, which is people under the age of 50, is at lower risk of developing severe disease. So, by letting 60 percent of the population become infected and generating immunity in younger people it would save the UK and put an end to the pandemic. This “herd immunity” theory seems perfect once you hear it, however it leaves people above the age of 50 vulnerable and between the lines it indicates that their lives do not matter.

Following a huge backlash from public, media outlets and the health specialists, the UK government changed its strategy against the coronavirus by isolating every citizen over the age of 70 from all social interaction. The government told the elderly to stay home at least for four months without any social contact or activity.

[NOTE: The article came from TRT World’s Eyes on Discrimination (EOD) Centre, which monitors and reports on offences, hate crimes and discrimination on the basis of gender, race, ethnicity, national origin and religion, or other related social categories.]

Source: TRTWorld and agencies