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Pandemic drives Scotland’s independence demand, Wuhan hosts pool parties & 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 2.20 crore cases and more than 7.77 lakh deaths.

Younger populations are now emerging as the key agents driving the transmission of the virus. The pandemic is driving Scotland’s independence demands. South Africans celebrate the lift on alcohol and cigarette sales and Wuhan has gone from being the world’s first hotspot to now hosting massive pool parties.

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

Young people are the main spreaders: WHO

The World Health Organization has come out with a warning that young people across several countries are emerging as the primary drivers of the spread of Covid-19, reports The Washington Post. This is especially worrying as many countries are now beginning to reopen schools and colleges, which could further exacerbate transmission.

“More than half of confirmed infections in Australia and the Philippines in recent weeks have been in people younger than 40, WHO officials said, a stark contrast to predominantly older patients from the previous months. In Japan, 65 percent of recent infections occurred in people below age 40,” says the report.

Pandemic has altered where people spend their money

Weeks after lockdown ended in the US, people are still reluctant to visit restaurants, malls and other places — pointing to a shift in behaviour that could derail economic recovery in the country, reports The New York Times.

“Through the end of last week, daily visits to businesses were down 20 percent from last year, according to a New York Times analysis of foot traffic data from the smartphones of more than 15 million people. After an initial plunge in the spring, consumer habits have been slow to recover, the data shows,” notes the report.

“How people spend will determine which companies survive, and who ultimately keep their jobs. Continued weakness at brick-and-mortar stores has enormous implications for an economy that has had years of gains wiped away in the months since the pandemic hit. The disparities in how people shop hint at a prolonged, uncertain and uneven recovery,” it adds.

Race to investigate Covid outbreak at Alabama school

After the Lovett School, a private K-12 institution in Atlanta, held a graduation ceremony, it soon became a major coronavirus super-spreader event — and a race to investigate it has ensued. A long read in The New Yorker looks at what investigating an outbreak and contact tracing in the US looks like. Moreover, it looks at the kind of media frenzy such investigations into an outbreak can soon morph into.

After the story of the outbreak spread, “a local TV station, Channel 11, reported the existence of what would soon be called the Lovett cluster. The Journal-Constitution story appeared shortly afterward, as did other local stories. The father who drove his son around at the parade told me that his son got calls from reporters with The Washington Post and CNN. Other families did, too. Some students were contacted by journalists through direct messages on Twitter. The dad blamed Lovett for the media coverage,” notes the report.

Also read: Why US-China tensions will continue to mount during Trump’s re-election bid

How pandemic emboldened Scotland’s independence drive

Long before the coronavirus pandemic had arrived, Brexit and other recurring concerns had been strengthening Scotland’s drive towards independence from the United Kingdom. But Scotland’s successful handling of the virus relative to the disastrous response by its English counterpart has exacerbated the independence drive, reports the Financial Times.

“Just six years after Scotland voted No to independence, opinion polls suggest that if a second referendum on the issue was held, a majority would now back leaving the UK,” says the report. “Brexit’s unpopularity in Scotland and a widespread perception among voters that Edinburgh has responded better to Covid-19 than London appears to be tipping the balance toward a separation that would strip the UK of a third of its landmass and 8 per cent of its population.”

These developments have sent shockwaves in London’s Conservative Party establishment.

Depression doubles in British adults 

The number of British adults with depression has doubled since the pandemic engulfed the country, according to official data, reports The Guardian.

“Almost one in five (19.2%) people experienced depression in June, almost double the 9.7% with symptoms in the nine months to March, according to a survey of 3,500 participants by the Office for National Statistics (ONS),” says the report. “Younger adults, women, key workers and disabled people were among those most likely to suffer depression during the pandemic, as were those in households unable to afford an unexpected expense, according to the ONS.”

South Africans celebrate lifting of ban of alcohol, cigarettes

As the ban of cigarettes and alcohol was lifted across South Africa, cheering residents all around the country were seen patiently queueing up outside stores, reports The Guardian.

The country banned alcohol and cigarette sales in March, and except for a brief period in June when the ban was lifted, residents have not been able to buy either. This has prompted many to talk about the unaddressed issue of alcoholism in South Africa.

“The ban was justified as necessary to prevent gatherings that would accelerate the spread of the virus, and to protect the overstretched health service, which otherwise would have to deal with high levels of alcohol-related attacks, injuries and illnesses. Ministers also said the practice of sharing cigarettes posed a significant risk,” says the report.

Also read: Russia’s Sputnik launch raises risks in the rush for Covid vaccine

Wuhan — from original hotspot to pool parties

Thousands recently gathered together in Wuhan during a swimming pool party — marking the city’s complete transition from the first Covid-19 hotspot to a city now apparently back to normal, reports the BBC.

“Pictures of party-goers at the Wuhan Maya Beach Water Park — looking very much removed from the outbreak that the rest of the world continues to battle — have now gone, well, viral,” notes the report. “It’s worlds apart from the images that came out of Wuhan when it had the world’s first Covid-19 lockdown in January — a ghost town devoid of residents and vehicles.”

Asian stocks rally after Wall Street’s record surge

Asian stocks surged to a seven-month high following the US’ S&P 500 touching an all-time high on the back of the American government’s expansive stimulus package, reports The Straits Times.

“MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside of Japan rose 0.3 per cent, up for a third straight day to 570.80 points, a level not seen since late January. The gains were driven by Australian shares, up 0.8 per cent and South Korea, which added 0.6 per cent. Japan’s Nikkei nudged up too though Chinese shares started weaker with the blue-chip CSI300 index off 0.7 per cent,” details the report.

What else we are reading:

Seoul’s churches, nightlife shut after Covid cluster among anti-government congregation: The Washington Post

Australian PM wants the vaccine to be mandatory: BBC

Also read: Ardern delays New Zealand election by four weeks to 17 October


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