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Europe's week: 'Love is not tourism' & nurturing nature

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A person wearing a protective face mask and gloves as a precaution against the coronavirus walks by the Robert Indiana sculpture "LOVE" at John F. Kennedy Plaza,
A person wearing a protective face mask and gloves as a precaution against the coronavirus walks by the Robert Indiana sculpture "LOVE" at John F. Kennedy Plaza,   -   Copyright  Matt Rourke/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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Life in Europe is slowly gaining a semblance of normality, with cinemas, swimming pools and some borders reopening.

But while many of us can travel to see loved ones, there are still some who are blocked from being reunited.

'Love is not tourism'

Unmarried couples separated by the travel ban have been rallying on social media. Even the Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johannson, has lent her support to the Love is Not Tourism hashtag.

But there are some heartbreaking stories of separation: we heard from one American woman Corsi Crumpler. Sean Donovan, the Irish father of her unborn child, is battling with the US embassy in Dublin to make it to the States for the birth.

At 38 weeks pregnant Corsi (28) and Sean (29) have been fighting for months to get visa approval for him to travel to Texas. They had filed for a K1 fiance visa in February, but then coronavirus hit in March, and US President Donald Trump brought in a travel ban.

"Back in March I thought maybe the travel bans wouldn’t affect us at all, I thought he would still be able to come over late May, early June, mid-June at the latest," said Corsi.

"We were actually told by the American embassy in Dublin, that we would qualify for him travelling over to me for the birth of the baby; Then they said ‘oh no, you don’t actually qualify, that was a misunderstanding."

She has been cheering on the #LoveisNotTourism campaign especially the European countries opening up to unmarried couples.

"The fact that Europe is making exemptions for couples that don’t even have children, that is such a huge step in the right direction. Why can’t the US follow suit?" she asks.

Under a White House proclamation on March 14, she argues that Sean should be allowed to travel, as "he is the father of a US citizen under the age of 21", which should grant him an exemption from the ban.

She added if the exemption is not honoured: "I don’t know when my son will meet his father. I will be forced into single motherhood by the American government because they have decided for me that my family is non-essential".

Nurturing nature to prevent future pandemics

How can we prevent future outbreaks like coronavirus?

A new UN report links continued destruction of the environment to a steady stream of diseases that can be passed on from animals to humans. Neglecting nature could have serious consequences for our health and economies.

We spoke to one of the report's authors, Professor Delia Grace.

The report identified several drivers of the increase in diseases passed from animals to humans. The most important, according to Grace, was the "increased demand for animal-sourced protein, which was resulting in very large increases in populations of farmed animals, both wild and domestic".

She also points to environmental degradation and fragmentation. Part of this was due to population growth and more land is then used for farming. There are also additional uses of the environment, such as extractive industries, logging, mining, "a much greater interaction between people and wildlife, in ways that are both stressing to the environment, the wildlife and often to the people involved in these trades".

Professor Grace says that authorities are treating the symptoms of the pandemic but not the underlying causes, such as how humans interact with the animals they keep, wildlife and the environment.

She says that current systems are not functioning and there are more safe ways to protect ecosystems.

"For example, maintaining areas where there is minimal contact between people and wildlife, ensuring that there’s adequate biodiversity because when you have a lot of different animals in a natural environment they tend to dilute pathogens...and managing our farming systems in ways in which we have perhaps fewer animals, that are productive and they don’t come into so much contact with wildlife, those are some of the ways we would de-risk systems."

One key message from the report to protect against future outbreaks was about "One Health", meaning medical health, animal health and the environment work together to reduce the risk in the food chain.

"Obviously we’re in a crisis, so we have to respond to the crisis," says Grace, "it’s very sensible to invest in disease control, vaccines and diagnostics, but these pandemics have been coming more and more frequently since we’ve been measuring them and unless we change the way we interact with farming and the environment, they will continue to come."