Quarantine is a privilege!

General fear of the consequences of the virus is currently expressed all over the world. In Germany, for example, by excessive stockpiling in supermarkets, where toilet paper in particular has been emptied. In her speech to all citizens, Chancellor Angela Merkel therefore warns: “Stockpiling makes sense, it always has, by the way. But with moderation. Hoarding, as if there was no tomorrow, is pointless and lacking in solidarity.” So, anything with sense and reason, don’t panic. But who should actually panic?

The answer is obvious: The poorest in society. For example, the homeless woman “Kendy” from Berlin reports to “Deutschlandfunk”: “Most of the shelters are closed. And I live in a hostel for 10€ per night, but that’s not always possible, because now, with so few people on the road, I don’t have a chance to get 10€ together.” In addition to the facilities that are still open, consideration is being given to organizing hotels as alternative possibilities to enable personal to protect themselves from the virus. This is hardly possible on the streets, and many homeless people are at great risk of the virus due to previous illnesses and bad general living conditions.

France. A report in “Die Zeit” talks about conditions in the Parisian suburbs, the so-called banlieue, some of which are known for pictures of cement houseblocks and reports about general crime. Despite the lock down imposed in France, not everyone there sticks to the rules. Residents have complained online about streets still being filled. About ten percent of the lock down violations occurred in the “Seine Saint Denis” district, despite the threat of a 230 euro fine. Resident Hamza Esmili told “Zeit”, that many of his neighbors are day laborers on constructions. They would share living and bed, sleeping in shifts. Following the rules like that? An impossibility. The non-profit association “Secours Populaire”, which is also active in the “Seine Saint Denis” neighborhood in the fight against poverty, explains in the French newspaper “LeParisien” that they fear a “food crisis and a lack of solidarity for the poorest” in addition to the health crisis. Moreover, there is already a shortage of some hygiene products, including diapers, probably due to increased demand in supermarkets.

People start to look at the poorest countries in the world with increasingly great concern. Some of the challenges set off by the coronavirus have not been or will not be met. A commentary by a leading German virologist, Christian Drosten, gives concrete expression to these fears: “Between July and August we will see images that we otherwise only know from cinema films. There will be scenes that we can’t even imagine today.”

To give an example, the “BBC” interviewed Ramesh Kumar from the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh about his daily life during the time of the pandemic: “I earn 600 rupees ($8; £6.50) every day and I have five people to feed. We will run out of food in a few days. I know the risk of coronavirus, but I can’t see my children hungry.”

If income only makes it possible to live from day to day or if housing, bed or sanitary facilities have to be shared, it is difficult or impossible to maintain curfews or quarantines. It is the bitter truth: quarantine is a privilege, in Germany as well as in the world.