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Single use PPEs lead to waste crisis, California’s tryst with pandemic & 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 over 1.56 crore cases and more than 6.36 lakh deaths.

There is renewed panic after Covid-19 cases surge in countries that had seemingly beat the virus. Meanwhile, single use PPEs are leading to a global toxic waste crisis. Also, the pandemic refuses to leave California and the pandemic has exposed the West’s weakest link.

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

Cases surge, even in places that seemed to have beat the virus

The number of coronavirus cases across the world are rapidly rising, including in places that initially seemed to keep the virus at bay, reports The New York Times.

“As the pandemic continues to grow around the world — new cases have risen more than 35 percent since the end of June — troubling resurgences have hit several places that were seen as models of how to respond to the virus,” notes the report.

These places include Melbourne in Australia — which had practically reopened its economy and gone back to normal, Spain — which had also lifted restrictions after a deadly outbreak, and others such as Tokyo and Hong Kong — which were considered the ideal models in terms of deal with the outbreak.

However, these scattered outbreaks are not driving the pandemic, the maximum number of cases are still being recorded in Brazil, US and India, according to the WHO.

Also read: China trade deal means ‘much less to me’ after coronavirus, Trump says

Single use PPEs driving a new toxic waste crisis

Lack of proper disposal mechanisms for single-use personal protective equipment (PPE) kits is now leading to a toxic waste crisis during the pandemic, reports the Financial Times.

“Much of the PPE used around the world is single-use by design and can contain a range of different plastics, from polypropylene and polyethylene in face masks and gowns to nitrile, vinyl and latex in gloves,” states the report.

“As a growing number of ordinary citizens follow governmental guidance and don single-use protective equipment, PPE is also ending up in conventional waste streams or being dumped in the open air. According to a WWF report, even if only 1 per cent of masks are disposed of incorrectly, some 10m will end up in the natural environment a month, polluting rivers and oceans,” it adds.

Covid vaccine dealmaking reveals lack in global coordination

The numerous multibillion dollar coronavirus vaccine deals between rich countries and corporations highlight a complete lack of global cooperation and may hurt poorer countries, reports the Financial Times.

“The resulting patchwork of agreements has raised big questions about global vaccine access and stoked wrangles over pricing, supply security and liability for possible side-effects,” notes the report.

“Efforts to ensure equitable worldwide distribution of any successful vaccine are the exception to the wider dealmaking free-for-all. As rich countries pour rising sums into ad-hoc bets on products they hope will provide an escape hatch out of the pandemic, an official at one vaccine manufacturer observed: In the future, we need a better system,” it adds.

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Trump cancels Florida convention as cases surge over 4 million

With over 4 million cases of coronavirus in the US, President Donald Trump has cancelled plans to hold Republican Party national conventions in Jacksonville, Florida, reports the BBC.

The national conventions of both the Democrats and Republicans takes place every four years — where both the parties nominate their respective presidential candidates.

The president said that it was not the right time to hold the convention and he “just felt it was wrong” to put thousands of attendees at risk.

Now, instead of the usual Republican national convention, Trump will be nominated at a half-day event on 24 August.

California’s never ending tryst with the pandemic

US’ west coast state California was the original coronavirus epicentre in the US, but soon New York took over. Now, the number of cases in California has surpassed New York, continuing the state’s tryst with the pandemic, reports The New York Times.

“California was the first state to issue a stay-at-home order this spring, helping to control an early outbreak. But after a reopening that some health officials warned was too fast, cases surged, leading to a new statewide mask mandate and the closure of bars and indoor dining again. With more than 420,000 known cases, California has surpassed New York to have the most recorded cases of any state, and it set a single-day record on Wednesday with more than 12,100 new cases and 155 new deaths,” says the report.

“California is now in the unwelcome position of having found itself at the center of the pandemic twice over,” it adds.

Also read: 4 lakh jobs have been lost at airlines around the world during the pandemic

Brazil’s record surge in cases as virus spreads to all parts of the country

With nearly 68,000 cases, Brazil recorded a new daily record of coronavirus cases Thursday, which has now spread to every region in the country, reports the Washington Post.

“The pockets of Brazil that had been largely unscathed by the virus — the south, the vast central states — have been engulfed by it,” notes the report.

“The sheer relentlessness of the surge here underscores Brazil’s failure to quell the world’s second-worst coronavirus outbreak. On Wednesday, Latin America’s largest country posted a record 67,860 new cases, bringing the total infected to 2.2 million, with nearly 83,000 dead. Both counts are second only to the United States,” the repost adds.

“The swell is being driven by the outbreak in São Paulo, long Brazil’s coronavirus epicenter, but also new and sharply ascendant outbreaks that span the country. More than 80 percent of Brazilian municipalities have reported cases of coronavirus,” reports The Post.

Pandemic exposed West’s weakest link— Italy

Italy was the first country in Europe to be hit by the Covid-19 outbreak and ended up being the worst hit in the entire continent. Eventually, the country fought back and managed to bring the pandemic under control, but it is still not out of the woods, reports The Atlantic.

“It has the third-largest economy in the European Union, after Germany and France, and the second-highest public debt as a percentage of the economy, after Greece. It is led by a weak coalition government. Its middle class is struggling, its social mobility declining, and its poverty rising. Its gross domestic product is expected to drop by about 11 percent this year,” remarks the report.

“The coronavirus has decidedly confirmed Italy’s place as the weakest link in the West —the biggest country with significant economic and political instability; a proxy battlefield in Western Europe between American, Chinese, and Russian influence; and the most serious threat to the future viability of the European Union,” it adds.

Also read: China drags football into spat with UK, state TV demotes EPL match to secondary channel

3 fictional novels in 2020 that were eerily prescient about pandemic

A new feature in the BBC looks at how three novels that came out this year managed to be so connected to reality and ended up shedding light on the current global health crisis. These novels were The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue, Hamnet by Maggie O’ Farrell and The End of October by Lawrence Wright.

“Wildly different in style and settings, all these novels use a pandemic as a lens on society at a moment of crisis. Extrapolating from history or from science, they highlight issues of public health, government responsibility and class divisions, and with a novelist’s eye consider how those forces affect individuals. High drama flows from the way pandemics threaten the most basic human needs, health and family,” remarks the feature.

What else we are reading:

Why Can’t Trump’s America Be Like Italy? : The New York Times

Spain’s Reopening Stumbles as Virus Cases Rise Among Young People: The New York Times

Israel’s Netanyahu was a pandemic hero — until a second wave plunged him into crisis: Washington Post

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