President of China, Xi Jinping | Yorgos Karahalis | Bloomberg
File photo of Chinese President Xi Jinping | Photo: Yorgos Karahalis | Bloomberg
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New Delhi: The novel coronavirus pandemic continues to devastate countries across the world — the latest count is over 2.25 crore cases and more than 7.91 lakh deaths.

The World Bank has warned about poor countries in recession now moving into depression. Spain, Italy and France are seeing record second wave cases. Meanwhile, Mexico has banned junk food for children and China held a secret high-level meeting during the pandemic.

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

Pandemic pushes poorer nations from recession to depression: World Bank 

World Bank chief David Malpass has called for a more ambitious debt relief plan for poorer countries, where the pandemic is pushing them from recession to depression, reports The Guardian.

“In an interview with the Guardian, David Malpass raised the prospect of the first systematic write-off of debts since the 2005 Gleneagles agreement as he said fresh Bank figures due out next month would show an extra 100 million people had been pushed into poverty by the crisis,” notes the report. 

“Poor countries had been worse hit by the economic fallout from Covid-19, Malpass added, and a growing debt crisis meant it was necessary to go beyond the repayment holidays offered by rich countries earlier this year,” it adds. 

New York’s 1.5 million antibody test shows Covid hit was larger

The New York City administration carried out one of the world’s largest antibody tests with over 1.5 million tests, and the results suggests that the number of infected in the city might be much larger than initially expected, reports the New York Times

“Across the city, more than 27 percent of those tested had positive antibody results. The borough with the highest rate was the Bronx, at 33 percent. Manhattan had the lowest rate, at 19 percent,” notes the report. 

“This gives us a sense at a deeper level of the magnitude of the penetration of the infection into the population,” said Wafaa El-Sadr of Columbia University. Though a larger number of infections have also raised hopes for a quicker herd immunity.


Also read: World Bank looking at ways to cut poor nations’ debt instead of delaying payments


Mexico moves to ban junk food for children over obesity risk during Covid 

Mexico has been banning the sale of junk food for children, stating the added health risk of obesity during the coronavirus pandemic, reports Washington Post

“Spurred by growing evidence that being overweight increases the risk of serious illness with an infection by the novel coronavirus, a number of Mexican states are moving to ban the sale of junk food to children,” notes the report.

“The pandemic has created an explosion of awareness about why Mexicans are so vulnerable to certain diseases, prompting ambitious new bills in at least 10 states and Mexico City,” it adds.

Record second wave cases in Spain, France and Italy

As most European countries are now experiencing a second wave of coronavirus, Spain, France and Italy are recording their highest number of infections since the lockdowns were lifted in each of these countries, reports The Guardian

France has been recording more than 3,000 daily cases — the highest since May. Meanwhile, Spain recorded 3,715 infections on Wednesday and Italy recorded 642 — the highest for both since May. 

The fear of a second wave engulfing the continent has prompted states to reintroduce travel restrictions and strengthen social distancing rules.

Virus pushes UK military into virtual war-gaming 

UK’s top defense leadership are increasingly looking for new virtual reality technologies to carry out war gaming, reports the Financial Times

“UK defence chiefs are seeking to fast-track new virtual reality technology developed by a British gaming company to create a digital replica of the country, arguing this would help test resilience to future pandemics, natural disasters and attacks by hostile states,” says the report. 

“The Ministry of Defence has already spent more than £25m on contracts with software developer Improbable — which has pioneered the technology — to investigate its potential,” it adds.


Also read: Denounce ‘anti-Muslim bigotry’ — Facebook staff in US, other countries write to company


CCP politics amid the pandemic

The disappearance of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) top leadership over the past few days has prompted discussions that “China’s annual summer ritual, the unofficial meetings between incumbent leaders and party elders at the seaside resort of Beidaihe”, has taken place despite the pandemic, reports the Nikkei Asian Review

“The extended absence of the top leadership from state media — the whereabouts of President Xi Jinping was unknown for more than half a month — suggested that something was happening. Yet there were none of the usual hints that the government drops to informally announce that the leaders were gathered in the Hebei Province beach town,” notes the report. 

“Political pundits within the country have been left scratching their heads. “This summer is not normal,” one said. The Beidaihe meeting “has gone into complete stealth mode”,” it adds. 

South Korea’s church cluster 

Since South Korea managed to bring the pandemic under control — in almost record time — the country has had to grapple with frequent coronavirus clusters. The most recent one  involves a Church-going group that has tried to defy the government’s restrictions, reports the Nikkei Asian Review

“The Presbyterian church, which says it has more than 4,000 members, is maintaining its own brand of lockdown after coming under criticism for potentially fanning the outbreak by holding an outdoor anti-government rally on Saturday attended by more than 10,000 people,” says the report.

“But hanging over the sidewalks are banners criticizing what the church sees as unfair government interference,” it adds.

What else we are reading:

Germany haunted by spectre of zombie companies: The Financial Times 

Venezuela Deploys Security Forces in Coronavirus Crackdown: New York Times


Also read: US ends extradition & tax pacts with Hong Kong as Trump mounts pressure on China


 

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