Covid-19 has been wreaking havoc around the world from its origin in the Chinese city of Wuhan to Italy and across the Atlantic to New York City.

Grieving communities and exhausted front-line workers have dominated global headlines since January.

Now outbreaks are manifesting in developing nations, who are already struggling with political instability, violence and precarious working situations.

An epidemic of this kind is shattering the lives of the most vulnerable in more ways than one.

Here is a look at how some of the rest of the world is fairing with Covid-19.


Ecuador

Horrifying images of abandoned coffins and bodies wrapped in plastic lying on the streets have been emerging from Ecuador.

As authorities struggle to collect and properly bury Covid-19 victims, loved ones have been left with the responsibility to take care of the deceased.

Many cover the bodies in what they can and lie them outside their homes due to the smell from the country's hot climate.

A corpse found lying on the street in Guayaquil, Ecuador

Officials have been handing out thousands of cardboard coffins as the numbers of coronavirus deaths jump every day.

In Guayaquil, there are waves of death and disappearance as hospitals and mortuaries become overwhelmed.

"Still, there are cases [on] local TV saying like 'I left my mother… in hospital and she died. It's 13 days later and they don’t know [where she is]’" Rossana Viteri, Country Director of Plan International in Ecuador told RTÉ News.

The number of confirmed cases and death toll is difficult to establish and the government will be the first to admit that.

Official figures show less than 1,000 fatalities but both the President Lenín Moreno and Interior Minster María Paula Romo said that the true death count is much higher.

People look at an abandoned body in Guayaquil, Ecuador 

Of particular concern too, is fate of vulnerable young women and girls during the pandemic who are confined to homes.

"I’ve been working on children's rights and equality for girls for quite a time. We think that the country is going back 20 or 30 years with this" said Ms Viteri.

Many young women will probably not go back to school due to the impending economic downturn, with oil production severely affected.

Even before the emergency, the rates of violence against women were already very high.

"Now they are at home. Most of the people who were violent towards them, or the men who raped them, are in their family or very near. So now they are home, locked with this situation" said Ms Viteri.


Peru

A similar situation is coming to head in Peru as hospitals become strained while trying to deal with a rapid rise in cases, with numbers doubling to 20,000 in just over a week.

Medical teams have to repeatedly reuse masks and bodies are being left in hospital hallways.

Frustration among healthcare staff is reaching boiling point and they have begun protesting over their safety.

Peru reported its first case of coronavirus on 6 March and it took 25 days to add 1,000 infections. Fourteen days later it reached 10,000 cases, official data show.

With very little notice in March, Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra decreed a nationwide lockdown, closed borders and called on citizens to self-quarantine.

The tough measures saw tourists, including a number of Irish citizens, confined to their hostels as Peruvian police enforced the shutdown.

They were later given permission to leave with help from the Irish Government.

Like many other counties, President Vizcarra's decision to close much of the economy will drive the country into a recession according to the International Monetary Fund.

Even Peruvians who grow the bushy plant used to make cocaine are feeling the effects of the downturn.

The coca farmers have seen prices fall 70% and want the government to buy up excess inventory, according to the news agency Reuters.


Malawi

Violent protests erupted in several parts of Malawi last week over government plans to put a lockdown in place from 18 April to curb the spread of Covid-19.

While the backlash may raise eyebrows abroad, GOAL's country director in Malawi told RTÉ that it is a more complex situation than it seems.

"Covid-19 has hit in the midst in what is a historic moment, politically in Malawi" said Philippa Sackett.

National elections were held in May 2019, when president Peter Mutharika was narrowly elected for a second term, only for the result to be annulled by the courts in February this year after allegations of voting irregularities.

Ms Sackett said that the political situation was already very tense as the country was no stranger to protests pre-pandemic.

She said there was a feeling the lockdown would not only be devastating for "people live hand-to-mouth" but there was suspicion amongst part of the population that the restrictions were a political move because the rules had "blocked voter registration and other processes that were linked to the elections".

For Philippa Sackett, there was a mood initially that it was "business as usual" after the restrictions were reversed.

Nurses have staged walkouts in hospitals over working conditions in addition to worries over having less than two dozen ventilators for the entire country and 25 intensive care unit beds

However, the Covid-19 reality for Malawi’s 18 million population is starting to hit home.

While it seemed the small African nation was initially spared by the pandemic in March, new community cases are emerging in high density areas.

An extra shortage of PPE, ICU beds, limited testing capacity and screening procedures has health care staff and aid agencies on edge.

Nurses have staged walkouts in hospitals over working conditions in addition to worries over having less than two dozen ventilators for the entire country and 25 intensive care unit beds.


Indonesia

Consisting of more than 17,000 islands, including Borneo, Java and Sulawesi, Indonesia is bracing for the worst with now 7,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and climbing.

Among the threat of Covid-19, there is another which could flare up in the next few weeks and cause an aggravation of respiratory ailments.

A firefighter battles the flames on peatland and forest at Sebangau national park, Indonesia

Indonesian forest fires during dry season have resulted in hundreds of thousands of people suffering from chronic respiratory problems that puts them at high risk of suffering acutely from the virus.

Last year, more than 2.3 million acres of forests and land were burned, choking everything around it.

Airports and schools were closed, costing Indonesia $5.2bn in damage and economic loses.

More than 900,000 people also reported respiratory illnesses.

From June, farmers ignite areas as a cheap way to clear land to make way for oil-palm plantations and other agricultural expansions.

Weak enforcement of restrictions to curb Covid-19 infections in rural Indonesia could see a repeat of the forest fires and smoke that was seen last year.


Bangladesh

Mixed messaging from the Bangladeshi government towards the end of March caused confusion across the country of 161 million people, as it declared a "general holiday" rather than a lockdown following the first confirmed case of Covid-19.

The holiday had the same rules as a shutdown, with transport and non-essential services suspended and social distancing encouraged.

It did not stop people defying the rules with 100,000 attending the funeral of a senior leader of the Islamist party in the district of Brahmanbaria.

Muslim devotees attend a funeral prayer for an Islamic preacher during the nationwide lockdown

Bangladeshis are worried about Covid-19 as numbers rise sharply with at least 300 new cases each day.

But the alarm bells of an economic fallout from the lockdown is sounding louder, said Shuprova Tasneem a journalist in the capital Dhaka.

More than 80% of employment is in the informal sector, meaning the businesses are highly fragile and vulnerable.

Stormy conditions are currently hampering harvest time and due to mobility restrictions and farmers are unable to deal with their crops before predicted flooding.

"People who are fishermen, farmers, labourers… this is a really, really terrible time. The loss of their livelihood is a bigger issue than not being able to socially distance" she said.

Garment making, which accounts for 80% of Bangladesh's $40 billion of annual exports, is also under the spotlight with over two million workers affected, according to the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).

Thousands of workers have been queuing to collect final wages from tables of banknotes set up at the Al Muslim factory, one of the biggest in the country that supplies some of the world's most famous labels like H&M.

Along with instructions to temporary close factories, a simple re-opening will not solve a massive shortfall.

Massive clothing brands have cancelled around $3 billion  in orders because of the pandemic, according to BGMEA.

For the majority of women employed in the sector, who earn about €85 a month, short term unemployment puts them at risk of being unable to afford food and education.

A government multi-million euro stimulus package was announced in March however workers still haven't received a payment according to Shyprova Tasneem.

"This [package] is to mainly guarantee the wages of workers from export orientated industries which the factory owners could take out as a 2% loan. On paper this is a really great idea but it is taking some time to implement and it hasn’t happened yet," she said.


Pakistan

For Muslims around the world, the Covid-19 pandemic will have a significant impact on the holy month of Ramadan, where worshippers traditionally gather together and pray, fast during the day and hold feasts after sundown.

One of the biggest issues for Muslims globally is the closure of mosques during restrictions.

In Ireland, guidelines from the Islamic Centre of Ireland state Muslims are strongly encouraged to adhere to decisions taken by Irish authorities regarding social distancing and staying at home, and is offering the availability of online Friday prayers. 

However in Pakistan, religious campaigners have been pushing back against government lockdown advice to reopen mosques for Ramadan.

There are over 10,000 confirmed cases of the virus there with its first confirmed case on 26 February. More than 200 have died.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan last week announced a 14-day extension to the ongoing nationwide shutdown until 30 April, and said public gatherings were not permitted.

Prominent imams put pressure on the government though to keep all mosques open.

President of Pakistan Dr Arif Alvi succumbed to the pressure, outlining rules to those who want to pray in mosques stating they had to social distance and brings their own prayer mats.


Cambodia

Critics of authoritarian leaders around the world claim they have taken advantage of the current pandemic to give themselves sweeping new powers.

One of them is the Prime Minister of Cambodia, Hun Sen, who initially downplayed the threat of the virus by telling Cambodians they had a virtual immunity to the disease, discouraged the wearing of face masks and even threatened to throw journalists out of press conferences if they wore them.

When his tune changed, the government took action by closing down the country in stages since the beginning of March.

While Cambodia has not seen soaring Covid-19 numbers compared to other south-east Asian nations, the country's national assembly passed emergency laws granting Hun Sen vast new powers.

Authorities are now allowed to carry out unlimited surveillance of telecommunications, control press and social media, restrict freedom of movement and assembly and enforce quarantines.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen

Already news station TVFB had its broadcasting license removed on the grounds that one of its journalists broadcast information "which was to generate an adverse effect on the security, public order and safety of society".

According to Human Rights Watch, the reporter, Sovann Rithy was arrested after posting an excerpt from Hun Sen's speech on his personal Facebook page which said: "If motorbike-taxi drivers go bankrupt, sell your motorbikes for spending money. The government does not have the ability to help."

Rights groups said the new powers are an opportunistic move to exploit the coronavirus pandemic by weakening democratic rights and strengthening personal power.

Human Rights Watch described it as a "recipe for dictatorship " while Amnesty International said it was a "naked power grab which seeks to manipulate the Covid-19 crisis in order to severely undercut the human rights of everyone in Cambodia."


Burkina Faso

Before Covid-19, aid agencies in Burkina Faso were already trying to navigate the rules of war so they could carry out important work in a country deprived of basic public services due to the ongoing conflict.

Within the past few months, around 840,000 people have been displaced by worsening violence from Islamist armed groups.

At least 90 civilians were killed in villages in late January, according to Human Rights Watch.

Over 100 health facilities have been closed in places ravaged by conflict, with other centres operating at minimum capacity.

Humanitarian groups are now facing additional barriers following an outbreak of the coronavirus in the West African nation, as they try and provide essential health care to already vulnerable communities in a very unstable security situation.

Around this time of the year, medical groups are usually tackling malnutrition and malaria peaks.

However with health facilities closed, people stranded in inaccessible areas and restriction on movements to curb the spread of Covid-19, aid agencies are becoming paralysed.

A security guard at a supermarket distributes hydro-alcoholic gel in Ouagadougou, Burkino Faso

Other diseases like measles are also causing huge concern.

Médecins Sans Frontières teams in Burkina Faso had to temporarily suspend and reorganise a mass measles vaccination campaign in Fada N'Gourma due to new regulations about mass gatherings.

However MSF's Chef de Mission in Burkina Faso, Abdalla Hussein told RTÉ News that they have learned to adapt, opening up discussions with locals to make sure the area is safe for them to conduct vaccination programmes for children in their homes rather than in large groups.

"We are trying to do a door-to-door vaccination in a completely insecure place. Our teams are negotiating for us with all the actors in the area trying to make sure the security of the teams and take into the consideration of the infection control measures" he said.

"We cannot let measles ravage the community" he added.

Temporary interruptions of these preventive programmes could trigger new outbreaks as the deadly coronavirus continues to spread, the aid agency warned.

It comes as the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that severe disruptions to access to antimalarial medicines could lead to a doubling the number of malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa this year.


Libya

With war in Libya, the real Covid-19 picture is almost impossible paint. As of 23 April, there were 59 confirmed cases of the virus but similar to Burkina Faso the threat of violence is making tackling the pandemic not an easy feat.

While the numbers seem low, the WHO said the risk of further spread of the virus is exacerbated by growing levels of insecurity, political fragmentation, surveillance systems and high numbers of migrants.

There are only two testing laboratories and less than one thousand tests have been performed to date.

Following the overthrow of longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, power has been torn between the UN backed Government of National Accord and renegade commander Khalifa Haftar (below).

Armed militias have also been exploiting the turmoil.

More than 200,000 people are internally displaced while Libya's health system continues to deteriorate further due to fragmented governance, limited financial resources and a shortage of basic equipment.

A 400 bed hospital in Tripoli, which was a Covid-19 assigned facility, was attacked on 7 April while the 'Man-Made River Project’ was also targeted, cutting water to more than two million people.

Strong preventive measures of border closures, restricted movement and closures of non-essential businesses have been taken.

Nevertheless, community transmission is likely which has the potential to "significantly impact on Libyans, migrants and refugees" according to WHO.

Even as the conflict continues, oil-exporting Libya is home to thousands of migrant workers from Tunisia.

Hundreds were recently stranded for weeks as both countries closed their borders to try and stop Covid-19 spreading.

While the International Organisation for Migration said they have since crossed back into Tunisia, there still remains an unknown number of migrants and refugees in detention centres in Libya.

A Covid-19 outbreak could further see conditions in these "inhumane" institutions deteriorate.


Syria

It is already well-known that health facilities in a Syrian province the size of Co Galway are completely overstretched, low on supplies or unable to function due to damage.

For the three million people in Idlib, the last opposition-held stronghold in Syria, they are bracing for another fight. This time towards what's been dubbed the 'invisible enemy'.

Heavy bombing and shelling in the region uprooted almost one million people in the last couple of months, pushing them towards the Turkish border to overcrowded camps where social distancing is impossible.

Living conditions here make those displaced particularly vulnerable to the deadly virus.

Health officials are warning that at least 100,000 people could die from an outbreak in the north-west.

While a fragile ceasefire currently holds, scores of Syrians are more fearful of the coronavirus than war.

Despite the risk of renewed conflict, tens of thousands of displaced Syrians have weighed up their options and are returning home to the province.

Vans and trucks packed with mattresses and belongings were seen snaking along a road through Idlib in the middle of April.

With just over 40 confirmed cases in Syria, President Bashar Al-Assad has closed non-essential businesses, borders and schools and restricted movement across provinces to curb the spread of the virus.

But there are fears of a hidden outbreak.

Syria's north-west does not yet have a confirmed case of coronavirus, but Covid-19 could be another tragedy for the area in an already challenging situation.