tv Dateline London BBC News May 3, 2020 11:30am-12:01pm BST
to south korean beaches as returned to south korean beaches as the country turns the corner in the fight against coronavirus. uk plans to start live testing a phone app in the coming days to speed up covid—19 contact tracing and to help the country out of lockdown. the duchess of cambridge has shown her support for new parents and maternity staff with a virtual visit via video call. now on bbc news, carrie gracie presents dateline london. hello and welcome to dateline london. i'm carrie gracie. this week — another rollercoaster of
hopes and fears. there are lockdowns lifting in some parts of the globe and hopeful talk of vaccines and treatments, but elsewhere infections still rising. and warnings that half the world?s workers are at immediate risk of losing theirjobs. in fact, week by week, the economic fallout of this pandemic looks worse. and everyone wrings their hands and says we need a global response. so where is it? my guests, on socially distanced screens, are indian journalist ashis ray and german commentator thomas kielinger. welcome to you both. and here in the studio, observing the two metre rule, the bbc‘s chief international correspondent lyse doucet. lyse, thanks for being with us again. now, let's focus first on india, so big that everything can happen there at once in different places — infections still rising in some parts of the country and a partial lifting of the lockdown in others, but the damage to repair is huge with 140 million people estimated to have lost theirjobs.
so how is the indian government doing in helping them and balancing the difficultjudgments about how far to relax restrictions? that is obviously a question to start with you, ashis. thank you, carrie. india is either a miracle or a mystery, because, a country as vast as india with a population of 1.3 billion, has today less than 1500 deaths. now, the big question is, is this the real situation or is it something else? there are reports that many deaths may not have been recorded because india is a country where underprivileged people can die without diagnosis or treatment. and the second story which has emerged, and quite credibly, with doctors being quoted, is that many patients have come to hospital or been brought
to hospital after they have died and no postmortems have taken place, no testing of families and friends have taken place. so india is a situation where, if one is to be kind, the low testing is of great concern. because low testing leads to low tracing, and therefore containment becomes difficult. but, as i said, the officialfigures are still good compared to many parts of the world. asia in general has fared better than europe, except for china and iran, i guess. but india, again, is a situation where there is a humanitarian crisis and an economic crisis, because the humanitarian crisis was created by people being given less than four hours notice of the lockdown and therefore, millions of what are called migrant workers were left stranded in urban areas.
they come from remote parts of india and they simply did not know what to do, where to go. there were, again, millions who were literally walking hundreds of miles back to their villages. the second point is about the economic crisis which, like in any other country, india is facing and will face. gdp growth will collapse, but the stimulus package which has been offered so far seems to be quite inadequate. it seems to be in the region of £20 billion, where i think india needs to spend at least between 75 billion to 100 billion. thomas, pick up that point that ashis was just making about the economic judgment because obviously, the indian government has been talking about fiscal rectitude, whereas some other governments are saying, well, you've got to keep the patient alive, otherwise you have no economy when all of this is over. do you think india has misjudged, or is it taking a hard realism about what is affordable?
i think i tend to be more towards the hard realism aspects. it is all very well to say that you need to think of the destitute, and there are millions of them in india, and the situation ijust heard about is unconscionable, but you have to be careful about damaging the economy in the long term. there is this unfortunate balance that people have to strike and we haven't yet come up with an answer. what do you do? do you concentrate all your forces on the immediate need to help or are you beginning to be mindful of what long—term damage you might inflict on your country, too? which is totally unwelcome as well. so there we are, we are in the middle of this decision, we are living, as it were, from hand to mouth as far as theory is concerned. but we cannot put all our baskets in the here and now and throw all our money in trying to, sort of, solve the current
crisis by forgetting what might be the outcome in the long term. make this point global for us. we heard from the international labour organisation and mentioned their figure of half the world's workers being out of a job if we are not careful. everyone screaming for a global coordinated response and we have had weeks and months now of this coronavirus crisis. where is the global response? i think we live in a time where numbers can really be numbing but it was really staggering. half of the world's workers, and many of them are the kind of migrant workers that we were talking about. 1.6 billion in the informal economy, as we say. hand to mouth, daily wages. if they don't have daily wages they do not eat. there has been a chorus of voices since the beginning of this pandemic saying that if the global north wants to survive this and recover, the global south has to be brought along at the same time and the un secretary general spoke to the bbc this weekend bemoaned the that power and leadership hadn't come together to galvanise the world for a
coordinated response to this, and the acting president of the un security council was even more damning. he said it was a shame that, since this pandemic struck, that there had been only one meeting virtually of the un security council and so there's said to be tussling behind the scenes, arguments, particularly it is reported between china and the united states on two resolutions which would have a call for a global response to covid—19 but also calls for a covid—19 global ceasefire. that's the politics of it but there is also the economics of it. the world bank and the imf. they're talking about new kinds of funds and this week we had to be prime minister of ethiopia writing an 0p ed in the new york times saying, thank you very much for suspending the debt repayments but we need more than that. we need longer term and we need a cancellation of the debts because, as we heard from our chiefs
about what is happening in india, india has offered a safety net which is far far insufficient. and some countries have no funds at all or infrastructure to offer the kind of huge safety nets that in britain and the united states, other western countries are now talking about. you wanted to come in? i just wanted to add that it is a dilemma. india, like any other country, is in uncharted territory. and resources are scarce because the indian economy was already in the doldrums before covid—19 struck. but, having said that, the way out of this has to be spending money. if need be, printing money. india cannot afford to think of inflation that may happen as a result because you've got to save lives and livelihoods. thomas, can you take up the other point. the point that lyse was making about hand—wringing from international leaders about what is perceived as a g—zero international response. obviously, a decade ago,
we saw, after the global financial crash, a big cooperative effort to get the global economy back on track. what do you think is going to happen this time? let me get in on this point. very much so. because it is all very well to wring your hands, as has been said, where is the united response here and so forth? i think there is a response, a global response, and that is in the medical field. there are medical researchers the world over desperately trying to catch the source of this illness and find a vaccine against it. about economics, every country is responsible to its own populace to begin with. they are comfortable as democracies and first try to look at the situation of their countries that needs to be remedied. before you arrive at a global sort of staged response and there is a great deal of domestic issues to answer. in the meantime, the global response, i think, is quickening and
this response is in the medical field where people are putting all their energies and brainpower on trying to find a vaccine as 50011 as you can. and that is where i am quite hopeful we might eventually have a breakthrough, not too far away. i'm glad you gave us a moment of hope there. scientists are saying that we are cooperating. the who says there are some 80 efforts around the world to develop a vaccine in a period of months, which would normally take years. but what happens when that vaccine is found and there are clinical trials and then you have to develop it at scale and at speed. who gets the vaccine? who decides who gets the vaccine? what will be the cost of the vaccine? that is again where there has to be global response. it cannot be a race among the rich. we are going to park that question for now,
because we can come back to it next week or the week after. . . but i want to discuss the uncertainty around india's numbers. there are uncertainty around a lot of country's numbers at the moment. the number of countries with certainty around their testing and death rates is very small. one of the mysteries at the moment are some countries we would have expected to have a significant outbreak by now do not seem to have one. there is a bit, and even...| asked the united nations about this, the un's humanitarian chief, and he also used the word mystery. of course, the politics of the pandemic and the poverty of the pandemic. you have countries like turkmenistan and north korea who refused to say that they have any cases that will even know we can see reports from both countries that people are taking measures. but you also have the numbers which do not add up. you have a country like iran which has had more than 95,000 cases, and afghanistan next door, and the borders had been open when the pandemic first began, when the virus first struck. where there's only some 2200 cases. there is an idea that things,
to use a phrase used by the un, that things are brewing, that they are worse than they seem because there is no testing. i was also told by the un that in a place like afghanistan it is because maybe the transport system is not as active as it was in iran so it did not spread as quickly. the un is expecting that the peak will be reached in many of the poorer countries in the world in a three — six months. but it is a concern. do the un and other bodies things that they can use proxy figures like excess deaths or some other figure to make a rough assessment of whether the disease has already arrived at scale? it's very tricky. take a country like yemen, which is another one that is a bit of a mystery. they also have a political problem because the authorities in the north have not wanted to declare that there has been a kind of emergency because resources internationally are given to countries on the basis of the figures. how many cases and how many deaths. but how do you know in yemen
if you have got the symptoms of cholera? cholera is also rising. there has been historically significant outbreaks, the worst outbreaks in the world of cholera in recent years. 0r dengue, or malaria, or malnutrition, some of the doctors don't want to say or some families don't want to say that it is covid—19 because in some countries there is a stigma attached to it. in the villages where they bury people, are those figures being collected? the collection is difficult and back to testing. there is only, i am told 6700 tests in all of yemen and only 200 ventilators so how do you begin to track and trace and how do you begin to treat? a daunting challenge. i want to move on to the uk. which has faced its own challenges in all of these areas. thomas, borisjohnson back in downing street, new baby, happy news and saying that the uk is past the peak. but still beset by a range of challenges going forward. what do you see as the biggest?
well, the biggest challenge for boris johnson is not to fall in the trap of euphemisms and overoptimism. and when he says we are trying to get past the peak and things like that, in light of the recent mortality figures you have for britain, there were over 27,000 deaths in britain, it is going to be the top country in europe for mortality rates and so you have to be very careful not to overegg, as it were, the issue there is optimism and we are getting beyond the peak. you have to unite the two camps of opinion in britain. the ones who keep focusing on the health of the nation and the other camp which is focusing on the long—term economic problems if this lockdown continues unabated for too long. and so that is the biggest challenge. come together and bring the two
camps together so they are singing from the same hymn sheet, in uniting their forces to decrease the problem of greater mortality and at the same time making sure that the economy may be on the up in the foreseeable future. ashis, what is your sense of how uk former colonies in south asia, observing the uk experience, what do they think of their former colonial masters' handling of the virus? well, you know, it is, i think it is a bit of a backlash because people in south asia think that britain is doing very badly compared to south asia is doing, and figure certainly suggest that there are many more deaths in britain as compared to countries in south asia. so i have been getting phone calls and messages, hundreds of them in the past month or so enquiring as to how i am doing, am i being careful? and things like that. because the impression is that matters are really serious in britain,
whereas it is much better in the asian region. so that really is something that people think. there's also this feeling in south asia that the hot summer, the humid weather over the summer, will actually kill covid—19. it is a hope and an expectation but of course there is no evidence to establish that. well, we can't rely on a hot summer in the uk to sort it. lyse, just before we leave the uk, a quick one on face coverings and masks. because there is a division opening up between edinburgh and london on this. london possibly going to look like an international outlier again on the issue of covering one's face? the masks question, or to use the word the scientists prefer to use, face coverings, is an interesting one. i think the science has been consistent from the beginning. is that the masks don't necessarily protect us but they
mainly protect others. especially with the disease which can be asymptomatic, that you will be making sure that others you work with, especially in public spaces, that you are not going to be passing on the disease to them. and i think there is also a social aspect to it, too. in southeast asia but they have gone through pandemics before, many people wear masks and we notice in our own societies that people have come from southeast asia or have been there before, they are wearing masks. and there has been a discussion to say that it will send a message that we are all serious. notjust being serious about it but being seen to be serious about it, which is why there is a difference in how, for example, ministers here in london and the first minister in scotland have a slightly different view. and in scotland it is only for enclosed spaces where it is not possible to do social distancing, and i think nicola sturgeon has said
that social distancing is what, all the scientists agree is the most effective. but it's in these enclosed spaces we want to take every precaution. the science does not tell us, yes, yes, it will, that is the best way to protect yourself. but we may, more and more, be going towards coverings especially as you go towards opening public transport and we are in public spaces more, that more and more masks will be necessary. but i have to say, i wear a mask and you realise that when you when you see someone we but i have to say, i wear a mask and you realise that when you wear a mask you cannot tell if someone is smiling or not when you see someone, we will be so distant from each other we can't even smile at each other. all our human connections in trying to protect ourselves and others... a huge experiment. europe, give us a sense of why it is that central and eastern europe seem to have done better on the numbers than france, spain, italy, uk?
the first thing to remember is that those countries of the east were the first countries to absolutely clamp down on the necessary means to fight the virus. they had clamp—downs, social distancing right from the start and they were very rigid in ensuring that those measures were followed. the people in eastern europe, by and large, are somewhat more obedient and have been in following those rules imposed on them, whereas in a country like germany, which is not a model case by any means, they have a rather sort of cantankerous society which rebels against the imposition of their freedom. there is this dichotomy between the health camp and the freedom camp whereas in eastern europe people by and large accepted the need to follow the regulations that the government imposed and may be that, for my money, is the best explanation for why there is this difference. and just on germany, your home country,
you mention it there and of course it is taking some measures. we see different european countries beginning tentatively to unlock over the coming few days. what is your assessment of what the eu neighbours can learn from each other? well, there is a limit to what you can learn from each other. especially, there is a limit to what you can learn from germany. germany, as you know, is a highly decentralised country. we are a federation where, on top of the national government in berlin you 16 regional governments with a great deal of freedom to do their own thing in terms of health, schooling, education and so forth. so we have this tendency at the moment for some regions in germany going ahead before their neighbouring regions and there is not really so far, until the 6th of may when the government will come together, to decree and new national policy. until then you have a sort
of chequered system of individual regions doing their own thing. so how much you can learn from the german example, i am doubtful. i am doubtful, frankly. ashis, can you talk to us about the science? because we've seen over the past few days headlines about remdesivir, that ebola drug been used in severe cases now in the us. we had about blood plasma been trialled in the uk. talk of vaccines and trial starting on that. which of the science headlines, with a disclaimer, obviously, we know you're not an epidemiologist, but which give you hope? well, all i can say is that the drug has been approved as medication the united states by the federal drug authority. it is an anti flu medication and so, since the results apparently have been more promising with it than other types of medication, it is something that is going ahead in the united states.
whether it will be equally successful in other parts of the world, i don't know, but i'm sure america —— other countries will try more now that the fda has given it the go—ahead. talking about vaccines, again, you know, one can only guess whether it'll be six months or nine months or 18 months. it's something that we will have to wait and see but, obviously, matters on a very fast track. it is unprecedented. where people have certainly taken 12—18 months to find a vaccine, in this case it could happen much faster. and i dare say that the oxford experiment that is taking place, the vaccine that oxford university is trying to produce has already been authorised to an indian company and institute , the seram institute, for manufacture, for mass manufacture. the institute informs us that there will be 60 million
doses available before the end of the year. so this is quite remarkable. and whether it is effective ultimately or not, but one thing is certain, that the solution is a vaccine and nothing else. lyse, a quick word on any hope for the science from you? there really is extraordinary to see other scientist, the world's biggest laboratories and pharmaceutical companies are put aside other research to focus on the urgent need to find a vaccine. 80, around the world, says the who, and i think it is really extraordinary and yet again it underlines what humans are capable of when they know they are pushed and urgency is of the hour. our time is almost up but let's spare a thought for the news that is getting neglected. so tell me what story would dominate today if the coronavirus crisis
wasn't sweeping the world. may i remind you that britain had been in a lockdown situation before this current crisis and that is the brexit lockdown. for three years, the country was driven to distraction about brexit and suddenly brexit has disappeared, more or less. if it wasn't for the crisis we will now be back into the thick of things on the brexit debate, how are we going to manage? there is the danger of britain exiting the eu without a deal that would have been paramount in this country and it has completely disappeared. also there is a lack of discussion and there humanitarian crisis. the west sahara. this location, violence, huge traumatised people. we're not talking that because we have to deal with the current crisis.
yes, i think the us presidential election would have made headlines around this stage. obviously, donald trump and joe biden harping at each other, it has receded into the background. the primaries and caucuses are not being talking about and one of the fallouts of covid—19 is, of course, many western companies, even japanese companies, are pulling out of china. i think that is a story that could develop after the crisis has subsided to a certain extent. in india, i think, the economic wars and perhaps unemployment would have been the stories of this current time. irrespective, notwithstanding, covid—19. and lyse. even before this pandemic struck there was a yearning for good
news and there were some good news this week that sudan has criminalised female genital mutilation, fgm, three years in prison and that is a practice that still is, particularly across africa and middle east, so it sends a really positive signal. also, of course, in the movement there to end military rule rule women played a big role so it underlines again the importance of diversity at the table. thank you for giving us a positive headline to close. i will expect from you a story over the course of the week that you smile made you laugh, something to raise the spirits. i can't help butjoin the millions of people who were heartened and encourage by the spectacle of this gentleman, captain tom moore leading up to his hundredth birthday and hoping to engender money for a good cause and he thought he would collect £1000 and it has come up with 30 million at the end of it. i think it's so encouraging
to see people pitching and emphasise that we're all together in this, while we know not everyone is affected in the same degree in this crisis but it is a hopeful sign of a nation trying to find a moment of neighbourliness and concentrating their forces on the positive thing. 30 million people collected on behalf of... thank you, we're running out of time, and that's two very positive stories. ashis, you. you will be surprised by this but my nightly comic relief has been the press co nfe re nces in the white house. i think donald trump has kept us entertained. i don't take the man seriously and therefore, for me, it is light entertainment and after fools and horses it is donald trump at the white house. none of the rest of us have time to comment on that
but thank you for that, ashis, thomas, and lyse for being with us, and we will be back same time same place next week. for this week that is it. thanks for watching. hello, a lot more cloud around southern parts of the uk today thanks to this weather front here. misty and murky to the afternoon further north we will have some morning sunshine that we are going to spackle some heavy thunder v showers across parts of scotland, northern england down into the midlands and east anglia through the
day. actually on the north sea coast, typically temperatures in the mid teens. through the evening and overnight more showers for the north of scotla nd overnight more showers for the north of scotland and the south east of england. in the south we will keep the cloud again misty, murky, and busily, but mild double figures but further showers, a patchy frost hear... spill some showers for the north of england through monday morning, the odd one drifting south into the midlands and east anglia and by the afternoon we are looking largely dry, more in the way a sunshine to the south and some more.
this is bbc news with the latest headlines for viewers in the uk and around the world. as the uk's coronavirus death toll rises above 28,000, the prime minister describes preparations to announce his death while he was in intensive care for coronavirus. churches in germany reopen for sunday services with strict regulations in force and singing forbidden. a rare exchange of gunfire between north and south korea along the demilitarized zone, a day after kim jong—un's reappearance following a mystery absence. the uk plans to start live testing a phone app in the coming days to speed up covid—19 contact tracing if you and i have it and we are within bluetooth range of each other and i am later tested