New Delhi: The novel coronavirus pandemic continues to devastate several countries across the world — the latest count is more than 13 million cases and more than 5.71 lakh deaths.
Long delays in testing results are stifling the US’ response to the pandemic. The UK prime minister is set to announce the phasing out of Huawei from the country’s 5G networks following pressure from the US and Conservative Party members. Meanwhile, Covid is leading to a food crisis in Lebanon, and the World Health Organization has struggled to play its role during the pandemic.
ThePrint brings you the most important global stories on the coronavirus pandemic and why they matter.
Fauci sidelined by White House as he ‘blunt talks’ on pandemic
Since the pandemic struck the United States, Dr Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious diseases expert, has been an important voice in determining its response to the virus. Now as the government ignores advice by scientists and experts, and Fauci has publicly condemned this in several TV appearances, the White House is beginning to sideline him, reports the Washington Post.
“In recent days, the 79-year-old scientist and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has found himself directly in the president’s crosshairs. During a Fox News interview Thursday with Sean Hannity, Trump said Fauci ‘is a nice man, but he’s made a lot of mistakes’,” notes the report.
Fauci is no longer in the Oval office and had last interacted with Trump in the first week of June. But Trump cannot fire Fauci, who is a career civil servant, and is backed by bipartisan support of Congress.
“For Fauci himself, although he is frustrated by the turmoil and the state of the outbreak; friends say he has no plans to abandon his post,” adds the report.
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Long delays in getting test results hobble US’ response
According to experts, the results for Covid-19 tests are taking so long to come back in the US that they are basically rendered meaningless in the fight against the pandemic, reports the Washington Post. The US has now crossed 3.3 million cases, and states such as Florida — with more than 15,000 cases — are now registering a record surge.
“Some testing sites are struggling to provide results in five to seven days. Others are taking even longer. Outbreaks across the Sun Belt have strained labs beyond capacity. That rising demand, in turn, has caused shortages of swabs, chemical reagents and equipment as far away as New York,” says the report.
“The long testing turnaround times are making it impossible for the United States to replicate the central strategy used by other countries to effectively contain the virus — test, trace and isolate. Like catching any killer, speed is of the essence when it comes to the coronavirus,” it adds.
China’s handling of coronavirus leads to Huawei ban in UK
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to unveil his government’s plan to phase out Huawei out of the country’s 5G networks following intense pressure from the US government and his own Conservative Party members, reports the Financial Times.
This comes after the UK government had defied the US and given Huawei a partial foothold in the country’s 5G market. The Chinese giant is expected to be phased out of the UK over the next few months.
The UK was especially forced to change its position after the US put sanctions on “Huawei that aim to cut it off from access to semiconductors made with US equipment.” Additionally, many of Johnson’s Tory party members have asked the government to consider a fundamental reconfiguration of ties with China after the UK was devastated by the virus that originated in China, says the report.
Bartering child’s dress for food: Life in Lebanon’s economic crisis
The pandemic led Lebanon’s currency to an unprecedented collapse, and in an economy where people depend on imports for food, it is devastating people’s lives, reports the New York Times. The situation is all the more grim given that the country’s economy had been in the doldrums long before the pandemic the world.
“The effects of the economic meltdown are increasingly infiltrating the daily lives of many Lebanese. Power cuts darken streets, banks refuse to hand over depositors’ cash and families struggle to buy imported essentials like diapers and laundry detergent,” notes the report.
“The government has long failed to provide sufficient electricity. But blackouts have grown so long that the din of traffic in Beirut, where about one-third of Lebanon’s 5.4 million people live, has been replaced by the roar of overworked generators,” it adds.
Thousands protest in Israel over handling of economy
Thousands in Israel’s Tel Aviv came out to protest the government’s mishandling of the pandemic and its economic fallout, reports the BBC.
“Rabin Square was filled with mainly young protesters wearing masks but not observing social distancing. They say government compensation payments have been slow to arrive. The event was organised by small businesses, self-employed workers and performing artists’ groups,” said the report.
Many of those protesting are facing severe economic hardship and say the anti-pandemic measures have taken their livelihoods away. “While workers on salaries received unemployment benefits via a furlough scheme, the self-employed say most of them have been waiting months for promised government aid,” adds the report.
Israel is currently suffering from a second wave of the novel coronavirus and has more than 38,000 cases and 362 deaths.
South Africa bans alcohol sales again to combat Covid-19
South Africa has responded to a record spike in the number of Covid-19 cases by yet again banning alcohol sales among other things, reports the BBC. “A night-time curfew has been imposed, and the wearing of masks outdoors is now compulsory. President Cyril Ramaphosa said the alcohol ban — South Africa’s second this year — would take pressure off the national healthcare system,” the report states.
“It comes as total infections exceed a quarter of a million. Deaths resulting from coronavirus have also risen to more than 4,000, and government projections estimate this could rise to 50,000 by the end of the year,” it notes.
South Africa is the worst-hit African country, and a large number of its cases are coming from the Gauteng province, which has emerged as the new epicentre.
In tackling coronavirus, Scotland asserts its separateness from England
For centuries, Scotland has tried to assert its identity as different from England, but it is the response to the pandemic that has made that difference all the more obvious, reports the New York Times.
“There was nothing particularly festive about Nicola Sturgeon’s (Scotland’s leader) recent visit to the Cold Town House, a newly reopened Edinburgh pub, but maybe that was the point,” remarks the report.
“As Scotland emerges from a three-month lockdown, it is moving more carefully than neighbouring England, a divergence that owes a lot to Ms Sturgeon’s cautious style and her conviction that England, under its more freewheeling leader, Boris Johnson, is taking too many risks in a headlong rush to resume public life,” it adds.
WHO struggles to prove itself
The US’ withdrawal from the World Health Organization (WHO) has laid bare the global body’s failure to effectively step up its responsibility in the face the gravest pandemic of the last century, reports the Financial Times.
“A health guardian created from the devastation of war and disease has become hobbled by political power plays, battles over science and unstable funding — all of them exacerbated by the urgency of the Covid-19 crisis,” remarks the report.
Critics argue that the WHO is in urgent need of reform as it has no power to enforce any rules or investigate disease outbreaks in countries, and its procedures have become “too ponderous,” the report notes.
What else we are reading:
Florida records nation’s one-day peak for new virus cases: New York Times
Fracking firms fail, rewarding executives and raising climate fears: New York Times
Entertainers promised to see us through the quarantine. Even they are running out of steam: Washington Post
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