Ebola virus
A healthcare worker assists a colleague to dress in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at an Ebola Treatment Center in Coyah, Guinea. (Representational Image) | Photo: Waldo Swiegers | Bloomberg
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New Delhi: The novel coronavirus pandemic continues to devastate the planet— at last count, countries across the world had recorded 6,383,825 cases and 377,789 deaths.

Already dealing with the twin outbreaks of coronavirus and measles, the Democratic Republic of Congo has now been hit by Ebola. Meanwhile, a look at how the pandemic worsened an existing bad situation in Venezuela. And as international travel gradually restarts, there is no consensus on quarantine rules, while Bangkok’s hotels are now selling luxury quarantine to revive the country’s tourism sector.

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

Amid Covid & measles, Congo now hit by Ebola

The Democratic Republic of Congo, which had already been grappling with the twin coronavirus and measles outbreaks, just declared a fresh Ebola outbreak, reports the New York Times.

“Less than two months ago, Congo was about to declare an official end to an Ebola epidemic on the eastern side of the country that had lasted nearly two years and killed more than 2,275 people. Then, with just two days to go, a new case was found, and the outbreak could not be declared over,” notes the report.

“Congo has reported 3,049 cases of coronavirus, including 71 deaths, but testing is limited, so it is impossible to know the true scale of the outbreak. More than 350,000 people have been infected with measles in the country since January 2019, and over 6,500 have died,” the report added.

Hunger, infection & repression: Venezuela’s coronavirus calamity

The Covid-19 pandemic is exacerbating the daily struggles of people in Venezuela, reports the New Yorker.

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President Nicolas Maduro’s regime is using the pandemic to further crackdown on civic rights, with journalists and experts being detained for exposing the facts about the scale of the spread in the country, and economic sanctions amid a flailing economy continue to make life extremely hard for the average citizen.

“The country’s health-care system is in disarray after years of mismanagement and corruption. The regime has not published periodic health statistics in years, and one of the few international organizations with knowledge of the situation is the World Health Organization,” notes the report.

While the official number of cases in the country is 1,662, according to a report released by the Academy of Physical, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences, the government is underreporting cases and by early June, there could be as many as 1,000 to 4,000 cases a day.


Also read: US protests raise infection fears, Bangladesh’s textile industry woes & other Covid news


Will the protests lead to another coronavirus wave?

As protests over George Floyd’s death at the hands of police spread across the U.S., public health experts, scientists and government officials are worried about a fresh Covid wave as they suspect not enough protestors are abiding by social distancing norms, reports the New York Times.

The US has already seen more than 1 lakh coronavirus deaths, and people of colour, including African Americans, have been hit hard.

While some infectious disease experts found solace in most protestors being young and the demonstrations being held in open, many are worried about the absence of face masks despite being in close proximity to each other.

“The biggest concern is the one that has bedeviled infectious disease experts since the pandemic began, and it’s the coronavirus’s secret weapon: that it can be transmitted by people who don’t display any symptoms and feel healthy enough to participate in protests,” notes the report.

The new era of quarantine: A muddled set of travel rules

As countries gradually begin to reopen international travel, a muddled set of travel rules is emerging, with barely any consistency between the countries, reports the Financial Times.

“With little obvious debate and consultation, or even agreement among scientists about when to apply it, governments around the world have decided that isolating arrivals from other countries is an essential response to coronavirus — and, in some cases, could remain so for quite some time,” notes the report.

But there is no consensus among countries how long the quarantine period should be. “Quarantine in Myanmar has meant up to 21 days of confinement for some arrivals. Samoa has required 14 days of isolation before you arrive and 14 after you get there. Some countries put you in a hotel; others let you go home. Some require a test for Covid-19 before arrival, others once you get there,” it further stated.

In mid-Pacific with nowhere to land

A group of performers were on a 75-ft sailing boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean when the coronavirus pandemic struck, and as one country after the other closed its borders, the performers have been left with no place to go, reports the BBC.

“Now, three weeks later, fresh food is running low, but there is enough dry food to last a couple of months. Fresh water is not a problem thanks to solar-powered desalination equipment on the vessel. They are growing a few spindly lettuces on board as an experiment and catching fish with home-made lines and lures,” explains the report.

“They are going slowly, intentionally, aiming to reach Indonesian waters in early July, hoping that by then they will be allowed to enter,” it adds.


Also read: How Ethiopia is beating virus without lockdown, Twitter fact-checks Trump & other Covid news


Canada’s Nunavut: A vast territory with few people — and no coronavirus

As Covid-19 spreads across the world, Canada’s northern province of Nunavut is the only remaining state-level jurisdiction in North America to have still not recorded a single case, reports the Washington Post.

“The territory’s remoteness — its 25 hamlets and capital of Iqaluit are connected to one another and the rest of Canada only by air — might help reduce the risk of the virus arriving. But it also makes it one of the most vulnerable places in Canada were the virus to spread,” states the Post.

“Nunavut’s one hospital, in Iqaluit, has 35 beds. Most Nunavummiut leave the territory for medical attention, from chemotherapy to diagnostic imaging to childbirth. There are no intensive care beds, and only a dozen ventilators,” it adds.

In 2019, the province had recorded a population of a little more than 38,000.

Bangkok hotels lure wealthy travellers with luxurious lockdown

The battered Thai tourism industry is trying to resurrect itself by selling luxury quarantine packages to passengers arriving from overseas, reports the Financial Times. The government has allowed five hotels in and around Bangkok to provide these services.

“Mövenpick BDMS Wellness Resort Bangkok, operated by the Swiss hotel chain and owned by one of Thailand’s largest hospital groups, is offering a five-star, Bt58,000 ($1,832) “Homecoming Health Watch” package. It includes airport transfers, full-board for 15 nights and outdoor walks in the hotel garden,” notes the report.


Also read: Boris Johnson’s 20% drop in approval ratings, Wuhan’s testing miracle and other Covid news


Asia’s fishermen and farmers go digital during virus

E-commerce is helping farmers and fisherman at a time when conventional markets across Asia have been badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, reports the BBC.

“Businesses in every industry and sector, including those in agriculture, are pivoting online to capture the new opportunities arising from changing consumer preferences,” Pierre Poignant, chief executive at Lazada told the BBC.

What else we are reading:

Asia’s factories are feeling more pain despite recovery in China: Al Jazeera

Coronavirus-torn Asia looks to reconnect with ‘travel bubbles’: Nikkei Asian Review

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