Collateral damage in the fight against coronavirus

For months, containing the pandemic has been a top priority around the world. Commentators from across Europe worry that culture, education, social activities and treatment for patients suffering from other illnesses are being neglected.

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Der Standard (AT) /

Problems for which there are no daily updates

The focus on Covid-19 should not lead to other problems being forgotten, warns Der Standard:

“There are things that can be far more detrimental to health than this virus. These things are loneliness at the end of one's life, the loss of years of healthy life due to a poorly treated chronic or acute illness or a tumour that is diagnosed months too late. The discussion about coronavirus interventions still does not take sufficient account of the collateral damage. There are no daily updated dashboards for unemployment, cancer and heart attacks. ... In autumn and winter the following rule must apply: the old and dying must not be left alone and cut off from the rest of the world. And those who are seriously ill must be able to see a doctor. This is what people must take to heart.”

Jydske Vestkysten (DK) /

Corn farmers facing delays at the border

The fact that eight out of thirteen border crossing points between Denmark and Germany are still closed is obstructing the work of farmers who harvest or deliver corn on both sides of the border, Jydske Vestkysten complains:

“There would undoubtedly be fierce protests if the authorities introduced controls between different parts of Denmark. ... The argument that this could limit the number of coronavirus infections would not weigh heavily enough compared to the restrictions for people and companies. ... Unfortunately that's not how it is at the German-Danish border. Not even special lanes for commuters have been set up here. ... It is now imperative to open more border crossing points and shorten waiting times. And not just for the corn farmers, who are facing higher costs due to transport delays.”

Yetkin Report (TR) /

Other illnesses are not being treated

A healthcare system that is fixated on the pandemic is dangerous, warns legal expert Hakan Yazıcı in the Yetkin Report blog:

“The patients suffering from diseases other than Covid-19 are paying a higher cost than Covid-19 patients. ... The Ministry of Health has, for months now, brought everyone's focus on one peril only: Covid-19. Unfortunately, so have all the doctors I know of. With the great effect of this behavior by the Ministry of Health and doctors, no one wants to go near hospitals or doctors, with the fear (which is justified) of 'contracting Covid-19'. We do not comprehend what the cost of postponed controls, diagnoses, and treatments will be.”

Le Soir (BE) /

Don't put culture and education aside

In Belgium the new school year is beginning with pupils aged twelve and above required to wear masks and a ban on school trips to cultural venues. But there should be as few restrictions as possible when it comes to culture and education, warns high school teacher Sofia Injoque Palla in Le Soir:

“If we want a post-Covid society, as politicians declared in April, then education, culture, health, the environment, justice, solidarity and democracy must be its cornerstones. Giving culture and education their rightful place means laying the foundations for a new model of living that focuses on two basic components: people and the environment. Culture and education are inseparable. They are the two sides of a coin that has no price, but inestimable value.”

Õhtuleht (EE) /

Protect health and data

In Estonia there is currently a debate about whether customer data should be collected in the catering, culture and amusement industry in order to trace chains of infection. Õhtuleht urges caution:

“The risk is that more data can be collected than is necessary, and that it could end up in the wrong hands. Now even curious police officers and medical professionals can sift through the databases on the lookout for prominent figures. How are we supposed to protect personal data when not only restaurants and theatres but also nightclubs, striptease and gay bars have to create lists? These lists can be used to satisfy curiosity, but also to spread rumours and blackmail people.”

Jornal de Notícias (PT) /

Portugal can expect mass unemployment

In the coming months the Portuguese will feel the economic squeeze even more, Jornal de Noticias predicts:

“Hundreds of factories will remain closed after August. Countless companies are still trying to survive with the help of state support, but it's not enough. In March next year the freeze on loan repayments will end, reducing the financial lifeline of thousands of families to a minimun. ... Tourism and those regions that depend on seasonal business, like the Algarve, will be hit even harder. Only those who live there understand the scale of the tragedy that is now knocking at the door.”