Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. | Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. | Photo: Wikimedia Commons
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New Delhi: The novel coronavirus pandemic continues to devastate countries across the world — the latest count is more than 18 million cases and more than 6.97 lakh deaths.

The pandemic finally seems to be slowing down in southern and western parts of the US, but Capitol Hill is seeing a number of cases. A Covid recount in Russia has raised questions on the overall numbers of the country. Meanwhile, a New Zealand couple has returned from Falkland Islands on a fishing boat.

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

Too many people on Capitol Hill are getting affected

Lawmakers are also essential workers and much like others, they should also take all precautions and start protecting themselves, advises an editorial by The New York Times. This comes after a number of US lawmakers have been infected with the coronavirus.

“At least 14 lawmakers, hailing from both parties and both chambers, are known to have either tested or been presumed positive for the coronavirus,” notes the report. In addition to lawmakers and their aides, another 90 workers in “supporting roles” have also been infected.

The editorial argues that while many lawmakers are taking precautions, others are not. “Some are ignoring public health advice for political reasons, while others seem to believe the virus cannot touch them. This sort of denial leads to unnecessary tragedy, as was driven home by the death of Herman Cain,” it adds.

Pandemic slows down in US’ south and west

In a major relief for US health authorities, the pandemic is showing signs of slowing down in the country’s south and west regions, reports the Financial Times.

“Florida — one of the populous US states in the sunbelt region where the virus has surged in recent weeks — reported fewer than 5,000 infections on Monday, the lowest increase since June, and 73 fatalities,” notes the report.

“Other states in the south and west where the disease had been surging earlier this summer continued to show signs of slowing. California, which became the first state to register more than 500,000 cases, reported 5,739 infections on Monday, the smallest increase since early July. Texas had 5,839 cases in the past 24 hours,” it adds.

The US has recorded over 4.8 million cases and 158,000 deaths.

Also read: US lawmakers are keen to break up big tech like Amazon, Google and Facebook. It’s not smart

Recount in Dagestan raises questions on Russia’s numbers

Back in April, the official number of coronavirus cases and deaths in Russia’s Dagestan region was not squaring up with the number of funerals. Eventually, a recount has revealed the number to be much higher than previously reported, raising questions about the overall number of infections across the country, reports The Washington Post.

“Dagestan became a point of reference for questions on the overall tallies in Russia, which reports the world’s fourth-largest number of confirmed cases but a mortality rate that is about a fifth that of U.S. per capita figures, according to Johns Hopkins University data,” says the report.

“For the Kremlin, its claims of a low death rate are hailed as a tribute to Russia’s medical system and the leadership of President Vladimir Putin. Any attempts to challenge that narrative — such as whether coronavirus cases and deaths are often misclassified — are quickly slapped down by Putin’s government,” it adds.

Russia’s murky race for a vaccine

Russian authorities claim to have marched ahead of other countries in search for a vaccine, and are now saying they will start production next month and begin “mass immunisation” by October, reports The Guardian.

“The announcement came amid controversy over how Russia has rushed its two vaccine candidates through safety testing, in which researchers dosed themselves as part of truncated human trials,” says the report. “Some experts, including those at the World Health Organization (WHO), have cautioned that any vaccine that emerges may not be the “magic bullet” that ends the pandemic.”

Experts fear that Russian trials might be skipping the third phase of the testing. Thus, they “might not only fail to pick up rare side effects but — due to a perception of their having been rushed into service — might not be taken up in sufficient numbers,” according to Natalie Dean of University of Florida.

Lebanon’s crisis deepens

Lebanon’s crisis has been further exacerbated by the resignation of its foreign minister Nassif Hitti, who has warned that the country is now “slipping into becoming a failed state”, reports the Financial Times. He is the first member to resign from Prime Minister Hassan Diab’s cabinet, which was appointed in January after the previous administration was toppled by protests.

“Since the October protests exacerbated the slow-burning economic crisis, the local currency has lost about 80 per cent of its value compared with the official rate pegged to the dollar, stoking runaway inflation in the import-dependent nation. And this year, coronavirus lockdowns have heaped pressure on already struggling businesses and wiped out thousands more jobs, while rolling electrical blackouts have added to a mounting sense of chaos,” notes the report.

Also read: In the race to securing Covid vaccine supplies, rich countries are first in line

China’s surging factory output hides real economic risks

China has been one of the most resilient countries in terms of shielding its economy from the pandemic, and the biggest sign of that is the country’s robust factory activity. But official data and the job market in China are telling a different story, reports the Nikkei Asian Review.

“The Caixin/Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index jumped 1.6 points to 52.8 in July, a high not seen since January 2011. The PMI has climbed for three consecutive months, thanks to substantial improvements to production and new orders,” says the report.

Meanwhile, for the same period in July, the government’s PMI jumped only 0.2 points to 51.1. And for small and medium enterprises, it dropped 0.3 points, falling to 48.6.

“The discrepancy in private- and public-sector PMIs likely stems partly from the differences in the indexes’ samples. The government’s PMI covers 3,000 businesses — leaning toward state-owned enterprises — while private PMIs survey only around 500 enterprises. Private PMI figures have fluctuated sharply in the past,” adds the report.

Stranded New Zealand couple returns on fishing boat

A New Zealand couple, stranded during their honeymoon on the Falkland Islands due to the pandemic, has now managed to return home after travelling more than “5,000 nautical miles (9,200 km) on an Antarctic fishing boat”, reports the South China Morning Post.

“Feeonaa Clifton said she had never spent even a single night on a boat before she and her husband Neville embarked on the month-long voyage through some of the world’s most forbidding seas. After weeks spent watching albatrosses and learning how to don survival suits, they were finally able to set foot on land again on Tuesday,” notes the report.

What else we are reading:

Trump calls Birx’s dire warning on widespread coronavirus in the US ‘pathetic’: The Guardian

‘I Am Scared’: Italian sex workers face poverty and illness in the pandemic: The New York Times

The mask slackers of 1918: The New York Times

Ultimate post-pandemic escapes: eight Asian private resorts for group holidays: South China Morning Post

Also read: UK, Germany and now Chile is training dogs to sniff out coronavirus


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