In Depth

Instant Opinion: ‘The great coronavirus success story is South Korea’

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Wednesday 8 April

The Week’s daily round-up highlights the five best opinion pieces from across the British and international media, with excerpts from each.

1. Dr Terence Kealey in CNN

on how to slow an outbreak

South Korea listened to the experts

“The great success story is South Korea, and we know how they did it: they tested... Initially, the authorities were swamped by the numbers of people who needed testing, but South Korean officials have tested contacts of those who have been infected. The authorities have made tests freely available and set up drive-in stations, modeled on McDonald's and Starbucks for anyone to use. Those who tested positive were then isolated, with the result that the epidemic was swiftly controlled without the country as a whole needing to be shut down. In the US and many other countries, however, a lack of testing kits prohibited the identification and isolation of individuals, so whole populations and whole economies have had to close down instead. By comparison, South Korea has been spared that fate partly by the government's response and partly by the swift reaction of its biotech industry.”

2. Marina Hyde in The Guardian

on making the worst of a bad situation

The horror of coronavirus is all too real. Don’t turn it into an imaginary war

“For his part, Dominic Raab – who will deputise for Johnson – was described as looking ‘shell-shocked’ last night, before this morning chairing the ‘war cabinet’. According to the breakfast interview inquiries thrown at Michael Gove, it seems that one of the primary questions is whether Raab is now technically in charge of the UK’s response to a notional nuclear attack. I suppose we have to treat this as a matter of vital pertinence, though like many people living through this 100-year deadly pandemic, I’d have just three words for any nuclear power contemplating an imminent first strike at the UK: not now, mate.”

3. Tom Harris in The Telegraph

on a new-look Labour

Keir Starmer’s shadow cabinet marks a giant leap from the dark days of Corbyn

“Because of the dysfunctional nature of the parliamentary Labour Party these past four years, and the mass resignations and boycotting of the front bench that ensued from that dysfunctionality, junior and under-performing MPs were of necessity drafted to serve and were given high profile jobs that, in a normal party and under normal circumstances, they would never have got near. It is the break from that ‘needs must’ approach adopted by Corbyn that has so benefited his successor. Starmer has been able to appoint on merit in a way that was simply not open to Corbyn.”

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4. Giulia Lagana in Al Jazeera

on the plight of farm workers

Without rights for farm workers, EU’s food supplies are at risk

“Even before the pandemic hit Europe, its agricultural system was struggling to remain economically viable despite massive EU funding. Crucially, it was also both environmentally and socially unsustainable, depleting soil, poisoning aquifers and concentrating power in the hands of retail cartels which have been driving prices so low that in many cases they are below production costs. As existing and forthcoming research published by the Open Society European Policy Institute (OSEPI) shows, farmers resort to cutting the only cost they have any control over - the price of labour.”

5. Michelle Cottle in The New York Times

on lies

Drop the curtain on the Trump follies

“Since Mr. Trump took office, a debate has raged among the news media about how to cover a man-child apparently untethered from reality. But with a lethal pandemic on the prowl, the president’s insistence on grabbing center stage and deceiving the public isn’t merely endangering the metaphorical health of the Republic. It is risking the health — and lives — of millions of Americans. A better leader would curb his baser instincts in the face of this crisis. Since Mr. Trump is not wired that way, it falls to the media to serve the public interest by no longer airing his briefings live.”

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