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CO2 levels rise despite lockdown, Asia’s water crisis and other global 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 67,04,014 cases and more than 3,93,233 deaths. 

Regardless of lockdowns across the world, carbon dioxide levels in atmosphere reached a new high in the month of May. “Wash your hands” advice highlights Asia’s acute water crisis. Meanwhile, coronavirus is now spreading to previously unaffected areas. The pandemic has also affected Saudi women’s quest for financial independence.

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

Despite lockdown, CO2 levels in atmosphere hit new highs 

Regardless of several key global economies enforcing lockdowns to deal with the pandemic, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere hit a record high in the month of May, reports the Financial Times.

“Atmospheric carbon dioxide reached more than 417 parts per million on average during May at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, suggesting that even though lockdowns around the world have caused emissions to drop temporarily, warming trends are set to continue. The new record, based on separate measurements taken by US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, is the highest level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere for millions of years,” notes the report. 

“The crisis has slowed emissions, but not enough to show up perceptibly at Mauna Loa. What will matter much more is the trajectory we take coming out of this situation,” professor Ralph Keeling of Scripps Institution told FT.

Also read: Covid has shown US is underprepared for major health threats, says national health agency

Coronavirus now spreading to previously unaffected regions

As the coronavirus curve begins to flatten in Europe and the US, the virus is now spreading to previously unaffected regions in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia, reports the New York Times. 

“For months, one enduring mystery of the coronavirus was why some of the world’s most populous countries, with rickety health systems and crowded slums, had managed to avoid the brunt of an outbreak that was burning through relatively affluent societies in Europe and the United States,” says the report. 

Now this trend has begun to be reversed.

“Globally, known cases of the virus are growing faster than ever with more than 100,000 new ones a day. The surge is concentrated in densely populated, low- and middle-income countries across the Middle East, Latin America, Africa and South Asia,” notes the report.

“Not only has it filled hospitals and cemeteries there, it has frustrated the hopes of leaders who thought they were doing everything right, or who believed they might somehow escape the pandemic’s worst ravages,” it adds.

Coronavirus advice highlights Asia’s acute water crisis

“Wash your hands” has been the most common health advice across the world since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. But this rather simple advice is impractical for nearly 2.4 billion people who reside in water scarce areas, argues an opinion piece in the Nikkei Asian Review. 

This problem becomes all the more acute in Asia, where 29 out of 49 countries are water insecure, “meaning they do not have access to safe, reliable, available water to meet their health and economic needs”.

“In South Asia alone, the majority of water sources are contaminated and 558 million people practice open defecation due to insufficient water and sanitation solutions,” notes the piece.

Also read: ‘How’s it going’: Goldman Sachs executive’s email calling for racial equality goes viral

As most of Latin America look to reopen, deaths surge in Mexico and Brazil

On Thursday, Brazil exceeded the number of coronavirus deaths in Italy, and Mexico recorded its highest number of daily deaths, reports Reuters. Meanwhile, other Latin American regional leaders are pushing to end lockdowns and restart economic activity. 

“Brazil posted a record number of daily deaths for third consecutive day on Thursday, with 1,437 deaths over the last 24 hours and 30,925 additional coronavirus cases, according to data released by the health ministry. Total deaths in South America’s largest nation now stand at 34,021, trailing only the United States and the United Kingdom,” notes the report.

“Meanwhile, Mexico reported 816 deaths on Thursday, the second consecutive daily record there, while total deaths surpassed 12,000,” it adds.

Coronavirus raises risks to Saudi women’s push for financial independence

Saudi Arabia facilitated some minor freedoms for the country’s women over the past few years. Now as the coronavirus pandemic takes a toll on the economy, some of these women are struggling to retain their new found financial independence, notes a special report in the Reuters. 

“Women in the United States and Europe have taken an outsized hit from the wave of unemployment caused by the coronavirus, but for women in Saudi Arabia the downturn is particularly damaging because it struck just as their efforts to enter the workforce and gain greater financial independence were gaining traction,” says the report.

Most of these women had found employment in non-religious tourism and entertainment sectors, but these have been badly hit by the pandemic. 

“Women make up about 83% of the jobless, according to the Saudi statistics office. And it’s an educated group; 70% of those women have high school diplomas or university degrees. And many were counting on the new sectors such as tourism to provide their entry to the workforce,” adds the report.

Also read: Hong Kong’s protest movement is running out of cash

South Africa sees highest jump in cases since the pandemic hit

For a while, the South African government patted its back for successfully evading the pandemic, but that changed Thursday, when the country recorded 3,267 new cases – an 80 per cent jump from its previous daily record, reports The Guardian. 

“Nearly two thirds of the country’s cases are in the Western Cape province, where Cape Town is the biggest city, and health services are under pressure. The region is also a major tourist destination, and local authorities have implemented one of the most rigorous testing regimes in the country,” says the report.

“Africa’s three biggest economies – Nigeria, Egypt and South Africa – have similar “doubling rates” – the number of days in which their infection numbers double – according to Our World In Data,” it added. 

How a Spanish town became one of Europe’s worst hotspots

A new long read by The Guardian looks at the northern Spanish region of La Rioja, where a medieval town suffered one of the worst outbreaks across Europe, and how that has poisoned people’s relations with each other in a tightly knit community. 

“If Covid-19 increases tensions among neighbours in big cities, it can produce poisonous outbreaks of mistrust in small, more insular places like Santo Domingo,” says the report.

What else we are reading: 

NBA: Disney World Resort set to host rest of 2020 season: BBC

Two girls’ lockdown learning underlines South Africa’s educational divide: Reuters

Hysteresis means we will have scars after Covid-19: The Financial Times

Is coronavirus changing the world of cleaning?: BBC

Also read: Sydney’s open for business again. So where is everybody?


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