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Bolivian President tests positive, Italian mafia profits from pandemic & other Covid news

As the Covid-19 pandemic shows no signs of letting up, ThePrint highlights the most important stories on the crisis from across the globe.

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New Delhi: The novel coronavirus pandemic continues to devastate several countries across the world — the latest count is over 1.23 crore cases and more than 5.5 lakh deaths.

A record number of cases were reported in South Africa, Mexico, and US Thursday. Two more Latin American leaders tested positive for the novel coronavirus. There are increasing fears of an outbreak in Syria’s Idlib province, and why millennials might be most severely hit from the pandemic.

ThePrint brings you the most important global stories on the coronavirus pandemic and why they matter.

South Africa, Mexico and US see record rise in daily cases

South Africa, Mexico, and the US registered their highest ever single day rise in coronavirus cases Thursday, reports the Al Jazeera.

South Africa recorded 13,674 infections, taking the total tally to 2,38,339. Meanwhile, Mexico saw 7,280 new infections taking the country’s total number of infections to 2,82,283.

However, the situation is extremely grim in the US. “More than 59,460 new cases were announced across the United States on Thursday, setting a single-day record for the sixth time in 10 days,” according to The New York Times database.

“The surge has been driven largely by states in the South and the West that were among the first to ease restrictions established during the virus’s initial wave in the spring. At least six states set single-day case records on Thursday: Alabama, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Oregon and Texas,” notes the report.

Also read: US sanctions top Chinese officials over abuse of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang

Bolivian president and Venezuela’s socialist party leader test positive

After Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, two other Latin American politicians — Bolivian President Jeanine Añez and Venezuela’s socialist party leader Diosdado Cabello — have tested positive for Covid-19, reports The Guardian.

“Diosdado Cabello, Venezuela’s number two official and the leader of the Socialist party, announced his diagnosis on social media on Thursday evening and said he was in self-isolation. ‘We will prevail!!’ tweeted the influential Chavista,” says the report.

Meanwhile, in Bolivia, the controversial interim Right-wing president Añez also tested positive. Añez had become the interim president after former president Evo Morales was forced into exile, but since then, she has tightened her grip over power and has delayed the election to continue staying in power.

Singapore holds an election amidst a pandemic

Singapore, one of the worst pandemic-hit countries across Southeast Asia, is currently holding one of the most vital elections in country’s independent history, reports the Straits Times.

“Hand sanitisers and disposable gloves are in place at every polling station as more than 2.65 million voters head to the ballot box today to round off Singapore’s remarkable Covid-19 election campaign by picking the 93 members of Singapore’s 14th Parliament,” explains the report.

“The number of polling stations has been bumped up from 880 to 1,100 for this election, to minimise crowding and exposure to others who may be unwell,” it adds.

While the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) — which has ruled the country since 1965 — is expected to win the election, the results might shed light on the future leadership of the this key party.

Also read: Record spikes in Hong Kong, Tokyo feed fears of second wave of Covid in Asia

Idlib’s first Covid-19 case raises fears for Syria camps

Idlib, a chiefly rebel-held province in Syria, has reported its first coronavirus case, raising fears of the pandemic devastating the crowded refugee camps in the regions, reports the BBC.

“A doctor contracted the virus at a hospital in a town in Idlib near the Turkish border, aid groups said. They said the doctor was self-isolating and his contacts were being traced,” notes the report.

After the Syrian government launched an offensive to retake Idlib from the rebel forces, nearly a million people left their homes and currently live in crowded refugee camps.

“For months aid groups have issued stark warnings about the risks of a coronavirus outbreak in north-western Syria,” adds the report.

Trump sidelines his top public health team

The rift between US President Donald Trump and his key federal health officials has now entered the public domain after a letter highlighting the growing animosity was leaked, reports the Washington Post.

“The June 28 email to the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was ominous: A senior adviser to a top Health and Human Services Department official accused the CDC of ‘undermining the President’ by putting out a report about the potential risks of the coronavirus to pregnant women,” says the report.

“As the country enters a frightening phase of the pandemic with new daily cases surpassing 57,000 on Thursday, the CDC, the nation’s top public health agency, is coming under intense pressure from President Trump and his allies, who are downplaying the dangers in a bid to revive the economy ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election,” it adds.

Also read: China says US policy is driven by McCarthy-Style Paranoia

Mafia infiltrate Italy’s hospitals, launder profits on global scale

Italy’s notorious mafia has been using the pandemic to infiltrate the country’s hospital networks and to launder their profits across the world, reports the Financial Times.

“By corrupting local officials, organised criminals have been able to make vast profits from contracts given to their own front companies, establishing monopolies on services ranging from delivering patients in faulty ambulances to transporting blood to taking away the dead,” explains the report about the mafia’s modus operandi.

“All these services were billed to the Italian taxpayer through the country’s centrally funded yet regionally administered health service, which distributes an annual budget of billions of euros — an unrivalled prize for criminal gangs,” notes the report.

“An investigation by the Financial Times has established how the trail of money from these crimes washed into the financial centres of London and Milan,” it adds.

Scientists trying to find Covid drug catch the virus

Stephanie Giordano, a young researcher at the drug manufacturing company Regeneron, had helped develop one of the most promising treatments against the novel coronavirus, but soon she found herself in the midst of a hotspot, reports the New York Times.

The research was conducted in Westchester County, one of the hardest-hit areas of the country. In the county, more than 35,000 people have been infected and more than 1,500 people have died.

“She (Giordano) worked in the lab until 10 many nights and through weekends, screening thousands of antibodies — the weapons of the immune system that seek out and destroy viruses — in search of the most powerful ones. The result was a cocktail of two antibodies that might not only treat the virus, but prevent it by giving the body the same natural defenses that people infected with it produce on their own,” states the report.

The scientists are now awaiting the results of clinical trials to determine if the antibody treatment they developed successfully counters the coronavirus infection.

Also read: Trump threatens to cut school funds, ‘Santa Claus’ Sunak isn’t helping UK & other Covid news

Double blowout for millennials

long-read in the Financial Times looks at how the economic fallout from the global financial crisis coupled with that from the pandemic is going to spell doom for the millennials.

It has been over a decade since the global financial crisis in 2008 but the economic fallout of the crisis is still visible with millennials’ low wages and rampant underemployment across the West. Now the pandemic is set to make it worse.

“Few events have exposed such a sharp generational divide as the pandemic. Despite all the mysteries surrounding the virus, one of the few certainties is that people over 70 are much more vulnerable to Covid-19. Yet, amid the economic onslaught that coronavirus has wrought, it is those under 40 who have suffered the biggest economic blow,” says the report.

What else we are reading:

Covid-19 pandemic is stoking extremist flames worldwide, analysts warn: Washington Post

US weekly jobless claims of 1.3m show gradual improvement: Financial Times

Victoria records 165 new cases of Covid-19, with 30 linked to known outbreaks: The Guardian

How are other economies dealing with the downturn?: BBC

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