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India, China hit the most by US visa ban, second wave fear in South Korea & 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 90.3 lakh cases and more than 4.7 lakh deaths.

The US is experiencing a “disturbing surge” in new cases of Covid-19, according to the country’s top health official. India and China are the worst-hit by US President Trump’s H1B visa ban. Meanwhile, researchers are studying the impact of the coronavirus lockdown on wildlife and the importance of Singapore’s pandemic election.

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

US top health official Fauci warns of ‘disturbing’ new surge 

Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in US, has warned lawmakers that the country is experiencing a “disturbing surge” in new Covid-19 cases. The US registered its largest single day hike Tuesday with more than 32,900 new infections, reports the BBC.

Fauci, a leading member of White House’s coronavirus task force, has asked congressional leaders to increase testing in order to identify the new outbreaks.

This comes after US President Donald Trump, during a political rally in Oklahoma, remarked that he had asked his health officials to reduce testing. Responding to this, Fauci said, “To my knowledge, none of us have ever been told to slow down on testing. In fact we are doing more testing.”

Meanwhile, cases continue to climb rapidly across several US states. Seven of them recorded the highest number of hospitalisations since the pandemic started Tuesday, according to Washington Post. These states include Arizona, Arkansas, California, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. 

India, China most affected by US H1B visa ban 

Among the countries most affected by President Trump’s ban on the H1B visas, China and India top the list, reports Nikkei Asian Review.

Trump has banned the issuance of several work visas, including the H1B visa that was used by high-skilled migrants from India and China, in a proclamation signed Monday.

“More than 420,000 applied for the 85,000 available H-1B work visas in fiscal 2019, according to data from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Nearly three-quarters, or 74.5%, were born in India, followed by mainland China at 11.8%,” says the report.

“President Trump’s order to freeze a type of visa most often used by software engineers provoked dismay and disbelief in India, which has sent hundreds of thousands of professionals to work on technology projects in the United States,” it adds.

Singapore’s vital pandemic election

The dissolution of Singapore’s Parliament Tuesday will now be followed by a general election on 10 July, reports the Nikkei Asian Review.

“Analysts expect the ruling People’s Action Party to cruise to victory, taking most of the 93 seats up for grabs, in what is likely to be Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s final election as leader. No party has managed to wrest control from the PAP since Singapore became a sovereign state in 1965,” notes the report.

Yet, this election matters more because it will clarify the question of succession in the country’s politics.

“If the PAP indeed wins again, 68-year-old Prime Minister Lee is expected to hand the reins of power to a successor during the government’s next term. The heir apparent is Heng Swee Keat, the deputy prime minister and finance minister, who has filled in for Lee as acting prime minister in the past,” adds the report.

Germany looks at possible second wave risk after slaughterhouse outbreak

Germany’s reproduction number — the number of people one infected person can pass on the virus to — shot to its highest level, weeks after more than 1,300 workers tested positive for coronavirus at a slaughterhouse, reports the Financial Times.

This outbreak took place in Gütersloh, which is situated in the industrial belt of the country. Now with the fear of another wave of infections imminent, the entire region has been put under lockdown, acccording to Politico.

The report notes this lockdown “offers a laboratory for how Europe can manage new outbreaks of COVID-19”.

“At the moment it’s a local outbreak. But if the approach fails in Gütersloh and in other towns such as Göttingen, where a tower block is in quarantine, Germany will probably have a second wave,” said Ralf Reintjes, epidemiology professor at the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences.

At last count, Germany has over 1.9 lakh cases and more than 8,900 deaths.

South Korean authorities warn that second wave has already hit the capital 

South Korea has recently been hit by a number of imported Covid-19 cases, the latest being 16 new cases aboard a Russian cargo ship, reports Straits Times.

“Local cases also continued to grow, as health authorities warned a second wave of infections has already hit Seoul and greater Seoul — home to half of the country’s 50 million people,” says the report.

This comes after South Korea was being hailed as the ideal case when it comes to responding to the coronavirus pandemic. It reported 46 new cases Tuesday, out of which 30 were not local. Now, the country’s total number of infections is 12,484, and the death toll stands at 281.

“Seoul mayor Park Won-soon cited expert warnings that the number of daily cases could grow to 800 in a month’s time, given the high R-number (reproduction number) of 1.79,” adds the report.

Companies that lost the most during the pandemic 

A new report by the Financial Times looks at which companies have suffered the most during the pandemic, putting them into four categories.

The first are companies that could not bypass social distancing as gathering and queues are essential to their survival — airlines and bars are the biggest examples. The second include heavy industries that have suffered not only because of poor demand but also a supply shock. The third category includes energy companies which have been hit by a global demand decline.

And the last includes banks, asset managers, and life insurers. “Profits for all of these companies are sensitive to interest rates, which Covid-19 have sent plummeting,” notes the report.

Tracking wildlife before and after the lockdown 

A team of researchers are currently studying the impact of lockdown on wildlife, reports the BBC.

“Researchers have launched an initiative to track wildlife before, during and after the coronavirus lockdown. The UK-led team’s aim is to study what they have called the ‘anthropause’ – the global-scale, temporary slowdown in human activity, which is likely to have a profound impact on other species. Measuring that impact, they say, will reveal ways in which we can ‘share our increasingly crowded planet,’ notes the report.

“There is a really valuable research opportunity here, one that’s been brought about by the most tragic circumstances, but it’s one we think we can’t afford to miss,” Christian Rutz of University of St Andrews, who is heading this team told the BBC.

“Usually, studies which try to examine the impact of human presence and activity on wild animals are limited to comparing protected habitats to unprotected areas, or studying landscapes in the wake of a natural disaster,” states the report. However, the lockdowns have changed this.

What else we are reading:

The Death of Cosmopolitanism: The Atlantic

Bars, Strip Clubs and Churches: U.S. Virus Outbreaks Enter Unwieldy Phase: The New York Times 

Virtually no demand’ for coins in Covid-19 era as Australia’s shift from cash to digital hastens: The Guardian

Ballpark Peanuts, a Classic Summer Pleasure, Have Been Benched: The New York Times

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