THE seriousness of the coronavirus crisis at home hardly leaves any room to consider how bad it is elsewhere. News coverage is increasingly reporting on European countries where the lockdown is being lifted, reflecting the hope that we, too, will soon be in an improving situation. However, in truth the Covid-19 pandemic is worsening elsewhere.

In Africa, it is now estimated that there could eventually be a quarter of a BILLION coronavirus cases. The World Health Organisation believes that 231 million people could contract Covid-19 over the next year, although a lower rate of transmission and spread of the pandemic than in other continents may result in “only” 180,000 deaths.

With health provision in Africa’s 54 countries already stretched, the impact on lifeline services, including immunisation and maternity, is expected to be huge. The first coronavirus case in Africa was reported as late as February 14. The virus has since claimed the lives of thousands across the continent, including those of the former president of the Republic of Congo and former prime minister of Somalia.

In Asia, the huge camps for Rohingya refugees at Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh have just reported their first cases. Nearly one million Rohingya men, women and children driven from their homes in Myanmar are confined in the camps, which have a higher population density than some of the biggest cities in the world.

Aid organisations are warning of a potential humanitarian disaster in a place where there is no opportunity for social distancing or maintaining basic hygiene to reduce the risk of transmission. Even before the pandemic, one-third of the refugees had underlying health conditions, especially respiratory problems.

According to the health director of Save the Children in Bangladesh, Dr Shamim Jahan: “There are only an estimated 2000 ventilators in all of Bangladesh, serving a population of 160m people. In the Rohingya refugee camps – home to nearly a million people – there are no intensive care beds at this moment.”

He went on to warn about the devastating potential scale of the infection: “Now that the virus has entered the world’s largest refugee settlement in Cox’s Bazar we are looking at the very real prospect that thousands of people may die from Covid-19. This pandemic could set Bangladesh back by decades.”

In the Middle East, there is particular concern about the dramatic rise in coronavirus deaths in war-torn Yemen. With a high proportion of the population dependent on food aid, a lack of social distancing and an overwhelmed health system, the conditions are present for an “unspeakable” crisis. In the last week, hundreds of deaths have been reported in the port city of Aden alone, at the same time as several hospitals have closed completely after health staff refused to work without personal protective equipment.

In South America, Brazil remains at the heart of the pandemic, with its president, Jair Bolsonaro, seemingly doing everything he can to undermine public health measures. Despite the number of infections

still increasing, he has classified gyms and hairdressers as essential services and wilfully disregards advice from the World Health Organisation.

Worryingly, only a minority of the population in the worst-hit city, Sao Paulo, are now following the Stay at Home message, and with testing only taking place in Brazil’s hospitals, it is estimated that the level of infection may be 15 times higher than official projections.

With these and other international examples of the coronavirus challenges happening right now, the international aid organisation Mercy Corps has launched a Give It Up campaign to raise money for its Covid-19 resilience fund. The fund supports public health measures that slow the spread of the virus, provides access to basics for vulnerable families and helps economies recover from this crisis.

Communities are helped in the following specific areas: clean water supplies; sanitation equipment; public information to reduce transmission; mental health support; food and cash assistance; hygiene kits; market-based support; agricultural assistance; and help for small businesses.

Given how challenging the coronavirus is for us in a developed country, it is difficult to imagine how tough it is for many people the rest of the world.

With the Stay at Home message still in force here, Mercy Corps is asking if there something you are no longer doing, and where you are making a saving? If so, they are asking if can you “Give It Up” to help others around the world?

Those little savings, the money we’re all no longer spending on the things we’re giving up for lockdown, can make a huge difference to the lives of those most at risk from Covid-19.

Every donation, no matter how small, goes towards providing essentials such as clean water, medicine and protective equipment to those that need it.

If you can support the campaign, then please visit Mercy Corps and donate via