Coronavirus: not all in the same boat

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic many observers have said that the crisis is exposing and sometimes even exacerbating social inequalities. Now these voices are being joined by criticism of how certain governments have dealt with the pandemic. Commentators argue that for instance Stockholm and Ankara have left certain sections of their society in the lurch.

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Dagens Nyheter (SE) /

Swedish way only benefits the wealthy

According to research by Expressen newspaper, while Stockholm's wealthier districts have been for the most part spared by the pandemic, poor areas have been hit hard. The 'Swedish way' has contributed to this, Dagens Nyheter criticises:

“The Public Health Agency was apparently above all focused on the well-being of the wealthy middle class. The Swedish strategy was based on personal responsibility: if 'we' behave sensibly at all times - staying at home if we fall sick, working from home, taking the car instead of the bus - 'we' wouldn't lose any freedoms, we'd be able to eat out and wouldn't have to wear face masks. ... Instead of keeping infection numbers down, as our neighbouring countries have done in order to protect high-risk and socially relevant groups, the government accepted the risk of the virus spreading. ... Now it is the weakest in society who are paying the price for this strategy.”

Gazete Duvar (TR) /

Good connections are the best protection in Turkey

News website Gazete Duvar is outraged that those with ties to the Turkish government are faring better in the pandemic:

“We later learned that while we were applauding the health workers, the decision-makers who led the applause kept medical professionals with an 'intercessor in the government' away from corona patients. So one group of doctors was protected from infection while the other group was allowed to work shifts for so long that they died of exhaustion if not from the virus itself. ... It's no wonder that with all the cronyism, tests and treatment weren't first made available to those that needed them most, but to those with friends in high places. ... Instead of expanding the testing capacities and isolating those who tested positive, the decision was taken to keep some of the people locked up.”

Jornal de Notícias (PT) /

Time for equal protection for all

Jornal de Notícias also comments on how the pandemic is mercilessly revealing social injustices:

“The coronavirus is a very discriminatory disease: first of all, it prefers the elderly and people in poor health, it likes workers from the suburbs, it enjoys immigrants without protection, such as precarious and temporary workers and, as we now know, it even prefers certain sectors: the meat processing industry, the building sector and, of course, the health and care sector. A decent and perhaps effective response to Covid-19 and its consequences would be to do everything possible to get us all in the same boat. The most disadvantaged workers and population groups must be offered serious protection and we should work on a vision that takes us towards a more equal and cohesive society.”