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Amid the despair, silver linings too

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Third Mainland Bridge. PHOTO: TheCable

As the world is gripped with the Covid-19 outbreak, and the number of active cases and fatalities rise across the globe, it might be hard to keep calm and carry on. Especially when to avoid the pandemic spreading further, we are all on lockdown under state orders and the room to carry on is confined to the perimeters of our homes.

Did you know that a third of the world as of this week is on official lockdown? On our TVs and on social media, we see frame after frame eerie images of Trafalgar Square, the Third Mainland Bridge, Champs Elysee deserted – like visions of a dystopian future, half wondering if that dystopian future has finally arrived.

With the breaking news on a 24-hour loop, it is even harder to see a silver lining in the vicious circle of doom and gloom broadcast straight into our living rooms. Yes, there are now over 1 million active cases of infection across the world and globally over 51,000 deaths; and yes, Nigeria is only at the start of what might be a devastatingly steep curve. Yet, we need to look for silver linings to keep our spirits up in what is likely to be more a marathon against Covid-19 than a sprint.

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Portugal
On 28 March, Portugal made the unprecedented decision to treat immigrants as residents during the Coronavirus crisis. All foreigners in Portugal with pending applications will be treated as permanent residents from Monday until at least 1 July, authorities said on Saturday, to ensure immigrants have access to public services during the coronavirus outbreak.
“People should not be deprived of their rights to health and public service just because their application has not yet been processed,” Claudia Veloso, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Internal Affairs, told Reuters. “In these exceptional times, the rights of migrants must be guaranteed.”

Turkey
One of the country’s leading conglomerates, Koc Holding opened the doors to their five star hotels Divan İstanbul and Divan İstanbul City hotels for health workers to stay free of charge.
In a statement, the Divan representatives said, “As the Divan group, we are grateful to and we stand by our health workers who are at the frontline at this unprecedented time.”

Arcelik, the household name for durable consumer goods, another Koc Holding subsidiary, suspended production in its factories and teamed up with defence contractor Aselsan and made their technical infrastructure available for mass production of 5,000 ventilators made by Turkish biomedical company Biosys.

France
Within 72 hours of a call to the industry by the French government on Friday 16 March to help fill gaps of key medical supplies as the spread of the virus accelerated, the first plastic bottle of hand sanitiser came of the production line at luxury brand LVMH’s Dior factory in Orleans. The 71-year-old tycoon Bernard Arnault greenlighted the effort on Saturday night in a brief text message to LVMH’s general secretary Marc-Antoine Jamet.

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LVMH has since donated tonnes of the hand sanitising gel to the 39 hospitals of the Paris system known as the APHP by the end of this week. It will also ramp up production with two additional production lines soon at the Givenchy factory in l’Oise and another for the Guerlain brand near Chartres.
“LVMH will continue to honour this commitment as long as necessary,” said the company in a statement.

Cuba
Not all superheroes wear capes; some are socialist Latin American states as Cuba has been showing the world since the pandemic hit Europe.
First, Cuba made headlines On March 18, when a British cruise ship carrying several passengers infected with COVID-19 was allowed to dock at a Cuban port, after it was turned away by other countries in the Caribbean. Some 680 passengers were then flown back to the UK on chartered flights from Havana.

On 22 March, the arrival of Cuban medics in Italy to join the fight against the Covid-19 outbreak once again made headlines. In fact, Cuba has in the last few weeks dispatched 593 medical workers to 14 countries in their battles against the pandemic. These medical workers belong to the Henry Reeve Emergency Medical Contingent, named after a US-born general who fought in the First Cuban War of Independence in the 19th century.
Meanwhile, the Cuban government’s investment in the biotech industry as a result of several outbreaks in the 1980s, could provide more hope.

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Interferon Alfa-2B Recombinant, developed by the Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba, has been used in the treatment of HIV and hepatitis. It was developed by Cuban and Chinese scientists in a joint effort to treat the highly contagious virus. Cuban biotech expert Luis Herrera Martinez said that the drug “prevents aggravation and complications in patients reaching that stage that ultimately can result in death.”
Meanwhile on the streets of Cuba, some 28,000 medical students trudging from house to house trying to identify cases of the coronavirus pandemic to stop it from spreading further.

Israel
Last week a candid image of two paramedics having a break from arduous emergency work went viral. This was no ordinary break.
in the southern Israeli city of Be’er Sheva, just past 6pm, Avraham Mintz, a religious Jew, stood facing Jerusalem, his white and black prayer shawl hanging off his shoulders, and Zoher Abu Jama, an observant Muslim, knelt facing Mecca, his maroon and white prayer rug unfurled underneath him.

A regular occurrence for the two men, it showed the world that against a deadly virus, we can put aside all differences in race, religion, colour, creed and find strength in our unity.

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