New Delhi: The novel coronavirus pandemic continues to devastate countries across the world — the latest count is more than 16.4 million cases and more than 6.52 lakh deaths.
The pandemic has increased the education gap between rich and poor countries and Colombian armed groups are using the pandemic to expand their control. In the UK, libertarians are obsessed with not wearing masks and how Japanese restaurants are reinventing to work through the pandemic
ThePrint brings you the most important global stories on the coronavirus pandemic and why they matter.
Covid-19 expands the rich-poor education gap
The coronavirus pandemic has forced more than 100 countries to temporarily shut down their schools, which has exacerbated the education gap between rich and poor countries, as only the former can afford the shift to online learning, reports the Nikkei Asian Review.
“According to UNESCO, only 49, or 23%, of 210 countries or regions were able to completely reopen pre-elementary to high school education as of July 18. Fifty-four countries and regions, including the U.S., U.K., Germany and China, have partially reopened schools,” notes the report.
But in the remaining 51 per cent — mostly poor countries — continue to remain completely shut. “Roughly 1.07 billion children live in these areas, accounting for more than 60% of the children in the world,” adds the report.
US’ global position was shaky, pandemic made it worse
Under President Donald Trump, the US, which was once considered the globe’s indispensable nation, is now finding its global standing a low ebb, reports The Washington Post. And the pandemic has made this situation worse.
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“At home, Trump’s handling of the pandemic has created division and confusion rather than an effective national strategy. The rest of the world sees the United States not as a leader in dealing with the coronavirus but as the country with the highest number of coronavirus infections and covid-19 deaths, and with the disease far from under control,” notes the report.
From abroad, the US is seen to have lost confidence in itself. “The perceived loss of confidence among Americans in turn has led others to question the United States’ appetite or capacity for a collaborative leadership role at a time when the health and economic crises call out for committed global cooperation,” the report explains.
Pandemic is wreaking havoc in the Amazon region
The Amazon River is South America’s key life source — cutting across the region — and its various tributaries sustain more than 30 million people across eight countries. Now, as the coronavirus pandemic has swept through Brazil — where the largest part of the river flows — it has not spared the Amazon region, reports the New York Times.
“In Brazil, the six cities with the highest coronavirus exposure are all on the Amazon River, according to an expansive new study from Brazilian researchers that measured antibodies in the population,” remarks the report.
“Cities and towns along the river have some of the highest deaths per capita in the country — often several times the national average. In Manaus, there were periods when every Covid ward was full and 100 people were dying a day, pushing the city to cut new burial grounds out of thick forest. Grave diggers lay rows of coffins in long trenches carved in the freshly turned earth,” it adds.
Colombian guerrillas using pandemic to expand control
Colombian armed groups are using the pandemic in the country to expand their control and often target people who don’t abide by the lockdown rules, reports The Washington Post.
According to Columbian human rights groups, community leaders, and government officials claim that “leftist guerrillas, right-wing paramilitaries and drug cartels are using the outbreak to consolidate control over parts of a country still reeling from the aftermath of five decades of armed conflict”, says the report.
“While the government of President Iván Duque is focusing on a worsening coronavirus outbreak — the country has reported more than 204,000 infections and nearly 7,000 deaths — the draconian measures imposed by armed groups are serving at least two purposes: to expand control over roads and communities central to narcotrafficking and illegal mining, and to reinforce their standing as the absolute rulers of their territories,” adds the report.
‘UK’s foolish Libertarian insistence on not wearing a mask’
The UK has a problem, namely that a sizeable number of its citizens isn’t wearing masks, but this problem is being compounded by Libertarians and their fight against “mask authoritarianism”, argues Financial Times’ Henry Mance.
“Online libertarians urge us to fight this creeping authoritarianism — bemoaning “face mask hell”, “the problem with mandatory face masks” and “the misguided mission to mask us all,” he writes.
But now masks have been mandatory in the UK, and a poll showed 86 per cent public said that it was important to wear a mask when shopping.
European countries curb travel as infections surge
Following a series of local coronavirus outbreaks, many European countries have gone ahead and implemented new curbs on travel, in a fresh blow to the tourism industry, reports the Financial Times.
For instance, a flurry of fresh cases in Spain prompted both British and French leadership to publicly advise its citizens against travelling to Spain.
“The latest uptick in cases in Europe appears to have coincided with the start of the summer tourist season. The surge highlights the dilemma facing policymakers: on one hand they fear reimposing a shutdown that has devastated their economies, but on the other they worry the return of mass travel will trigger a second wave of the pandemic,” says the report.
Chinese authorities to test 6 million residents in Dalian
As China’s northeastern city of Dalian is in the grips of a Covid outbreak — after 12 confirmed cases on Sunday and 14 asymptomatic ones a day before — health officials have announced they will test all of the city’s six million residents, reports the South China Morning Post.
“Ma Xiaowei, director of the National Health Commission, led a team to Dalian on Friday night to guide the containment measures. As of Saturday, the contagion link from the city’s cluster had extended to seven other cities in four provinces, mostly asymptomatic case,” notes the report.
“China reported 35 local infections cases on Saturday, 22 in the northwest region of Xinjiang, which reported cluster infections earlier this month, and 13 in Liaoning province — 12 of which were in Dalian,” it adds.
Japan’s eateries are reinventing food to survive during the pandemic
Given the coronavirus outbreak, demand for takeout food is rising, forcing Japanese restaurants and eateries to reinvent some of their food and packaging to become more takeout-friendly, reports the Nikkei Asian Review.
For instance, people are struggling to order ramen as the broth tends to spillover. “But Kura Sushi, a leading revolving sushi bar chain operator, has found a solution. It has developed a gelatinous broth that turns into a liquid when warmed up in a microwave,” says the report. And Kura Sushi is not the only one, as many others have come up similar ways to deliver ramen and noodle soup.
“With an end to the Covid-19 pandemic nowhere in sight, expansion of takeaway services has become crucial for restaurant operators, as has the creation of innovative menus, said one industry observer,” adds the report.
What else we are reading:
The return of the American drive-in: Financial Times
Malaysia’s best-known commodity is powering fortunes of Top Glove tycoon: South China Morning Post
Why Covid-19 Is Winning: New York Times Magazine
Covid-19 reawakens Europe’s sleeper trains: The Guardian
For French-Algerian Families, Virus Disrupts Cherished Summer Ritual: New York Times
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