New Delhi: The novel coronavirus pandemic continues to devastate several countries across the world with the global total now over 35,66,804 cases with more than 2,48,304 deaths.
There has been an alarming spike in cases in Russia while South Korea has been able to contain the spread without a lockdown. Elsewhere in the world, the lockdown in India has crippled the country’s buffalo meat exports, leading to shortage of supplies in several Muslim-populated countries during Ramadan.
ThePrint brings you the most important global stories on the coronavirus pandemic and why they matter.
Fears surge in Russia that outbreak worse than thought
Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin has warned that the scale of the Covid-19 outbreak in the city might be much worse than suggested by government’s data, the Financial Times is reporting.
“Sobyanin, Moscow’s mayor, said on Saturday that a survey using improved testing methods suggested 2 per cent of the capital’s citizens were infected with coronavirus, equal to more than 250,000 people, or four times the number of officially confirmed cases in the city,” noted the Financial Times report.
The following day, Russia saw its largest single-day spike — over 10,000 cases on Sunday — making it the seventh most affected country in the world. This was the largest single-day spike outside of the United States. Russia currently has over 1.3 lakh cases.
Russia seemed to have been bucking the pandemic through February and March when most European states were being engulfed by it. But over the past six weeks, the virus has rapidly spread across the expansive nation.
India’s lockdown leads to buffalo meat shortage during Ramadan
The lockdown imposed in India due to the coronavirus pandemic has led to a fall in India’s buffalo meat exports, which is now leading to shortage of supplies for several Muslim-populated countries during the time of Ramadan, the Globe and Mail is reporting.
“India typically sells more than 100,000 tonnes of buffalo meat every month, but in March exports dropped to around 40,000 tonnes, according to two exporters,” the report said.
“Sales are likely to have been even lower in April as widespread lockdowns took effect, and even in May are expected to remain well below normal despite some parts of the Indian economy re-opening,” it further added.
Countries like Malaysia, who rely on India for nearly 70 per cent of their beef demands, are now feeling the absence of those supplies.
Boris: They had contingency plans if I didn’t make it
In a highly candid interview to the tabloid The Sun, UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a series of revelations about his Covid-19 infection and contingency plans in case he failed it to make it after being hospitalised. Johnson had been hospitalised for two weeks and was kept in intensive care for three nights last month.
“It was a tough old moment, I won’t deny it. They had a strategy to deal with a ‘death of Stalin’-type scenario,” he said. “I was not in a particularly brilliant shape…”
He also revealed that the doctors were giving him “litres and litres” of oxygen.
Towards the end of the interview, Johnson expressed his gratitude towards the nursing department at the Saint Thomas’ Hospital in London and said that it was responsible for his survival.
Germans split over lifting of lockdown
As Germany is emerging relatively successfully in its fight against the coronavirus pandemic — the country has over 1.6 Lakh cases but the rate of growth has severely gone done — a new contentious debate is beginning to take shape across the country.
Germans citizens now seem to be divided over the question of when and how to lift the coronavirus lockdown, Der Spiegel is reporting.
“The German approach has been praised as exemplary by the international media and the mortality rate is low here compared to other countries,” the report noted. “Not only that, but compared to countries like France, Italy or Spain, where permission is necessary to be able to leave one’s home, the measures in Germany have been rather moderate.”
But unease over lockdown restrictions is continuing to rise across the country. “Yet while there was broad acceptance of the new rules during the first weeks of the crisis, people are now asking whether those rules went way too far,” the report adds. “And whether it was all worth it – the collapse of the economy, the potential demise of entire industries, the overburdening of families and the psychological consequences of all the restrictions.”
How South Korea is beating coronavirus without a full lockdown
South Korea went from being the second-most affected in mid-February to registering zero-new local infections last week on Wednesday. South Korea currently has over 10,800 cases. The country’s health and welfare minister Park Neung-hoo told Time how his country had managed to bring about this turnaround without even imposing a full lockdown.
“We never considered a full lockdown as part of our policy response to COVID-19. Although there was an explosive new outbreak in a certain region, we had confidence that we could locate contacts and isolate them successfully,” Neung-hoo said.
“… We fought the virus through an epidemiological approach such as wide diagnostic testing and isolation of contacts, while encouraging people’s voluntary cooperation for social distancing. We believed this was more effective than forcible measures and indeed it paid off,” he added.
Online retailers borrowing workers from other industries
According to a report by the Nikkei Asian review, the increased demand for home delivery is making online retailers borrow furloughed service workers from industries that have been severely hit by the pandemic.
From China to other South East countries, this unique labor borrowing programme is helping companies cope with the added delivery pressures.
“Online retailers and delivery companies seeing a sudden spike in demand from homebound consumers are borrowing workers from industries battered by the coronavirus pandemic in unusual partnerships that could help ease the pain of unemployment crisis,” noted the report.
‘The risk of Sweden’s coronavirus strategy? Blind patriotism’
In an analysis piece for the Washington Post, political scientist Gina Gustavsson looks at the flaws of Sweden’s coronavirus response model and argues that blind patriotism is making matters worse.
Sweden had a combination approach, whereby it saw “a handful of restrictions with strong recommendations for risk groups and anyone feeling sick to self-isolate and voluntary social distancing for everyone else,” she writes.
“As of April 30, Sweden ranked among the 10 countries in the world with the highest Covid-19 deaths per million people, with a ratio of 244. This is seven times more than neighbouring Finland and Norway. While an essential part of Sweden’s strategy was to cocoon the elderly, two thirds of the nursing homes in Stockholm are now infected,” she added.
Regardless of these worrying trends, Gustavasson looks at why Swedish citizens are still celebrating this problematic model.
Sweden has over 22,000 cases and 2,600 deaths.
Guatemala’s Mayan villages reject people returning from the US
A strange mix of stigma and social chaos is taking place in Central American country of Guatemala. “Guatemala’s indigenous Maya towns are spurning returned migrants, threatening some with burning their homes or lynching as fear spreads about more than 100 deportees from the United States who tested positive for the new coronavirus,” the Reuters is reporting.
As the government claims that about a fifth of the cases are linked to people returning from the US, the migrant population is facing a severe backlash from locals, risking the country’s fragile social peace.
Guatemala currently has around 700 cases.
What else we are reading:
The World’s Stadiums Become a Lifeline: The New York Times
Cholera and coronavirus: why we must not repeat the same mistakes: The Guardian Long Read
Economics, not politics, helps explain why coronavirus and other diseases started in China: Washington Post
NATO preparing for second wave of coronavirus infections: Politico
How coronavirus broke America’s healthcare system: Financial Times