A pandemic atlas: how COVID-19 conquered the world in 2020
Almost no place has been spared – and no one.
The virus that first emerged a year ago in Wuhan, China, swept the world in 2020, wreaking havoc in its wake. More than anything in memory, the pandemic was a global event. Households on every continent have felt its devastation – unemployment and lockdowns, infirmity and death. And a constant and relentless fear.
But each nation has its own story of how it coped. How China used its authoritarian muscle to eradicate the coronavirus. How Brazil battled the pandemic even as its president didn’t care. How Israel’s ultra-Orthodox flouted measures to stem the spread of the disease, deepening the rift between them and their more secular neighbors.
Spain has witnessed the deaths of thousands of elders. Kenyans have seen schools close and children go to work, some as prostitutes. India’s draconian lockdown has lowered the infection rate – but only temporarily and at a horrific cost.
By year’s end, promising vaccines offered a silver lining amid a second wave of rising contagion.
“The winter will be difficult, four long difficult months,” Chancellor Angela Merkel said, announcing new restrictions on life in Germany. “But it will end. “
Associated Press reporters around the world have assessed how the countries they are posted to have resisted the pandemic – and where these countries stand as they enter the second year of contagion.
The story of COVID-19 in BRAZIL is the story of a president who insists the pandemic is not serious. Jair Bolsonaro condemned the quarantine of COVID-19, saying the shutdowns will wipe out the economy and punish the poor. He laughed at the “little flu” and then shouted the fatalistic claim that nothing could stop 70% of Brazilians from getting sick. And he refused to take responsibility when many did. He poured money into the economy to ease the pain of the pandemic. But while Bolsonaro might have inspired people to curl up, he instead encouraged them to ignore local restrictions.
Go further: the Brazilian leader mocks and the balance sheet increases
Workers have returned to factories and offices, students are back to the classroom, and once again long lines form in front of popular hot pot restaurants. In cities, wearing a surgical mask – although it is no longer necessary outside of subways and other crowded places – has become a habit. In many ways, normal life has resumed in CHINA, the country where COVID-19 emerged a year ago. The ruling Communist Party in China has withdrawn some of the most drastic disease controls ever imposed. The challenge are jobs: the economy is growing again, but the recovery is uneven.
Go further: Chinese state power crushes COVID-19
GERMANS enjoyed a largely relaxed summer with the lifting of many restrictions, the dividend of a rapid response to the initial coronavirus outbreak and the use of early and widespread testing that garnered much praise. This has reduced the number of daily COVID-19 cases from a high of over 6,000 at the end of March to a few hundred during the warmer months. But as people indulged in following the rules, the numbers started to almost quadruple the daily record for March, and the country now finds itself in a new lockdown as it tries to bring the pandemic under control.
Go further: early success, growing concern in Germany
A nation of 1.3 billion people, INDIA is likely to become the country with the highest number of coronaviruses in the world. It responded to the pandemic early on with a sharp nationwide lockdown, but the number of cases has increased as restrictions eased and its squeaky public health system has struggled to keep up. Questions have been raised about its abnormally low death rate. India’s worries about viruses are also compounded by its struggling economy which has recorded its worst performance in at least two decades. It will be the most affected among the world’s major economies, even after the pandemic has subsided.
Go further: India struggles to save lives and the economy
At first, Iranian officials played down COVID-19 – denying the growing number of infections, refusing to shut down mosques, making half-hearted gestures to lock down businesses. It was then. It’s now: Even Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei wore disposable gloves while planting a tree for state media, and prayed in an empty mosque to mark the Shiite commemoration of Ashoura. The coronavirus pandemic has only worsened in Iran over the year, threatening everyone from the day laborer on the streets to the heights of the Islamic Republic. Now the virus has sickened and killed senior officials, becoming perhaps Iran’s biggest threat since the unrest and war that followed its 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Go further: it is no longer in viral denial, Iran is struggling
When ISRAEL entered its second national coronavirus lockdown in September, most of the country quickly complied with the shutdown. But in some ultra-Orthodox areas, synagogues were crowded, mourners thronged to funerals, and COVID-19 cases continued to soar. Failure to follow national security rules in ultra-Orthodox areas has reinforced popular perception that the community prioritizes faith over science and cares little for the common good. It has also sparked a backlash that threatens to reverberate in Israeli society for years to come. Meanwhile, the neighboring Palestinian territories – the West Bank and Gaza Strip – face their own crises.
Go further: virus widens Israel’s religious divisions
At the end of February, ITALY became the epicenter of COVID-19 in Europe and a cautionary tale of what happens when a healthcare system, even in one of the richest regions of the world, collapses under the burden of the pandemic of sick and dead. When the second wave struck in September, even the lessons learned from the first were not enough to spare the disproportionate Italian population from devastation. Despite plans and protocols, surveillance systems and machinery put in place to guard against the expected fall attack, thousands more have died and hospitals have again been brought to breaking point.
Go further: Italy becomes the viral epicenter of Europe
JAPAN’s COVID-19 pandemic got off to a tumultuous start in February when a luxury cruise ship returned to its home port near Tokyo carrying passengers and crew; their infections exploded during quarantine. The handling of the Diamond Princess has sparked criticism that Japanese health officials botched the quarantine, turning the ship into a virus incubator. Despite concerns about the country’s ability to survive future waves of infections, Japan has been spared the dangerous outbreaks seen in the United States and Europe, and hopes to host the Olympics next summer. Experts say the use of masks and border control have been key to keeping the number of Japanese cases low.
Go Further: Masks are key to reducing the number of cases in Japan
They say youth is a protective factor against COVID-19. In KENYA, young people have suffered anyway. From children forced into forced labor and prostitution, to schools closed until 2021, to a child shot by police enforcing the curfew, to babies born in desperate conditions, the effects of the pandemic in Kenya are spreading. are harshly passed on to young people. Growing economic pressures and Kenya’s intention to close schools for almost everyone until 2021 have put enormous pressure on children, who have suddenly been left adrift by the millions. Some have now split stones in quarries, or have turned to prostitution or theft.
Go Further: Young Kenyans Suffer Collateral Damage
For months, PERU has held the grim title of the world’s first in per capita deaths from COVID-19. It shouldn’t be like that. Decades of underinvestment in public health, poor decisions at the start of the pandemic, coupled with severe inequalities and shortages of vital commodities like medical oxygen have combined to create one of the deadliest epidemics in the world. Now the nation is facing massive and crippling mourning. A recent poll found that 7 in 10 Peruvians know someone who has died from the virus.
Go further: Peru’s death toll leaves country in mourning
In the world’s most unequal country, disease has hit the poor hardest, and the economic recession has pushed unemployment up to 42%. But SOUTH AFRICA had a secret weapon: medical professionals who are veterans of the country’s long-standing battles against HIV / AIDS and drug-resistant TB. The country’s leaders have heeded their advice on how to deal with the coronavirus, and while there have been ups and downs, the worst-case scenarios have yet to materialize.
Go further: South Africa acts quickly, avoids disaster
In 2020, SPANISH people normalized things unimaginable only 12 months ago. But 2020 will also remain the year when an unknown virus shook the foundations of the social contract and called into question a system that has failed to prevent so many deaths. Politicians boast that the system did not collapse in that first wave, when the country recorded 929 deaths in a single day. But medical professionals will tell you the real cost was overworked staff who fell ill more than anywhere else in the world and took a heavy emotional toll.
Go further: the Spanish system fails and the elderly die
Americans have been inundated wave after wave of grim numbers – COVID-19 deaths in the hundreds of thousands, infections in the millions. While these numbers speak to a tragedy of historic proportions, they do not fully capture the myriad of ways, large and small, that the virus has disrupted and revived everyday life. For that, however, there are a host of other numbers, some more familiar than others, but just as revealing for tracking the massive impact of the pandemic.
Go deeper: the United States in numbers, revealing and gruesome
In MEXICO, the government has done little other than asking its people to act responsibly. The result: over 100,000 deaths, a number that is presumed to be an understatement. In NEW ZEALAND, the government has closed its borders and closed almost everything, saving a few dozen deaths. Countries around the world have gone through the gamut of responses to the COVID-19 pandemic – sometimes moving from strict to lax measures in just a few months, or vice versa. A look at the state of the pandemic around the world.
Go further: nations have gone through the gamut in their response
On the Web: An Atlas of the Pandemic (http://apnews.com/PandemicAtlas)