This week on UpFront, epidemiologist Eric Feigl-Ding tells us why he believes it was right to declare the coronavirus a pandemic, and why governments should do more to stop its spread.

And in the Arena, we discuss the growth of far-right nationalist movements across the world with author and former neo-Nazi Christian Picciolini, and Cynthia Miller-Idriss, the author of Hate in the Homeland: The New Breeding Ground for Far Right Extremism.

Coronavirus inaction: Could leaders have blood on their hands?

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus a pandemic this week as many countries expanded travel restrictions, shut down schools and universities and clamped down on large public gatherings in a bid to contain the virus. 

Speaking on Wednesday, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that in the past two weeks the number of cases outside China had increased 13-fold, and expressed deep concern about the spread of the virus. He also raised concerns about "alarming levels of inaction".

Eric Feigl-Ding, an epidemiologist at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, told UpFront that he ranks the global collective effort to contain the coronavirus at B-minus, C-plus.

"I think testing in Korea is absolutely gold standard. But testing in the United States is absolutely abysmal," Feigl-Ding said. 

When asked whether some world leaders potentially have blood on their hands for failing to take action to contain the virus he said, "I think so."

As of March 8, South Korea had 3,500 tests per million people, the UK had 350 tests per million. In the US, according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there had been just five tests per million. Feigl-Ding said the lack of testing in the US, in particular, was a serious problem. 

"You need the testing to do contact tracing, who were they in contact with, locking down, isolation, and that's why without that testing and the investigative team footwork, you cannot contain this epidemic," he said. 

Feigl-Ding believes containment is key, and that people should keep to any quarantines that have been imposed, avoid public spaces and practise social distancing. 

"Unfortunately, I think in certain ways, you have to do extreme social distancing ... like all the sports games, public venues. But the draconianism of China, I don't know, because they have the Wuhan lockdown, but they also have residential lockdown for 750 million," he said. 

In this week’s Special Interview, epidemiologist Eric Feigl-Ding lays out what measures he thinks need to be put in place to contain the spread of the coronavirus. 

How big a threat is white nationalism?

A year ago this week a white supremacist massacred 51 Muslims in mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand in an attack that shocked the world and put the spotlight on the rise of racist attacks occurring worldwide.

"The level of violence, the number of people killed, the way it was live-streamed ... I think was really shocking," said Christian Picciolini, a former neo-Nazi who founded the Free Radicals Project, which works to deradicalise individuals.

In recent months there have been a number of attacks fuelled by white nationalism in places like Germany, France and the United States. Cynthia Miller-Idriss, a senior fellow at the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right, says the phenomenon is in part caused by a legitimisation of the ideology by mainstream politicians.

"You do see mainstream politicians here and overseas echoing the same kind of anti-immigrant, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic kinds of ideas or conspiracy theories," Miller-Idriss said.

"And if these people feel legitimised and like they can just walk around in public or enact violence, that is a problem," she added.

Connections between violent far-right groups from various countries have been known for decades, but the rise of social media platforms and increased connectivity have facilitated the ideology spreading across borders.

"When I was involved in the white supremacist movement in the US, from '87 to '96, we were already forging those connections in places like Germany. So I think that it's ramping up. I think that these connections overseas are starting to get more violent," Picciolini said. 

"The last couple of attacks in Germany, either the live-streaming or the manifestos were in English for a reason, right? ... They were designed to communicate to a larger audience and trying to speak to people outside of the country," said Miller-Idriss.

On this week’s episode of UpFront, we discuss white nationalism with Christian Picciolini and Cynthia Miller-Idriss.

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Source: Al Jazeera