The Unreported Coronavirus Crisis in Failed States


In any crisis, one has three choices – fight, flea or simply bury your head in the ground.

The catastrophic Covid-19 pandemic first emerged in China in December, 2019, and has spread at a terrorizing rate all across the globe ever since. While the Covid-19 virus has pretty much announced its tight grip on the entire world, these ‘ostrich nations’ or failed states, have notably suffered more due to predestined factors. After having experienced and studied the potential growth rate of this virus, it is bewildering to note the scanty count of not just the infected cases, but also the fatalities that failed states have documented. Speculation about how the Coronavirus crisis has been going unreported in several countries seems to have gone more viral in the recent past than the virus itself.

Inefficiency in the testing of potential cases has been exhibited in several countries, mainly during the initial stages of the pandemic. However, the lack of a robust health infrastructure provided by failed states even in the later stages, has led to a significant number of cases going unreported. Poor surveillance systems in failed states have been unable to record the true data about the extent of spread of the Covid-19 virus. Health services are either severely below par or possibly non-existent, with medical facilities incapacitated and redundant to deal with a new plague. An illustrative example would be the Democratic Republic of Congo, resting in the mammoth continent of Africa. With its multitude of Lilliputian rural pockets where the examination of individuals for this virus has been limited due to the lack of testing equipment, the Democratic Republic of Congo had recorded 4,493 cases as of May 18th, 2020. The number of tests required to make up for 1% of the population was 895,614. [Sources: Africa CDC; The Lancelot] It is important for healthcare systems worldwide to be able to estimate the number of cases that will require treatment, especially in the case of a pandemic.

The limited resources and facilities in failed states with characteristically extreme income disparities are usually at the exclusive disposal of the privileged few, thus leaving the overwhelming majority with little or no cover against vagaries of life, let aside the challenges posed by a major pandemic as this one. The average per capita income of the less fortunate citizens of failed states is barely sufficient to meet with the needs for sustenance, let alone medical needs in the case of this pandemic.

Another plausible cause for cases going unreported in failed states is the strong subsistence of a failed press. In countries where the media is gagged by the government and has no free speech, erroneous facts around the spread of the Coronavirus are inevitable. A weakly structured press coerced to cover up cases as well as unable to report cases in remote and isolated areas due to the lack of means, has predominantly and possibly single handedly led to the figures of people affected going unreported. The count of cases in North Korea is far less as compared to China, despite them sharing a border. Officials and authorities in North Korea claim the state to be free of the Coronavirus as of April 16th, 2020, despite it lacking a reliable healthcare system as well as bordering one of Asia’s most infected countries. [Sources: Korean Central News Agency/ Korean News Service] Authorities in the central Asian countries of Tajikistan and Turkmenistan have also insisted that their states are free of the Covid-19 virus. As told by Rachel Denber, Europe and Central Asia deputy director of the Human Rights Watch, to ABC News, zero case reports in both countries are “almost certainly” the results of “concerted efforts to suppress information”. [Source: ABC News]

The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly exposed the vulnerability of already vulnerable states across the globe to the maximum. It has brought back into sharper focus the disregard for or inability to maintain a certain level of human life in failed states. While it is surely disheartening to notice the disintegrating conditions of failed states, one can always hope that fewer countries fall into this category and are able to bridge necessary gaps with more efficiency.

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