New Delhi: The novel coronavirus pandemic continues to devastate countries across the world — the latest count is over 18.7 million cases and more than 7.04 lakh deaths.
Six months in, what the world’s experience with fighting a ghost-like disease has been like. The US is using the pandemic to break new diplomatic ground with Taiwan, while the virus has helped Italian prime minister cement his political legacy. Meanwhile, hotels are increasingly trying to lure customers by advertising their housekeeping.
ThePrint brings you the most important global stories on the coronavirus pandemic and why they matter.
World’s experience with ‘fighting a ghost’
More than six months into the pandemic, most governments across the world find themselves in a strange position — while the worst seems to be behind them, they are increasingly unsure about the future, reports The Guardian.
“More than 200 days since coronavirus was first detected, public health authorities say the number of infections is accelerating and the peak still lies ahead. In early August, the world finds itself at a nebulous stage: past the shock of the pandemic but without a clear end in sight,” notes the report.
“It is a period of grinding negotiation between a virus whose dynamics are still mysterious and the increasingly pressing need to earn incomes, educate children and connect with one another. It will go on until a vaccine can be found and distributed on a mass scale, or lasting immunity is possible and built at great human cost,” it adds.
The report quotes Robin Neely, a resident of Arizona, who says, “We don’t have sufficient testing in place, and we don’t have contact tracing sufficiently in place. So we’re still shadow boxing, we’re still fighting a ghost. We don’t know where this thing is.”
US’ major diplomatic outreach to Taiwan under shadow of pandemic
The US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar will be travelling to Taipei, Taiwan this month, reports The Washington Post. This will not only be the highest-ever diplomatic visit by a US minister to Taiwan in the past six years, but is also likely to anger Beijing.
“Taiwanese officials in Washington said Azar would meet with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and other senior officials during the visit. Taiwan’s widely praised response to the coronavirus pandemic — despite its exclusion from the World Health Organization — is expected to feature in discussions,” notes the report.
“While a visit by Azar will not be considered as provocative in Beijing as a trip by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, for instance, it revolves around a charged, high-profile issue — the coronavirus pandemic — for which the Trump administration has heaped blame on China,” it adds.
Trump’s comical attempt to obscure pandemic’s reality
A large part of US President Donald Trump’s business and political success has been about his ability to “obscure and defy reality”. But the president is failing to do this with the pandemic, and his justifications increasingly sound comical, argues The New Yorker’s John Cassidy.
The seven-day average of the number of cases in the US has gone from 21,958 on 3 June to 60,202 on 3 August — marking an increase of 175 per cent in two months.
“It is a remarkable record of manipulation and effrontery, but the coronavirus doesn’t listen to Trump’s bluster or read his tweets … Confronted with these developments, Trump has become even more brazen in promoting an alternative reality,” writes Cassidy.
Pandemic cements Italian PM’s position
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, an unlikely politician, has been helped by the pandemic and his government’s subsequent response, in cementing his position and political legitimacy, reports the Financial Times.
“In 2018, few in Rome were ready to bet that Giuseppe Conte would be a lasting prime minister. A legal professor plucked from obscurity to lead a populist coalition government, he commanded little power and was cast as a parent mediating between the unruly antics of the League leader Matteo Salvini and the then Five Star leader Luigi Di Maio,” says the report.
“Two years later, after leading the country through its response to the Covid-19 crisis and returning triumphantly from the EU summit with billions of euros in rescue funds for Italy last month, he has emerged as a political force in his own right,” it adds.
Boris Johnson’s political career has all the wrong lessons for a pandemic
Currently, the UK government finds itself in the midst of a dilemma, of whether to chose a gradual return to economic activity and a higher number of infections or suppression of freedoms and a pandemic under control. An opinion piece in The Guardian by Rafael Behr argues that the lessons prime Minister Boris Johnson has learnt on his way to power ill equip him to make such decisions.
“It [the brand of politics Johnson has developed] facilitates message discipline (as long as the message is distilled into a slogan and simple to the point of infantilism). It is primed for the ruthless crushing of enemies. It wins campaigns and disorients rivals. But those qualities are inimical to the task of building consensus for long-lasting, painful social and economic measures in a society already divided by years of aggressive partisan politics, which is the governing task in hand,” notes the piece.
“He (Johnson) would find it all so much easier if pubs or schools could be classified as the enemy, but the country is awkwardly fond of both. There are no traitors to be hounded in the battle against Covid-19,” it adds.
American stimulus helps Mexican immigrants send money back home
As the US government facilitated an unprecedented stimulus in the face of the pandemic, there have been some unexpected beneficiaries, reports the Financial Times. Many of the Mexican immigrants working in the US have been able to remit more money back home.
“Remittances to Mexico have proved resilient since the start of the Covid-19 crisis, after hitting a record $36bn last year,” notes the report.
“In the opening weeks of the crisis in March, remittances hit a record monthly high of $4bn. And data published on Monday showed that in June, they rose 4.7 per cent month on month to $3.5bn, according to the Bank of Mexico. As a result, total remittances in the first six months of this year reached a record $19.1bn — 10.6 per cent higher than in the same period in 2019,” it adds.
Thousands of Venezuelans who fled country now join Peru’s health system
The Peruvian government has now allowed several thousands of Venezuelan health workers to join the country’s health services during the pandemic, reports the BBC. These are people who have fled their country and are now residing in Peru.
“Peru’s Prime Minister Pedro Cateriano said that the emergency decree would allow qualified Peruvian and foreign doctors to practice medicine during the pandemic even if they are not registered with Peru’s medical council,” says the report.
“Peru has more than 430,000 cases of coronavirus and its health service has been struggling. (And) more than 830,000 Venezuelans have arrived in the country in recent years,” it adds.
Hotels touting housekeeping to lure customers
Until a few months ago, hotels used to flaunt their bars and spas as part of branding and marketing, but the pandemic has changed that. Now, increasingly, hotels are touting their housekeeping to lure more customers during the pandemic, reports the New York Times.
“Hilton has partnered with Lysol, Four Seasons with Johns Hopkins Medicine. But new research shows hotels can be easily contaminated by the coronavirus,” notes the report.
“A study scheduled for publication in September in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases — but already made public by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on its website — found that people infected with the coronavirus shed it on pillow cases, duvet covers, sheets, light switch and bathroom door and faucet handles,” it adds.
What else we are reading:
New York needs less bickering, more teamwork: The New York Times
Queensland to close border to New South Wales: BBC
Tanzania’s president says country is virus free. Others warn of disaster: The New York Times
How do we help domestic-violence victims who stay with their partners?: The Atlantic