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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - The Covid-19 pandemic has shown how the Earth can recover “if we allow it to rest” Pope Francis said on Tuesday as he urged people to adopt simpler lifestyles to help a planet “groaning” under the constant demand for economic growth.
In his latest urgent appeal to help a fragile environment, Pope Francis also renewed his call for the cancellation of debts of the most vulnerable countries. Such action would be just, he said, since rich countries have exploited poorer nations’ natural resources.
“In some ways, the current pandemic has led us to rediscover simpler and sustainable lifestyles,” Pope Francis said in a written message.
“Already we can see how the Earth can recover if we allow it to rest: the air becomes cleaner, the waters clearer and animals have returned to many places from where they had previously disappeared,” he wrote. “The pandemic has brought us to a crossroads.”
The pontiff urged people to seize the opportunity to reflect on their habits of energy usage, consumption, transportation and diet.
Until now, “constant demand for growth and an endless cycle of production and consumption are exhausting the natural world,” the pope said, adding, “Creation is groaning.”
People must be aware of their rightful place in nature, never thinking themselves masters of what Pope Francis described as the “interconnected web of life.”
Disintegrating biodiversity, climate disasters and the “unjust impact of the current pandemic on the poor and the vulnerable” amount to a “wake-up call in the face of our rampant greed and consumption,” the pope wrote.
At least 851,321 people worldwide have died since Covid-19 surfaced in China late last year. More than 25.5 million cases have been registered.
The pope’s comments came a day after the World Health Organisation warned countries not to rush to re-open if outbreaks are not under control.
On Monday, WHO head Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “no country can just pretend the pandemic is over,” and warned that “opening up without having control is a recipe for disaster.”
One of the WHO’s six special envoys on Covid-19 also highlighted Sweden’s virus response as a model that other countries should be emulating in the long run.
Dr David Nabarro pointed to the Nordic nation which has imposed far fewer restrictions on movement than others, and instead relied on Swedes to act responsibly and embrace the guidelines laid out by the country’s health authorities.
“In Sweden, the government was able to trust the public and the public was able to trust the government,” Dr Nabarro said.
He described a lockdown as “a blunt instrument” that “really bites into the livelihoods of everybody, particularly poorer people and small businesses.”
Sweden’s Covid-19 death rate is considerably higher than in many other countries, at 57 per 100,000, but the pace of new infections and deaths has slowed markedly since the end of June. Issues in isolating care homes was blamed on a high early toll.
Now the country says it is ready to impose stricter rules on local communities in the event of sudden Covid-19 outbreaks, but said it remains committed to its broader national strategy of limited restrictions on movement.
Europe more broadly is handling a resurgence but schools began to open up for the new school year and in the UK the government started to ramp up its back to work message.
Russia surpassed the 1 million mark in cases as health officials report 4,729 new confirmed infections and Peru overtook Belgium as the country with the highest per capita death rate with 87 fatalities per 100,000 inhabitants.
French pharma giant Sanofi said that international phase 3 clinical tests of its Kevzara drug for serious Covid-19 cases have proved inconclusive and it is halting the trial.
Meanwhile, Canadian researchers say they are investigating a popular superfood – the acai berry – as a treatment to prevent Covid-19's most severe symptoms.
Updated: September 1, 2020 06:48 PM
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