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Russia, China cut corners in vaccine race, fire and virus rage in Brazil & other 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 countries across the world — the latest count is more than 2.02 crore (20.2 million) cases and more than 7.38 lakh deaths.

US President Donald Trump is considering banning the re-entry of US citizens and permanent residents who might be infected with the novel coronavirus. India, Russia and China appear to be cutting corners in the race for a vaccine, while Brazil now faces the threat of Amazon fires amid an uncontrolled pandemic. Meanwhile, global supply chains are reorienting and banks face their gravest crisis since 2008.

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

Trump considers banning re-entry of infected US citizens

US President Donald Trump is considering a new immigration proposal that would temporarily allow the border officials to ban the re-entry of US citizens and legal permanent residents if they are suspected to be infected with the novel coronavirus, reports The New York Times.

“In recent months, Mr. Trump has imposed sweeping rules that ban entry by foreigners into the United States, citing the risk of allowing the virus to spread from hot spots abroad. But those rules have exempted two categories of people trying to return: American citizens and foreigners who have already established legal residence. Now, a draft regulation would modify that effort by expanding the government’s power to prevent entry by citizens and legal residents in individual, limited circumstances,” says the report.

Pandemic wasn’t enough, Brazil now faces Amazon fires

As Brazil struggles to bring the pandemic under control, it is now facing another threat of fires in the Amazon rainforests, making a bad situation worse, reports Al Jazeera.

“Fires in the Brazilian Amazon have surged far in August, government data on Friday showed, outstripping the same period of 2019 and renewing concerns about the destruction of the world’s largest rainforest, which is a critical bulwark against climate change,” says the report. “Brazilian space research agency INPE recorded 5,860 fires in the Amazon in the first six days of August, a seven percent increase from the same period of last year.”

Also read: Covid cases among children in US increased by 40% in late July

Russia, China and India cut corners in vaccine development

As countries across the world race towards finding a vaccine for the novel coronavirus, many international testing standards are not being followed in India, Russia, and China, reports Der Spiegel.

Russia is “just one of many examples showing how the race for a COVID-19 vaccine continues to accelerate — fueled in part by autocratic countries like Russia and China, which aren’t always so fastidious when it comes to medical and ethical standards,” notes the report.

The report continues, “A research breakthrough would mean that Moscow and Beijing would be able to protect their populations more quickly and reopen their economies earlier than their rivals. A vaccine wouldn’t just represent an advance in the fight against the virus, it would also translate into power, prestige and money, since the rest of the world would be clamoring to buy the remedy.”

New Zealand reports surge in separations during lockdown

Divorce lawyers and marriage therapists are reporting an increase in the number of couples having decided to separate during the Covid-19 lockdown in New Zealand, reports The Guardian.

“Some New Zealand family lawyers have been overwhelmed with enquiries — and are even turning prospective clients away — because of an increase in newly-separated couples seeking legal advice after they split during the country’s strict Covid-19 lockdown,” notes the report.

“While there are no official figures on the number of couples breaking up, the surge of new clients noticed by some New Zealand lawyers mirrors Australia research suggesting 42% of couples had experienced negative changes in their relationship,” the report explains.

Despite vulnerabilities, Australian political system holding up

The second wave of infections in Australia has highlighted the problems with the Australian political system, but “at a fundamental level”, it is holding up, writes Peter Lewis in an opinion piece for The Guardian.

“The virus has exposed weaknesses in our system, particularly the deregulation of our labour markers, where the contracting out of essential care workers and the lack of paid sick leave for casual workers have had a material impact on the disease’s course,” he writes. “There is also the constitutional hand-ball of responsibility for elderly people.”

But, he continues, regardless of these weaknesses, the country’s “institutions and political system are holding up” during this crisis. “The most obvious manifestation of this is the ongoing support, across partisan lines, for government at both state and federal levels,” Lewis argues.

Also read: Pandemic-inspired homes could be the future of design innovation

Global threats reorient supply chains

Following the pandemic, and in expectation of more such crises, companies could shift at least a quarter of their product sourcing to new countries over the next five years, according to a new report by the McKinsey Global Institute, reports the Financial Times.

“The study underscores the extent to which the Covid-19 crisis forced companies to rethink the just-in-time supply chains on which the global economy has come to depend. But it emphasises that the pressures for this new focus on supply chain resilience and regionalisation were building before the pandemic hit,” notes the report.

It adds, “Trade tensions, cyber attacks and climate risks from heatwaves to hurricanes are all exposing companies to increasingly costly interruptions, said Susan Lund, a partner at MGI, the research arm of the global consultancy.”

Banks face the greatest crisis since the Great Recession

Banks across the world, especially those that cater to small businesses and consumers, are facing their toughest challenge since the 2008 recession, reports the Financial Times.

“For the smallest and weakest still struggling to recover from the cataclysm 12 years ago, coronavirus could prove fatal. For the biggest, it portends a period of hand-to-mouth survival — weak profits, no dividends and much lower, or no, bonuses — at a time when most investors had already turned bearish,” notes the report.

“Vast credit losses are the primary concern. Six months into Covid-19, the numbers are already staggering. The 15-largest US banks have set aside $76bn to cover projected bad debts and their 32-biggest European cousins €56bn, Citigroup data shows,” it adds.

Also read: To travel or not to travel? Japan can’t give a straight answer

Political reality catches up with the South Korean leader

South Korean President Moon Jae-in gained a lot of public support for his government’s swift response to Covid, which resulted in a landslide victory for him in the mid-pandemic election. But now, political reality is beginning to catch up with him. As house prices soar in the country’s virus-hit economy, Moon’s support rate is plummeting, reports the Nikkei Asian Review.

“Last week, several of Moon’s highest-ranking aides tendered their resignations after Moon ordered high-ranking government officials who own more than one home to sell off their extra properties. This was intended to create more supply in Seoul and as a gesture of solidarity with the public,” says the report.

Observers and public interpreted these resignations as a suggestion that Moon’s government officials cared more about their homes than loyalty to public service.

“In a sign of public discontent, Moon’s approval rating slid to 43.9%, down more than 60% a few months ago, according to a RealMeter poll released Monday,” the report adds.

How China controlled the virus

A new long read in The New Yorker looks at how China managed to bring the pandemic under control unlike any other country, following the initial outbreak. Peter Hessler, a staffer at The New Yorker, has been teaching in the Chinese province of Sichuan, and he recounts how he saw the government bring the pandemic under control in record time.

What else we are reading:

The city recovers: The New Yorker

Pints or primers? U.K.’s push to open schools may force a choice: The New York Times

Coronavirus infections stabilise in Australia’s Victoria state: Straits Times

Also read: Sweden model no more, pandemic highlights gap between ravers and boomers & other Covid news


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