New Delhi: The novel coronavirus pandemic continues to devastate several countries across the world — the latest count is over 90.7 lakh cases and more than 4.9 lakh deaths.
The pandemic has led to an unprecedented fall in global trade. The top health body in the US has warned that the country could have 10 times more Covid-19 cases than currently recognised. Meanwhile, Xi Jinping’s protégé is under political scrutiny and Pakistan’s ruling party has turned a health crisis into a political one.
ThePrint brings you the most important global stories on the coronavirus pandemic and why they matter.
Pandemic leads to unprecedented fall in global trade
As one report after another continue to paint a grim picture of the global economy, a new Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis report has shown that global trade shrunk at an unprecedented scale during the month of May, reports the Financial Times.
During April global trade fell by 12 per cent compared the previous one, and is the largest decline since trade records have been maintained since 2000.
“All regions reported a fall in trade volumes, but the eurozone was the hardest hit with trade volumes falling by 20.1 per cent month on month in April. Its goods trade has contracted by 28.5 per cent over the past year,” says the report.
“Trade volumes in the US dropped by 16.8 per cent month on month in April, while trade in emerging Asia, which includes China and India, fell by 6 per cent. Chinese export volumes shrank in April, after a mild expansion in March as the pandemic eased in the country,” it adds.
US observes new record in daily new infections, officials warn of 20 mn cases
As the US set its new one-day record for coronavirus cases – with 39,818 cases – the country’s top health officials have warned that the actual number of cases in the country could have exceeded 20 million by now, reports BBC.
The US Centre for Diseases Control (CDC) has said that the true number of Covid-19 cases is likely to be 10 times the recorded number. US currently has 2.4 million cases and 122,370 deaths.
Dr Robert Redfield told reporters, “We probably recognized about 10% of the outbreak by the methods that we use to diagnosis between the March, April and May.” According to him, between 5 and 8 per cent of the US population has been exposed to the virus.
Pandemic response can wait, Russia holds poll to extend Putin’s rule
As the Covid pandemic continues to devastate Russia, the government has opened polling stations for residents to vote for a referendum that seeks to extend President Vladimir Putin’s rule by another 16 years, reports BBC.
While the polling was set to take place on 1 July, the polling stations have been opened a week in advance.
“The big changes would limit a president’s rule to two six-year terms in total, rather than two consecutive terms, and reset the clock so Mr Putin could continue in office after 2024,” notes the report. “Aside from potentially allowing him to lead Russia until 2036 – the reforms would give the president power to nominate top judges and prosecutors for approval by Russia’s upper house of parliament.”
Putin has faced a lot of international criticism for his poor handling of the pandemic. He is believed to have pushed forward state leaders and other members of the government to become the face of government’s Covid response, allowing him to avoid domestic criticism. Russia has over 6.1 lakh Covid cases and 8,600 deaths.
How Pakistan’s ruling party turned a health crisis into a political crisis
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government has followed a highly “politicised” response to the pandemic, and now that is eroding its already weak public legitimacy, argues an article in The Diplomat.
The percentage of Pakistanis who consider the Khan government worse than the previous one rose from 35 per cent in December 2018 to 59 per cent in February 2020.
“The issue (allies deserting Khan) has created deep divisions within the government as Prime Minister Imran Khan has sidelined one of his key advisers, Jahangir Tareen, after his role in the wheat crisis was proved recently. Tareen, who has been credited with managing the ruling party’s political alliances, has not only fled the country, but has also left a vacuum to fill in the government. In the absence of Tareen, no one could effectively reach out and satisfy the government’s political allies,” the article notes.
Now after some weak efforts to deal with the pandemic, Pakistan’s citizenry has broadly been left to itself to deal with the virus. The country has over Covid 1.9 cases and 3,962 deaths.
Will Beijing outbreak cost Xi’s protégé his political career?
Cai Qi, the secretary of Beijing’s Communist Party division, outranks the mayor and has been spearheading the response against the new Covid-19 outbreak in the city, reports the Straits Times. Cai is considered by many as President Xi Jinping’s protégé. Could this outbreak potentially cost him his political career?
Beijing has had only 269 cases since the outbreak was reported on 11 June, and recorded on 13 new infections Thursday. Many Chinese analysts point to how to how Cai’s decisive and swift response has helped contain the outbreak and he should continue to be politically safe.
“He (Cai) is a protege of President Xi Jinping, who doubles as party and military chief,” notes the report. “The two men’s (Xi and Cai) political careers overlapped in the south-eastern province of Fujian in the 1990s. Mr Cai followed Mr Xi to the eastern province of Zhejiang in the 2000s, and was the President’s right-hand man at the National Security Commission from 2014 to 2016.”
Soon after Cai became Beijing’s mayor in 2016 and was admitted to the 25-member national politburo – making him one of the most powerful men in the country.
How Covid is jeopardizing Africa’s scarce force of doctors
As the number of coronavirus cases has risen by three times in Africa over the past month, it is having a detrimental effect on the continent’s stretched medical teams, reports Washington Post.
“African health officials and medical professionals are raising concerns about cracks in a crucial armor: Infections among health-care workers have shot up 203 percent since late May, according to the World Health Organization’s Africa arm, following a spike in community transmission and a drop in access to protective gear,” notes the report.
“African nations, on average, have far fewer staffers who can fill in on the front lines. The sub-Saharan region has 0.2 doctors for every 1,000 people, according to World Bank data — well below the world average of 1.6. (North America has 2.6, and the European Union has 3.7),” it adds.
Cases rise as Tokyo prepares for elections
A month after Japan eased its national state of emergency and a week since its domestic travel restrictions were lifted, the country recorded 48 new Covid-19 cases Thursday, reports the Straits Times.
“Forty per cent of these new cases have unknown routes of transmission, while a majority are in their 20s and 30s and either work or have visited nightlife establishments,” notes the report.
Now there are 103 active cases in Tokyo, the highest over the past month and a half. But as Tokyo continues to grapple with new infections, this would likely emerge as an electoral issue during the upcoming gubernatorial elections on 5 July.
The Covid surge that Texas could have stopped but didn’t
Texas has been one of the US states that has had to pause its reopening as the number of new infections continue to overwhelm the state’s administration.
Could the state government have seen the crisis coming and done things to avert it? A new long read in the New Yorker looks at how “in the weeks leading up to the state’s reopening, there were plenty of signs, but not the will to read them”.
What else we are reading:
How Arizona ‘lost control of the epidemic’: Washington Post
Coronavirus: Lockdown Iran: Al Jazeera
How the virus won: The New York Times
Russian Criminal Group Finds New Target: Americans Working at Home: The New York Times
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