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South Korea faces major outbreak, Bolsonaro’s popularity rises & other global 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 above 2.38 crore cases and more than 8.17 lakh deaths.

A debate has ensued in the US regarding which communities should be the first to get the potential Covid-19 vaccine. In Brazil, the pandemic has eroded much of the country, but not President Jair Bolsonaro’s popularity. German researchers hold an indoor concert. And officials in South Korea fear a nationwide virus outbreak.

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

US debates who should get vaccine first

As most health experts in the US argue that the poor and minority communities should be the first to receive a Covid-19 vaccine, it has sparked a debate in the country, reports the Financial Times.

“When deciding who gets the vaccine first, we want to think about who is most likely to be affected by death and severe illness; we want to think about how the virus is being transmitted; and we want to think about issues of equality,” said Helene Gayle, who heads the country’s vaccine distribution programme.

Coronavirus has wrecked Brazil, not Bolsonaro’s popularity

Brazil, with over 36 lakh cases and 1,14,000 deaths, is the world’s second-worst pandemic-hit country, and yet President Jair Bolsoanro continues to enjoy popularity, reports The Washington Post.

“An economic collapse he failed to forestall has driven the unemployment rate to 14 percent. He has been abandoned by allies, pilloried by emboldened critics and ensnared by several corruption scandals,” notes the report.

And yet, Bolsonaro is more popular than anytime since he was elected. “In the past two months, as the novel coronavirus gutted Brazil, his approval has risen from 32 to 37 percent, according to the polling service Datafolha. Disapproval has dropped from 44 percent to 34 percent,” adds the report.

Also read: US FDA rows back on plasma therapy, says it doesn’t give dramatic benefit to Covid patients

German researchers attend an indoor concert as an experiment

After months, Germany saw its first indoor concert, with around 1,400 attendees, but there was a twist, reports The Washington Post.

“The 1,400 or so people who attended the concert, one of the largest indoor gatherings in Germany in months, were not breaking any rules. In fact, they were the subjects of a study by researchers at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, a public institution, to gather data on crowded indoor events during the coronavirus pandemic,” says the report.

China’s tech giants struggle in post-Covid world

Chinese tech giants had emerged as strong competitors to their US counterparts, but then the coronavirus arrived, and the world started blaming China for the pandemic, severely restricting future options for the country’s corporations, reports the Financial Times.

“The challenges these companies face are not so much about their ability to execute on their strategies, but the extent to which they are victims of politics. Outside China, the likes of Tencent and Alibaba are increasingly constrained by rising tensions between governments,” says the report.

But it’s not just the global backlash. Inside China, once corporations cross a certain threshold, the ruling party begins to look at them with certain caution, bringing them under the scanner, experts say.

South Korea on brink of nationwide breakout

For the longest time, South Korea was hailed as the ideal model for responding to the pandemic. Now an outbreak that originated at a right-wing Presbyterian church has spread to 17 of the country’s provinces, reports the BBC.

“The majority of new cases are all close to the heavily populated capital city which is home to more than 10 million people. And one of the biggest concerns is that many of the far-right worshippers who are potentially infected believe the virus was planted as part of a conspiracy to close it down. Many are refusing to be contacted, let alone tested,” says the report.

Also read: US-China tensions enter American courtroom as TikTok sues Trump over ban

Japan promotes ‘workations’ to boost tourism

Many companies in Japan are being encouraged to promote the concept of “workations” to boost the country’s ailing tourism following the pandemic, reports the Nikkei Asian Review.

“The workation concept has been slowly catching on in Japan, which is notorious for its long working hours and employees who leave unused vacation time on the table. Some prominent companies, including Japan Airlines, have introduced working vacations to encourage employees to take more time off. The idea is to lower their stress and raise their productivity,” notes the report.

The move is being backed by the Japanese government, in a bid to rebuild the country’s tourism economy.

Amid pandemic, Africa celebrates end of wild poliovirus

Africa is all set to announce that after a three-decade campaign, the continent is now free of the wild poliovirus, reports The New York Times.

The wild poliovirus used to infect more than 750,000 kids every year. “The achievement is a major step toward ridding the globe of the virus that causes the disabling — and sometimes deadly — disease of polio: Only Afghanistan and Pakistan are still reporting cases,” says the report.

Having said that, the end of the wild poliovirus doesn’t mean the end of all polio. “Every year, hundreds of people across Africa are still being infected with circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus, which can infect people in areas where there is only partial vaccination,” adds the report.

Kenyan schools turn into chicken coops

Reacting to the suspension of schools, Kenyan school owners are increasingly adopting unconventional ways to make their vacant properties slightly profitable, reports the BBC.

“The classrooms at Mwea Brethren School, which once resonated to the sound of children learning, are now filled with a cacophony of clucking chickens. On the chalkboard, maths equations have been replaced by a vaccination schedule,” notes the report. The school’s owner no longer receives income from providing an education.

“In order to avoid taking this drastic measure, Roka Preparatory, another school in central Kenya, has also converted its premises into a farm,” adds the report.

What else we are reading:

Trump defends handling of pandemic on first night of convention: Financial Times

In the Brazilian Amazon, a sharp drop in coronavirus sparks questions over collective immunity: The Washington Post

Lockdown generation: COVID-19 upends Asian students’ plans: Nikkei Asian Review

China has been giving potential vaccine to key workers since July: The Guardian

Also read: Why maps are important in our response to the Covid-19 pandemic


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