Tag: Pandemic

Brazil restores COVID-19 data after outcry

Brazil restores COVID-19 data after outcry

Over the weekend, the Brazilian administration took down comprehensive statistics related to coronavirus in the country, leading to accusations of data manipulation.

After a Supreme Court directive, Brazil on Tuesday restored the COVID-19 statistics that it had taken down from its health ministry website over the weekend. On Friday, the site was taken down and it reappeared on Saturday without crucial numbers relating to those already infected and killed by the virus.

There was an immediate outcry against the government for hiding this data, which coupled with President Jair Bolsonaro’s blasé attitude to the pandemic seemed to indicate the government was trying to suppress the severity of the outbreak.

Last week, there was controversy around a statement made by a government contractor that the data needed to be audited as it was possible that states were reporting higher numbers in order to secure more funding.

On Sunday, the government released two separate figures of daily deaths, initially announcing it to be 1,382 which was then revised to 525, reportedly according to a new methodology. Though details of these calculations were not revealed, the government had said that it would help give a “more realistic snapshot” of the situation in the country.

Brazil has recorded the highest total numbers of cases in the world after the United States and leads the globe in daily deaths tally. On Tuesday evening, the website reported 739,503 total cases and 38,406 deaths so far. In the past 24 hours, the country recorded 32,091 new infections and 1,272 deaths. But despite expert advice to not do so, many important states like São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro have started partially reopening, leading to fears of a further surge in cases. In Rio, shopping centres and bars would have open if not for a court injunction denying permission to do so. The disappearance of the numbers, which would be critical in judging the impact of these moves, irked many lawmakers and health experts.

Already the President has been criticised for not taking the virus seriously and in fact trying to undermine some of the efforts taken by the state governors by asking them to ease lockdowns in order to revive the economy. He is known to have referred to the virus as a “measly flu” and has encouraged mass rallies of supporters in defiance of social distancing norms. Two health ministers have quit in as many months after allegations that the president was refusing to listen even to experts in his own government.

The latest move was heavily decried by the Supreme Court which said it was done to avoid facts and create a parallel narrative that would make monitoring of cases and decision-making difficult. This was a tool of totalitarian regimes, one judge said, adding that tricks like this wouldn’t “absolve the government from eventual genocide”. On Monday night, supreme court justice Alexandre de Moraes gave the administration 48 hours to “fully re-establish the daily dissemination of epidemiological data on the COVID-19 pandemic”.

Will EU travel tourism business recover from pandemic hit?

Will EU travel tourism business recover from pandemic hit?

The European Union has been worst hit by the pandemic, when it comes to their key sector of travel and tourism. The economy which thrives on its tourist inflow has hit rock bottom as many nations systematically try and open their borders post a long induced lockdown.

In a web debate over how to make a recovery recently Matthew Baldwin, deputy director general, Mobility and Transport, the European Commission expressed his gravest concern was ‘to restore a sense of wellbeing and security amongst the people.’

Also engaging in the debate was Eduardo Santander, executive director and CEO of the European Travel Commission (ETC) who said that the situation might not revive that quickly though some activity has started to resume in the European Union post the pandemic and that is a fresh start.  According to him the best way to move ahead would be to ‘harmonized and use a united approach to travel across the European Union.’

Matthew expressed the Commission’s seriousness to come up with a solution owning to the fact that ‘there are 6 million jobs at stake and almost 10 percent GDP comes from travel and tourism for European Union.’

However in his understand a more “common approach would be most appropriate to lift restrictions of the border and create travel links without compromising the safety and hygiene aspect of the travelers.  Health protocols for hotels for example will need to be well defined as well. It is more of the perspective of safety and restoring public confidence that is important. Also we need to work out a way to really give travel operators the maximum possible certainty for them to feel reassured their business can still work,” said Matthew.

Speaking about moving ahead, he said that European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has already put down operational tool for the aviation industry.  Further he said that its most important that “as we open travel and tourism, lets concentrate on three things- coordination, transparency and non discriminatory approach.”

Portuguese Secretary of State for Tourism, Rita Marques spoke about the need for “data and information in order we can follow a coordinated approach. We will need this support coming from all member states. Mobility is also critical to restart the travel and tourism business. We need to work towards reopening borders and mobilize transport in a very harmonizing way, promote tourism within EU and then funding.  15 percent of our GDP, strong support from EU to restart the travel and tourism sector.”  Santander threw light on the fact that family travel businesses and enterprises are now facing an existential threat.  He also reiterated the problem facing EU nations post the summer months. In his opinion, the first thing to do would be to “really restore the trust amongst the players itself.” All of them believe that the damage is far more psychological that just economical and would definitely need consensus and unified rules, guidelines and standards that works well both for travelers and service providers.

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