Introduction: The COVID-19 pandemic and socio-economic Rights

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Kurian, Rachel
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Global Campus Human Rights
COVID-19 is the respiratory disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), which was first detected in Wuhan, China, in 2019. On 30 January 2020 the World Health Organisation declared the outbreak of COVID-19 a Public Health Emergency of International Concern and on 11 March assessed it as a pandemic. Since its onset, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected 221 countries and territories, and caused millions of deaths. In the wake of the pandemic, governments initially focused on accessing and distributing vaccines, enforcing social distancing and mask-wearing, closing schools and public events, and restricting the movement of people via border closures, lockdowns and curfews, to avoid the spread of the virus. While some of these measures were eased up in 2021, there was continued vigilance on minimising risk of exposure as, in many countries, the easing has also been associated with the occurrence of more cases. While the macro-level figures have been contested, as have the policies and priorities of governments, they highlight to some extent the spread and intensity of the pandemic and the efforts by governments to contain the infection. What they do not fully reveal are the inequalities and inequities in the occurrence and experience of the virus globally and within countries, and how marginalised and discriminated groups were often exposed to greater risks in the context of COVID-19. It is therefore essential from a social justice and human rights perspective to use a political economy framework and analyse the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has posed for vulnerable groups, and to struggle to ensure that post-pandemic growth be guided and embedded in a more equitable and inclusive pattern of development.
COVID-19 pandemic, social rights, economic rights
Rachel Kurian. “The COVID-19 pandemic and socio-economic rights.” (2021) 5 Global Campus Human Rights Journal 1-8