As the coronavirus pandemic continues, Bloomberg Opinion will be running a series of features by our columnists that consider the long-term consequences of the crisis. This column is part of a package on the impact that the spread of Covid-19 will have on immigration. For more, see Pankaj Mishra on how the coronavirus may change global attitudes toward immigration, and the Bloomberg Editorial Board on the post-pandemic changes needed to fix U.S. immigration policy.
A peculiar fact about the coronavirus catastrophe so far is that the world’s poorest have largely been spared the worst. Of the 10 countries with the most deaths to date, nearly all are among the wealthiest. But if the virus has overwhelmed places with modern hospitals and world-class medical infrastructure — as anyone who’s been in New York or Milan recently can attest — it could do still more catastrophic damage in places where the health-care system is fragile to start with. Perhaps nowhere is the risk greater than in the world’s refugee camps.