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NATO says stand up to China, migrant workers’ woes in Middle East & other global 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 — at last count, there were 72,01,569 cases and 408,794 deaths.

Stock markets rise across the world in hope of a speedy economic recovery, but the WHO has warned that the pandemic is far from over. The NATO chief is urging countries to stand up to China. The fate of the Middle East’s poor migrant workers hangs in the balance and why is Mexico’s Left-wing populist leader not spending much-needed money during an economic crisis?

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

Global stocks rally hoping economic revival, WHO says pandemic ‘far from over’

Following the cue of Wall Street markets, Asian markets are surging in expectation of a speedy economic revival, reports the Financial Times. On Monday, the key US index, S&P 500, wiped out all the losses incurred in 2020 as it rose 1.2 per cent during the day.

“In early trading on Tuesday, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng climbed 1.3 per cent to put the benchmark on track for sixth straight day of gains. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 2.4 per cent as traders returned from Monday’s public holiday while China’s CSI 300 index of Shanghai- and Shenzhen-listed stocks edged up 0.4 per cent,” notes the report.

Even as markets across the world continue to surge, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that the pandemic is getting worse across the world and it is “far from over”, reports Reuters.

“More than 136,000 new cases were reported worldwide on Sunday, the most in a single day so far, he (the WHO chief) said. Nearly 75% of them were reported from 10 countries, mostly in the Americas and South Asia,” adds the Reuters report.

NATO chief urges nations to ‘stand up’ to China’s bullying

In an unprecedented statement, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg warned that China is “multiplying the threat to open societies and individual freedoms” and urged like-minded countries to stand up to Chinese bullying, reports the Financial Times.

“Jens Stoltenberg, secretary-general of the transatlantic security alliance, said on Monday that the Covid-19 pandemic had ‘magnified existing tensions and trends when it comes to our security’. China’s emergence as the world’s second-largest military spender demands a ‘more global approach’ from the 30-country NATO group, he added,” explains the report.

“His remarks reflect how China has been rising up the agenda of the 71-year-old alliance, which was set up during the cold war as a bulwark against the Soviet Union,” it says.

Angry backlash in Brazil after government hides data on Covid deaths

Following Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s decision to put limits on the release of Covid-19 data pertaining to number of cases and deaths, his supporters staged mass rallies in protests, asking, “What do you want me to do?”, reports the New York Times.

“Now that the outbreak in Brazil has gotten even worse — with more infections than any country but the United States — Mr. Bolsonaro’s government has come up with a unique response to the growing alarm: It decided to stop reporting the cumulative toll of the virus altogether,” says the report.

“Lawmakers and health experts quickly attacked Mr. Bolsonaro in unusually blistering terms. Not only did they condemn the government’s decision to withhold comprehensive statistics as deaths and contagion continue to soar, but they roundly criticized the Bolsonaro administration’s repeated practice of playing down the danger of the virus, regardless of what scientists and his own health ministers may say,” it explains.

Middle East’s migrant workers look for a way home amid pandemic

For the past few years, Middle Eastern economies had been rethinking their economic models, which use cheap labour from South and Southeast Asia to run its oil and gas economy. Now the coronavirus pandemic has added to the urgency, forcing states to overnight change their economic models, leaving millions of migrant workers homeless, reports The Guardian.

“Across the Middle East, the labour forces that have greased the wheels of the oil states’ economies, cleaned the homes of the middle classes and often raised their children, are suddenly on the move. The twin crises of Covid-19 and unprecedented financial stress has forced a reckoning like no other between employers and labour companies on one hand and masses of workers from all parts of the world,” explains the report.

Most of these workers have either not been paid or been fired given the economic turmoil caused by the pandemic. The crisis is especially acute in countries such as Qatar and UAE, where migrant workers make up more than 78 per cent of the population.

“A report released on Friday predicted that millions of workers would eventually leave the region as the post-lockdown recession took hold, dramatically cutting the population of some states,” says The Guardian.

Coronavirus leading to drought and hunger in Zimbabwe

The coronavirus-enforced lockdowns have spelled havoc for Zimbabwe’s poor, who had already been grappling with rampant unemployment even before the pandemic struck, reports the South China Morning Post.

“When Zimbabwe went into coronavirus lockdown in late March, it hit the country’s working poor hard. No economic activity meant no work, no money and little to no food,” the report says.

“Unemployment before the outbreak was already rampant in Zimbabwe, one of Africa’s poorest countries. Almost 80 per cent of its 14.5 million people work in the informal sector, like street vendors and food stalls – trade that has virtually stopped in the lockdown. Many people are struggling to put food on the table and government help has not yet reached them,” it elaborates.

Tanzanian president declares his country “Covid-free”, WHO concerned

On Monday, Tanzanian President John Magufuli declared that his country was now free of the “corona disease” thanks to “god”, reports the BBC. Meanwhile, the WHO has expressed concern over how the pandemic is being handled by the government, which has stopped publishing data on the number of cases in the country.

“On 29 April, the last day official data was released, there were 509 cases, with 21 deaths in Tanzania. However, Mr Magufuli said last week that only four patients were receiving treatment in the largest city, Dar es Salaam. Last month, Tanzania’s government dismissed a US embassy warning that hospitals in Dar es Salaam were “overwhelmed” and that the chances of contracting the virus was “extremely high”,” says the report.

“Mr Magufuli has repeatedly said the health crisis has been exaggerated and urged people to attend services in churches and mosques, saying that prayers “can vanquish” the virus,” it adds.

Mexico’s Leftist leader rejects big spending to ease virus’s sting

Mexico’s President Lopez Obrador has been overturning the classic playbook of all Left-wing populist leaders by denying stimulus and bailout packages to business, even as millions dependent on them risk falling into poverty, reports the New York Times.

Most governments around the world have responded to the coronavirus pandemic by increasing spending and helping to bail out struggling firms. But not in Mexico, which, according to some experts might face its toughest economic crisis in over a century.

“Yet most economists estimate that Mexico will increase spending only slightly — by less than 1 percent of its economy — a small amount compared with many large nations. The reason? Critics and supporters agree: Mr. López Obrador,” notes the report.

“Hostile toward bailouts, loath to take on public debt and deeply mistrustful of most business leaders, Mexico’s president has opted largely to sit tight despite what is expected to be widespread pain up and down the economic ladder,” it says.

Indonesia’s Bali becomes coronavirus hideout for foreigners amid pandemic

As travel restrictions have brought about a halt in global tourism, about 900 foreign nationals, mostly Chinese, have sought permits to stay in Bali, an Indonesian tourist island, reports the South China Morning Post.

While Indonesia has been one of the worst-hit countries in Southeast Asia, islands such as Bali and Bintan have been relatively less affected, which has prompted tourists to prolong their stay there, according to local authorities.

What else we are reading:

Health experts on the psychological cost of Covid-19: The Guardian

Emerging economies forecast to shrink for first time in 60 years: Financial Times

When 511 Epidemiologists Expect to Fly, Hug and Do 18 Other Everyday Activities Again: New York Times

Syria protests erupt in rare show of dissent against Assad: Financial Times

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