Slider
Slider

|

Slider

BC’s Tales of the Pacific | Unseen casualties of Covid

Editorials & Columns
Typography
  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

AMID the grim statistics of worldwide Covid casualties, there are segments of the population that are catching the full brunt of the health crisis.

Yet their suffering goes virtually unreported. I want to draw attention to these unfortunate victims.

Refugee camps — Around the world, in war-torn places like the Middle East, Africa and eastern Europe, tent cities hold tens of thousands of people who are essentially homeless and living hand to mouth. They are packed into a small space and have very little health care, conditions ripe for the spread of disease. When outbreaks occur within a refugee camp, little is heard about it. Reporters don’t like to cover such beats and most television viewers don’t want to see it. Like human trafficking, refugee camps live outside our attention span, out on the periphery of our vision and compassion. When a man is shot in the streets of an American city people rise up and demand justice. When a thousand refugees die in a Syrian tent city, we say, “What else is on?”  And since Covid statistics are reported by organized governments, chances are good that the deaths in the camps won’t even make it into the newspaper. Often, when someone dies insignificantly, we say they are just another statistic. A refugee who dies of Covid probably won’t even be that.

Sailors stuck at sea — It is a humanitarian crisis that is only reported in specialized news outlets. Thousands of ships are trapped at sea because no one will let them dock. We remember the crisis over cruise ship passengers stuck at sea, which has largely been solved. But perhaps you are not aware that cargo ships are in a similar predicament. Tens of thousands of sailors who work on cargo ships, tankers, ferries, and fishing vessels have been at sea for months now. Some have been stuck on board since February. For example, off the coast of California a floating city has developed, made up of hundreds of oil tankers and cargo ships who have nowhere to go. Since the price of gas dropped, oil producers have had to park their fleets. The onshore storage tanks are full and consumers are not buying enough gas to empty them, making room for more. The result is that full tankers sit at sea and wait. The same can be said for bulk carriers and container ships. Well, all those ships have crews. Some have been rotated out, but many have not. Many ports will not let the sailors come ashore for fear they carry Covid. So, they just float out there and wait.

People stuck abroad — If you are quarantined, you are likely stuck at home. At least you have that going for you. Imagine being on vacation when the quarantine went into effect and you cannot return to your family and friends. Imagine being a college student studying abroad whose campus has shut down. You cannot stay and you cannot go home. I recall a movie a few years back where Tom Hanks was stuck in an airport for months because his passport was revoked while he was flying. At the time I thought, “How horrible it must be to be trapped neither here nor there, frozen in time and space.” For people stuck abroad, that movie has become their reality. They can see their families only via internet, they cannot work, in some cases cannot leave their hotel room in a foreign country. We can only hope they are stuck in one of their favorite vacation spots. Then again, that may add to the torture.

Illegal aliens — Whereas refugees live outside the radar, illegal aliens live under it. People who are in a country illegally do not go to hospitals, do not seek government assistance, and often do not have the financial means to acquire medication. They live a scratch existence, hoping they go unnoticed. Illegal aliens who get Covid run a greater risk of dying from it, and no one will know about it. How many aliens have already died that we have no idea about? How many more will?

These are some of the unseen casualties of Covid. Can anything be done for them? Well, how have we been managing with the cases we see?

BC Cook, PhD lived on Saipan and has taught history for 20 years. He currently resides on the mainland U.S.


previous arrow
next arrow
Shadow
Slider

Read more articles

Visit our Facebook Page

previous arrow
next arrow
Shadow
Slider