Inside Covid-19: Unbearable pain – hunger, poverty, food parcel corruption; hunting for a cure. Ep 85

In this episode, the driving force behind a charity that is feeding 100,000 desperately hungry people in deep rural areas puts the human face on the devastation Covid-19 lockdown has caused. Johannesburg-based Marilyn Bassin of the NGO Boikanyo – The Dion Herson Foundation, tells how a chain of about 35 NGOs is getting food parcels to people who are relying on a few table-spoons of porridge a day  – and how many families don’t eat for days. And, a leading sociologist Professor David Dickinson of the University of the Witwatersrand provides the macro picture of how life has changed dramatically for the worse for many people in cities too. Corruption has put food parcels out of reach. He compares the government approach to the way it dealt with the HIV-Aids problem – hugely inadequate – and assesses where the country is going. You can also hear an update on whether a cure for Covid-19 is likely, with insights on how viruses work and advances in medical research on treating viral diseases. – Jackie Cameron

The Covid-19 headlines

  • At least 650,749 have tested positive for Covid-19 in South Africa, according to government statistics. The total number of deaths recorded for the country is around 15,500.
  • As global coronavirus cases neared 30 million on Tuesday, a senior health official in China said she expected a vaccine to be publicly available as early as November this year, says Bloomberg. According to the Johns Hopkins University Covid-19 tracker, which relies on official government data, there are 29,190,588 confirmed infections worldwide. Deaths stand at 927,245 and are expected to pass 1 million by October.
  • In India – where infections trail only the US – total Covid-19 cases have approached 5-million, says Bloomberg.
  • Britain has lost nearly 700,000 jobs due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This is a blow to the economy “that will heap further pressure on the government to extend its wage-support programmes.” The Office for National Statistics said that “the number of employees on payrolls in August is down 695,000 from March.” The number of individuals claiming for jobless benefits has now risen to 2,7-million. This is an increase of 121%, since March, says Bloomberg.
  • Developing Asia’s coronavirus-battered economy will shrink for the first time since the early 1960s, with the level of output next year still seen below pre-pandemic projections even as growth recovers, according to the Asian Development Bank. The region’s gross domestic product will decline by 0.7% in 2020, down from June’s projection of an increase of 0.1%, the Manila-based bank said in a report this week.
  • Lawyers for policyholders in a landmark UK insurance case over payouts related to Covid-19 called the ruling a “resounding victory” for their clients, reports Bloomberg. The Financial Conduct Authority said insurers should be begin progressing claims in light of the ruling from a pair of London judges on Tuesday. Shares in Hiscox Ltd. and RSA Insurance Group Plc gained after the companies responded to the ruling, providing estimates of the impact. The insurers, together with Zurich Insurance Group AG and five other companies, had objected to the FCA case, which was brought in an effort to bring legal clarity to dozens of policies under dispute. Hundreds of thousands of small companies will receive payouts on insurance claims after being forced to close during the Covid-19 pandemic, following a high court judgment in the test case brought by the City regulator, reports The Guardian. About 370,000 firms are affected by the judgment and should hear from their insurer within the next week, according to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). It had previously estimated the value of policies affected by the test case at about £1.2bn, says the UK news outlet.
  • Thailand will start issuing special visas to foreign tourists starting in October, easing a more than five-month-old ban on visitors to revive the nation’s ailing tourism-reliant economy, says Bloomberg.
  • Russia’s new cases and deaths rose the most since late July as the virus spread with the return of millions to school and work. The government reported 5,529 new cases and 150 deaths.
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