Chapter 12 Afterword: Poverty and human rights
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In April 2020, just two months after the coronavirus crisis first broke out, the World Bank estimated that an additional 40-60 million people worldwide had already been pushed into extreme poverty as a result of the pandemic. Studies suggest that up to 400 million people will be forced below the poverty line of $1.90 a day when the immediate impact of the pandemic is combined with the effects of the profound global economic slowdown that many economists are forecasting. Some governments, including those of Australia, Singapore, Taiwan and New Zealand, took action early, and, in doing so, reduced the impact of the virus among their populations. Others, including Brazil, the UK and the US, received international condemnation for their negligent, reckless and in some cases inhumane handling of the pandemic. When this Afterword was authored, in June 2020, governments around the world were in the position of having to make urgent and life-threatening trade-offs: continue to keep populations under lockdown in order to save lives, all the while enhancing the prospect of a severe economic crisis; or ‘save’ the economy by removing lockdown restrictions sooner, meanwhile risking a second wave of infections, health system collapse and further deaths.

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