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LONDON — Britain’s authorities is contemplating a lockdown for the central English metropolis of Leicester amid a spike of COVID-19 instances — the primary time {that a} single UK space would face such an excessive measure throughout the pandemic.

The Sunday Occasions first reported {that a} lockdown may come inside days after 658 new instances have been recorded within the Leicester space within the two weeks as much as June 16.

House Secretary Priti Patel acknowledged in a BBC interview Sunday that ministers have been contemplating the transfer.

“There might be help going into Leicester and actually the well being secretary was in contact with many people over the weekend explaining a few of the measures, the help on testing, sources that may go into the native authority as properly,” Patel mentioned. “With native flare-ups it’s proper now we have a localized answer.”

However Patel gave no indication of the quantity of people that could possibly be affected by the native lockdown being mentioned or whether or not the encircling space could be affected. Leicester has a metropolis inhabitants of 330,000.

The spike comes amid fears that the illness has been spreading by means of town’s massive Asian group, who typically dwell in multi-generational households. The native outbreak underscores the disproportionate hit that the pandemic has had on Britain’s minority communities.

Britain has Europe’s worst confirmed coronavirus dying toll, with some 43,600 useless and Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative authorities has been strongly criticized for what has been seen as a sluggish, chaotic response to the pandemic.

Britain is now slowly rising from a complete nationwide lockdown imposed on March 23, with plans to ease issues additional by early subsequent month. That reopening plan has rested on the notion that native outbreaks could possibly be tamped down by means of aggressive applications to trace, take a look at and hint these contaminated.

Now with a take a look at case within the offing, it’s changing into clear that finishing up such a plan might not show so easy.

Keith Neal, emeritus professor of the epidemiology of infectious illnesses on the College of Nottingham, mentioned defining the lockdown space could be “one of many largest issues,” as native authority boundaries can run down the center of a avenue.

Folks might be confused as to who’s within the lockdown and who’s out, he mentioned.

“Locking down on the regional degree could be seen as unfair or worse, as Leicester Metropolis has actually little or no to do with rural Lincolnshire,” he mentioned. “Folks don’t establish with their regional boundaries and plenty of wouldn’t truly know the place they’re.”

Native lawmaker Claudia Webbe accused the federal government of being sluggish to reply and mentioned that native authorities haven’t been given the assistance and the data they should assault the outbreak head on.

“What they’ve been doing is giving Leicester bows and arrows to deal with a significant pandemic drawback,” she informed the BBC. “That is ridiculous.”

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Billions of children are being punished by the pandemic

Vijay Prashad July 6, 2020 12:00AM (UTC)

This article was produced by Globetrotter, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

The Great Lockdown lingers month upon month. The virus continues its march across the world; the disease continues to infect people and take lives. Uncertainty grips all of us, unsure if the disease's peak has been reached and if the Great Lockdown will soon slowly lift. In places such as Brazil, India, and the United States, the irresponsible and incompetent governments are eager to open things up to galvanize economic activity; they do not appear as concerned about breaking the chain of the infection. U.S. President Donald Trump said that he wanted testing to be slowed down, a dangerous statement that goes against all the advice from the World Health Organization. No sense in ending the Great Lockdown if such an opening is only going to continue to infect people and prevent a proper end to the pandemic.

There are immense casualties from this Great Lockdown. Incomes have collapsed for half the world's population, while hunger rates are on the rise. But there are other casualties, other victims, often less remarked upon.

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Digital divide

Parents around the world have been confounded by the school closures. Their children have been at home, experimenting with different forms of home schooling. Schools have closed in 191 countries, with at least 1.5 billion students and 63 million primary and secondary school teachers out of the classroom. Where the internet is widely available, children have been able to do their schooling through web-based platforms, although the character of the learning is doubtful. Concentration has diminished, and the depth of the educational experience has become shallow.

Where the internet is not available, children have been unable to continue with their studies. A UNICEF study from 2017 showed that 29 percent of youth worldwide — about 346 individuals — are not online; on the African continent, 60 percent of children are not online compared to 4 percent of European children who are not online.

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Many of these children can go online with a phone and with expensive cellular data; they do not have a computer or wireless internet connections at home. A UNESCO study recently found that half of the children who are not in a classroom — namely 830 million students — do not have access to a computer; more than 40 percent of children have no internet at home. In sub-Saharan Africa, almost 90 percent of students have no household computer and 82 percent cannot get online through broadband at home. The digital divide is real, and it continues to impact the educational opportunities of children during this pandemic.

There is no clarity that these children will be able to go back to school anytime soon. Creative ways to continue distant learning—such as the use of community radio stations and television channels—are being studied. But there has been no will to impose a mandate for educational programming on private television channels and radio stations.

Violence

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In June, the WHO, along with other UN agencies, released a landmark study, "Global Status Report on Preventing Violence Against Children 2020." Sadly, this study — like so much about the status of children in our time—has received almost no news coverage.

The data on violence against children — before the Great Lockdown — is shocking. One out of every two children aged two to seventeen experienced some form of violence each year. A third of students between the ages of eleven and fifteen have been bullied by their peers during the past month, while about 120 million girls have suffered from forced sexual contact before the age of twenty (it is important to note that there are no global numbers on the rates of sexual violence against boys). The report offers the first-ever global homicide number for children under the age of 18; in 2017, 40,000 children were victims of homicide. Laws exist in 88 percent of the world's countries that forbid all these atrocities; yet, reporting rates are low, and in at least 47 percent of the countries, enforcement is miserable.

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The WHO study says that violence rates against children have increased during the pandemic and such violence "is likely to have long-lasting negative consequences." In many countries — such as the United States — there is a decline in reporting of child abuse cases to child protection services; this, the study's authors argue, is because the "frontline providers in the community such as teachers, social workers, nurses, physicians — who under normal circumstances would recognize the signs of abuse — no longer [have] direct contact with children, and therefore [are] unable to report suspected abuse." In the United Kingdom, calls to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children rose by 20 percent.

Movement restrictions, unemployment, isolation, overcrowding, and other factors, the report notes, "have heightened levels of stress and anxiety in parents, caregivers and children." For those households where family violence is already a problem, this is a nightmare scenario. "Stay-at-home measures have limited the usual sources of support for families and individuals — be they friends, extended family, or professionals — further eroding their ability to successfully cope with crises and the new routines of daily life." Writing in the Atlantic, Ashley Fetters and Olga Khazan say that this is "the worst situation imaginable for family violence."

Solutions

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While the Great Lockdown continues, no good solutions exist for either the digital divide or the violence inside homes. Without a robust public sector that invests in free and universal internet access and provides computers to each child, there is going to be no real breakthrough of the digital divide.

Similarly, unless governments transform their public health systems and social worker programs to have routine contact with households in communities, there will be no real way to identify cases of child abuse and protect the children.

No amount of privatization or philanthropy can solve the problems of the digital divide and of violence against children. What is needed are well-funded programs of a decentralized but robust state, with free Wi-Fi and neighborhood public health and social work offices. In a post-COVID-19 world, such policy demands should be at the tip of the world's tongue. It is the only approach that will be able to provide children with protection.


Vijay Prashad

Vijay Prashad is an Indian historian, editor and journalist. He is a writing fellow and chief correspondent at Globetrotter, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He is the chief editor of LeftWord Books and the director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research. He has written more than twenty books, including The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World (The New Press, 2007), The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South (Verso, 2013), The Death of the Nation and the Future of the Arab Revolution (University of California Press, 2016) and Red Star Over the Third World (LeftWord, 2017). He writes regularly for Frontline, the Hindu, Newsclick, AlterNet and BirGün.

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