New Delhi: The novel coronavirus pandemic continues to devastate countries across the world — the latest count being over 10 crore cases and more than 21 lakh deaths.
Lockdown in Hong Kong has exposed deep-rooted inequality. UK residents toil to cope with grief as deaths cross one lakh-mark. And the German government challenges efficacy report of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
ThePrint brings you the most important global stories on the coronavirus pandemic and why they matter.
Hong Kong’s first Covid-19 lockdown has exposed deep-rooted inequality
In Hong Kong, “a city where sleek luxury malls sit shoulder-to-shoulder with overcrowded tenements”, the lockdown has exposed deep inequalities, reports The New York Times.
“In normal times, that inequality is often concealed by the city’s glittery surface. But during the coronavirus pandemic, its cost has become unmistakable,” the report states.
For instance, the neighbourhood of Jordan had 160 confirmed cases out of the 1,100 cases being reported across the city. Officials have attributed the transmission to the “dilapidated living conditions of many residents” in the area, adds the report.
It quotes Andy Yu, an elected official in the area, as saying, “If they did anything wrong, it is to be poor, to live in a subdivided flat, or to have a different skin colour.”
Hong Kong has reported 10,223 cases and 172 deaths.
UK’s ‘tsunami’ of grief as coronavirus deaths pass 100,000
UK has become the smallest nation to pass the one lakh death mark, and hundreds of thousands of its residents toil with the grief of the pandemic, reports the Associated Press.
It highlights the arduous trials of people like Gordon Bonner, a retired Army major, who lost his wife of 63 years to the pandemic. “I suddenly understood I had to change my attitude, that memories are not shackles, they are garlands and one should wear them like garlands around your shoulders and use them to communicate between the quick and the dead,” he is quoted as saying.
The social distancing measures that had been reimposed have made this excess of grief all the more acute, experts said.
UK has reported 36,89,746 cases and 1,00,162 deaths.
Germany challenges reports of ‘low’ efficacy rate of Covid-19 vaccine
The German government has challenged reports of lower-than-expected efficacy rate of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine for older people, reports The Guardian.
A report in the Handelsbatt business daily had said that the government was expecting the European Medicines Agency’s assessment to show only an 8 per cent efficacy rate for those above 65 years.
“AstraZeneca instantly dismissed the reports on Monday night, saying the 8 per cent figure was “completely incorrect”, the report states.
It also quoted the German health minister, who had first described the daily report as “speculation” and then said that it had muddled the number of participants with the efficacy rate for those aged above 55 years.
Germany has reported 21,63,113 cases and 54,390 deaths.
Teachers in US are moving to the front of the vaccine line
In the US, teachers have moved towards the front of the line for vaccine shots but it has not gone hand-in-hand with efforts to return students to classrooms, reports The Washington Post.
“Part of the problem is the chaotic logistics of vaccine distribution as the pandemic rages on. Not all teachers can get the shots right away, and even for those who do, the process takes time,” the report highlights.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines that states that the second-priority group which includes adults above 75 years and “essential” workers including teachers isn’t binding. So far 22 states have made vaccines available for teachers, which has sparked opposition as many have questioned why educators working remotely, without a clear end in sight, should be vaccinated.
US has reported 2,60,11,222 cases and 4,35,452 deaths.
Ontario’s lack of benchmarks to reopen classrooms in hot zones sows confusion
Authorities in Canada’s Ontario province are yet to reveal its parameters for reopening schools in hotspot areas, reports The Globe and Mail.
According to the report, this has triggered confusion among school-board officials and “concerns that insufficient safety measures will be in place when students return to the classroom”.
“Ontario is the only province that has kept many of its schools closed to in-person learning until at least Feb. 10,” the report states.
It also notes the remarks of Education Minister Stephen Lecce who said, “That’s a determination public-health units and leaders will make looking at mobility, youth positivity rates, broader community transmission, a variety of environmental challenges that have really created some risks for schools.”
Canada has reported 7,57,022 cases and 19,403 deaths.
What else we are reading:
Overcrowded and Overwhelmed: Why Israel’s Current COVID-19 Wave Is the ‘Worst Yet’: Haaretz
Spain struggling to contain third coronavirus wave as more infectious strain takes hold: El País