Coronavirus’s Impact on Human Rights

In light of the recent coronavirus epidemic, ACHRS would like to address the impact on human rights that the virus will have. The virus originated from the city of Wuhan, Hubei province, China in late 2019. It has rapidly spread throughout the world, causing a state of panic. The World Health Organization declared a state of emergency after the disease spread across the globe. However, the response to this international health crisis will negatively affect the human rights of millions through censorship, arbitrary detention and discrimination. ACHRS believes that such human rights violations should not be used as a means to deal with the virus and such discriminatory means will not mitigate its spread.

Many nations have attempted to suppress information and statistics regarding Coronavirus out of fear that it will negatively impact their economies and cause panic among the public.  The Chinese government has engaged in extensive efforts to suppress information regarding Coronavirus in an effort to minimally impact its economy, which is one of the largest in the world. Iran has also engaged in efforts to suppress statistic to keep its international image intact. Lack of access to information regarding the virus is a violation of human rights because it inhibits people from being able to protect themselves against it. Many other nations have also covered up statistics or are not properly testing so the virus appears less prevalent among their populations.

Many will also suffer from lack of access to medical care as facilities become overwhelmed with Corona patients. Adequate access to health care is a basic human right, according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Medical facilities, especially those in developing countries, will not be able to accommodate the number of people seeking medical treatment. People will inevitably be turned away from hospitals after waiting for hours to receive medical care. Medical staff will have to decide who lives and dies because there will not be enough respirators to accommodate all of those suffering from respiratory illness.

The human rights impact of the virus goes beyond suppression of information and lack of access to health care. Corona is being used as a justification for discrimination and xenophobia.  Global reports indicate that there has been an incline in anti-Asian attacks. Nations are also closing borders and quarantining those coming from certain countries. States will use the virus as a justification to close their borders to certain nationalities and wrongfully discriminate against specific populations. ACHRS is also concerned that some quarantine conditions will be inhumane and not meet basic international human rights standards. It is essential the quarantines are carried out in a safe and respectful way.

The Jordanian government has recently taken measures to fight the spread of the virus including banning shisha in cafes, closing schools and stopping all ingoing and outgoing flights. ACHRS is concerned that Jordan will not have the resources to accommodate the numbers of people in need of medical treatment. Its hospitals are already overwhelmed with the influx of refugees from neighboring war-torn countries. ACHRS hopes that Jordan, the Arab world and the international community will respect basic human rights. However, in instances of crisis and mass panic ACHRS knows that human rights are commonly abused.

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