New Delhi: The novel coronavirus pandemic continues to devastate several countries across the world — the latest count is over 90.51 lakh reported cases and 4.70 lakh deaths worldwide.
The World Health Organization registered the largest single day spike in Covid-19 cases globally Sunday, with more than 1.83 lakh new cases. Meanwhile, the virus has devastated Mexico’s largest market and investors have been moving to the dark corners of debt markets to cope with the economic fallout of the pandemic.
ThePrint brings you the most important global stories on the coronavirus pandemic and why they matter.
With over 1.83 lakh cases, WHO reports largest single day global spike
The World Health Organization has reported the largest single day spike as the world recorded more than 1,83,000 infections of Covid-19 Sunday, reports the South China Morning Post. The US, Brazil and India account for the bulk of these cases.
Brazil recorded 54,711 new cases Sunday and the country’s death toll crossed 50,000. The Latin American country now has nearly 1.1 million cases. Meanwhile, US and India recorded 35,617 and 15,400 new cases respectively.
Protests in Minneapolis did not lead to another outbreak of virus
Experts had feared that protests in the US city of Minneapolis may lead to a spike in the number of coronavirus infections, but early tests indicate otherwise, reports the Wired.
The killing of African-American George Floyd by a White policeman of the Minneapolis Police, sparked widespread protests across the country against systemic racism.
“The testing program in the Twin Cities (Minnesota and St. Paul) has been particularly well-embraced, making it a sort of testbed for the rest of the nation, where protests began later. Now, early data from Minnesota’s efforts suggests such fears may have been overblown. In the vast, unplanned experiment of unleashing tens of thousands of previously isolated people into a few city blocks, that’s good news,” says the report.
“But perhaps even more significant is how this preliminary testing data is starting to reshape scientists’ understanding of how the novel pathogen behaves, with important implications for states’ plans to reopen,” it adds.
France shows virus can be kept in check after unlocking
France began gradually lifting its lockdown on 11 May, and the number of daily infections have also continued to fall in the country, indicating that it is possible to keep the virus in check even without the lockdown, according to the Financial Times. This comes after France was one of the worst hit-countries in Europe along with Italy, Germany, and Spain.
“With social distancing measures still in place and the wearing of face masks made compulsory on public transport, new cases have lately stood at about 450 per day, from a peak of 7,500. Since easing the lockdown, the weekly number of Covid-19 patients sent to hospital has more than halved. France is to allow all businesses to resume and all children to return to school from Monday,” notes the report.
How Covid-19 tore through Mexico’s largest market
A new feature report in the Washington Post looks at how the pandemic spread through and devastated Mexico’s largest market Central de Abasto.
“Protecting the Central’s workers was never going to be easy. The market supplies 80 percent of the capital’s food; some 300,000 buyers and delivery personnel visit each day. It couldn’t shut down. Further complicating matters, it’s highly fragmented. The market management employs only about 1,000 of the 90,000 personnel — mostly janitors and administrative staff. The rest work for the entrepreneurs who own or lease the 7,418 stalls,” notes the report.
“Interviews with vendors indicate that at least dozens lost their lives. Israel González, sitting amid mounds of green chilies in the O-P aisle, said he knew of nine fatalities in his section. Erik Cesario, another chilero, put the figure at 25,” it adds.
Investors find refuge in darker corners of debt market
Several governments have responded forcefully to the economic meltdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic, which has helped avert the worst-case scenario. However, even then, in a “highly indebted” financial system, a wave of corporate and restructurings have generated long-term opportunities for investors, reports the Financial Times.
The shift of investor interest to debt markets is predominantly because the outlook in equity markets continues to be grim and given the supply chain disruptions, corporate earnings would continue to be affected. Now, these investors are looking for opportunities among highly leveraged companies looking for a way out.
“A lengthy process of repairing balance sheets, with weaker companies defaulting and restructuring, suggests the economic recovery will be modest, but it also makes a case for owning areas of the corporate debt market. Companies that pay down their debt in the coming years and climb back up the credit-rating ladder are certainly appealing,” notes the report.
Japan readies 30-minute saliva test for all international travellers
Japanese pharmaceutical company Shionogi has signed a mass-production contract of “a proposed coronavirus test that provides faster results without requiring special equipment or technicians,” reports the Nikkei Asian Review.
“The test was developed by Nihon University professor Masayasu Kuwahara and his team. If it proves effective, Shionogi will seek approval from Japan’s health ministry, hoping to commercialize the test this fall,” notes the report.
“When Japan eases travel restrictions this summer, it will require every international arrival to take a polymerase chain reaction test. But PCR diagnostic tests can take three to five hours for results, and they require specialized equipment and staff. The government seeks a faster alternative that can be conducted in larger volumes to prevent travel bottlenecks,” it adds.
If the virus slows this summer, it may be time to worry for a rebound
Earlier when the pandemic was just beginning, the idea that the virus spread more during colder months was seen as an optimistic sign by scientists and epidemiologist. However, now with summer across the northern hemisphere, perhaps the virus slowing down over the next couple of months might not be as helpful as it seemed, reports Wired.
“In the longer view — looking ahead to fall and winter, too, and then to 2021 — this pattern of infectivity could make the virus even more destructive than we thought. If sunlight and humidity do indeed slow its spread, they won’t knock it out completely in the next few months, and that means we should expect a rebound down the line,” says the report.
“What’s more, epidemiologists suggest this down-and-up won’t cancel out and be a wash: In fact, the exponential bounceback in the winter would likely overshadow any slight deceleration that happened in June, July, and August. That would be very, very bad,” it adds.
As government fails, Cambodians turn towards the spiritual
In Cambodia, a large part of the rural citizenry have very little in way of government facilities and its ability to fight the pandemic, and many of them have turned to religion as a result, highlights Foreign Policy.
“Cambodia has among the lowest number of cases of the coronavirus in Southeast Asia. But there are uncorroborated reports of rampant coronavirus-related deaths in the countryside, and there’s a distinct sense that the government has done far too little to prevent the spread of the virus,” notes the report.
This came after Cambodia kept flights with China open long after its neighbours had shut down travel with it. The government’s response has also been insufficient.
“Although Cambodia is a majority-Theravada Buddhist nation, there is a broad range of diversity among minority belief systems, including elements of animism, Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity. Each has a unique interpretation of the novel coronavirus’s genesis, why the pandemic came into being, and the toll it will take on the world—reflecting not only fears about the pandemic, but also other worries in turbulent times,” adds the report.
What else we are reading:
Will travel be safer by 2022?: BBC
Why Japan’s Jobless Rate Is Just 2.6% While the U.S.’s Has Soared: The New York Times
Vast Federal Aid Has Capped Rise in Poverty, Studies Find: The New York Times