In Depth

The Week Unwrapped: Alcohol, furlonteering and swimming in sewage

Why are South Africa’s hospitals overflowing? Should furloughed staff be working for free? And why are British beaches still not clean?

Olly Mann and The Week delve behind the headlines and debate what really matters from the past seven days. Why are South Africa’s hospitals overflowing? Should furloughed staff be working for free? And why are British beaches still not clean?

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In this week’s episode, we discuss:

Coronavirus and alcohol

Hospitals in South Africa are dealing with a big influx of patients this week - not patients with coronavirus, but people who’ve been injured in alcohol-related accidents and violence. The cause of the sudden rise is the lifting of a ban on the sale of alcohol imposed when the country’s lockdown began in March. That measure was very effective - but also very unpopular.

Furlonteering

Hundreds of furloughed staff have been using their leave from work to donate their time and skills to struggling charities. But critics say a growing number of start-ups are now cashing in on so-called "furlonteering" to get free labour, funded by the taxpayer. So what are the other potential costs of this underreported practice, and is it ethical?

Swimming in sewage

The quality of bathing water at Britain’s beaches is among the lowest in Europe, as water companies continue to discharge raw sewage into rivers and other waterways. What’s meant to be an emergency dispensation to release untreated wastewater was exercised 140,000 times in 2018, and there are fears that the very wet weather this winter may have exacerbated the problem.

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