New Delhi: The novel coronavirus pandemic continues to devastate several countries across the world — the latest count is more than 10.41 million cases and more than 5.08 lakh deaths.
Afghanistan’s already war-torn healthcare system is now being crushed by the pandemic. A fall in remittances have meant that several Nepali families now face hunger. And as scientists try to understand why coronavirus mutation has taken over the world, people also ask if cinema will ever be the same again.
ThePrint brings you the most important global stories on the coronavirus pandemic and why they matter.
Coronavirus overwhelms Afghanistan’s healthcare-system
As the pandemic spreads across Afghanistan, the country’s healthcare system, which had already been grappling with decades of war, is now under increasing pressure, reports the BBC. Doctors say that the hospitals are running short of oxygen and other resources necessary to deal with Covid-19 cases.
“There are issues with testing too. Low levels of testing suggest there are ‘substantially; more Covid-19 cases than the official figures, according to World Health Organization (WHO) representative for Afghanistan, Dr Rik Peeperkorn. About 31,000 infections have been recorded to date. Close to half of all tests conducted so far have been positive, one of the highest rates in the world,” notes the report.
Other local news reports, such as 32 ventilators being stolen from the country’s health ministry and sold to Pakistan, are adding to public frustration.
Nepal’s families face hunger as remittances collapse
The pandemic has meant that a large number of Nepali migrants working in India, Southeast Asia and the Middle East have suddenly lost their jobs and are no longer able to send money back home. This dramatic fall in remittances is leading to several families facing hunger as they are forced to skip meals, reports Reuters.
“More than 56 percent of Nepal’s estimated 5.4 million households receive remittances that are a vital lifeline for families that have no other source of income, official figures show. Remittances totaled $8.1 billion last year, or more than a quarter of Nepal’s gross domestic product, but are likely to drop 14% in 2020 because of the global recession caused by the virus, as well as a fall in oil prices, the World Bank says,” notes the report.
“Without remittances these families will get poorer and crimes like human trafficking and prostitution could rise,” said Ganesh Gurung an analyst and migrant issues expert at the Nepal Institute of Development Studies.
Coronavirus is destroying the drivers of economic growth in Africa: middle class
From South Africa and Rwanda to Kenya and Nigeria, the pandemic has destroyed livelihoods of African people who were helping drive economic growth across several countries in Africa, reports the New York Times.
“For the last decade, Africa’s middle class has been pivotal to the educational, political and economic development across the continent. New business owners and entrepreneurs have created jobs that, in turn, gave others a leg up as well,” notes the report.
“About 170 million out of Africa’s 1.3 billion people are now classified as middle class. But about eight million of them could be thrust into poverty because of the coronavirus and its economic fallout, according to World Data Lab, a research organization,” it adds.
EU opens doors to visitors from 14 ‘safe countries’
As the pandemic has come relatively under control across the European Union (EU), the 27-member grouping is now planning to allow foreign visitors from select countries that are deemed safe, reports the BBC.
The list includes 14 countries from which people will be allowed to travel to the EU from July 1. This includes Australia, Canada, South Korea, Japan, New Zealand, Algeria, Georgia, Montenegro, Morocco, Rwanda, Serbia, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay. But it leaves out other prominent countries such as the United States, Brazil and China.
“The EU is ready to add China if the Chinese government offers a reciprocal deal for EU travellers, diplomats say,” notes the report.
As cases surge in the US, Trump administration is changing its message
A recent address by the US Vice President Mike Pence shows how President Donald Trump’s message of “mission accomplished” against the pandemic is being gradually withdrawn and replaced by more cautious messaging, reports Politico.
“The striking shift in the vice president’s tone — from zealously defending Trump’s push to reopen the U.S. economy to complimenting governors on Monday for halting their states’ reopenings — underscores Pence’s thorny position as he works to balance his and Trump’s political futures, which largely rely on convincing voters an economic rebound is on the horizon, with ensuring an appropriate response to an unwieldy new phase in the coronavirus pandemic,” says the report.
Why has coronavirus mutation taken over the world?
The mutation of the Covid-19 virus that was found in Europe was also seen in the US, and scientists are now trying to understand what explains this globalisation of this virus mutation, reports the Washington Post.
“Like all coronaviruses, SARS-CoV-2 has a series of characteristic spikes surrounding its core. These spikes are what allow the virus to attach to human cells,” explains the report. “A mutation affecting the virus’s spike protein changed amino acid 614 from “D” (aspartic acid) to “G” (glycine). Research suggests that this small change — which affects three identical amino acid chains — might make the spike protein more effective, enhancing the virus’s infectiousness.”
Thus, while it is unclear if the mutation is making people sicker than the original one, a growing number of scientists now seem to think it is more contagious.
Coronavirus may kill populism
In an opinion piece, the Financial Times’ Gideon Rachman argues that the coronavirus might eventually end up killing populism across the world.
He writes that if there is one thing that’s common among most populists, it is their inability to face reality, which explains Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro and US President Donald Trump’s botched response to the pandemic. Meanwhile, Germany’s Angela Merkel’s response was in stark contrast.
Rachman argues that this might eventually cause electoral losses for leaders like Trump and Bolsonaro, resulting in the weakening of global populism.
Cinema may never be the same again
Going to movies has been one of the most egalitarian activities over the past century, but given this pandemic, that might have to change, argues Catherine Shoard, The Guardian’s film editor.
“That’s over (the egalitarian aspect of cinema watching). Maybe not quite yet, maybe not entirely, but it’s hard to foresee a future in which film-going as we know it doesn’t become an elite experience. Poorer people will be priced out because the best way to insulate yourself from risk is with distance. And — as with houses or airplanes or iClouds — space is expensive,” she writes, adding that this will also impact the kind of movies that are made.
What else we are reading:
College Is Worth It, but Campus Isn’t: New York Times
Millions track the pandemic on Johns Hopkins’s dashboard. Those who built it say some miss the real story: Washington Post
John Oliver: coronavirus could turn into ‘a full-blown homelessness crisis’: The Guardian
Lufthansa to link Covid-19 tests with tickets in effort to avoid quarantine: Financial Times