The World This Week

Our editors give us a breakdown of this week’s biggest news stories

United Kingdom: Ryan Morrice 

Captain Tom Moore raised £26 million for NHS charities by walking 100 lengths of his garden before he turned 100 years old.

The UK lockdown has been extended for another three weeks. Nicola Sturgeon said that Scotland may diverge from the rest of the UK in terms of its lockdown exit strategy.

It was revealed that Boris Johnson had missed five emergency Cobra meetings in the beginnings of the coronavirus crisis.

NHS staff in England have been asked to reuse gowns and other protective equipment when treating coronavirus patients, as stocks of PPE run out. A delivery to replenish stocks has also been delayed, leaving English NHS staff at further risk.

A leaked Labour report has added to the factional infighting within the party. The report concludes that efforts to tackle antisemitism were hampered by hostility to Jeremy Corbyn. The party’s finances are now in peril as over a dozen people are reported to be drawing up legal action because they were named in the report.

Europe: Lucy Wright

In Spain, the coronavirus lockdown has been prolonged until next month at least, as Prime Minister Sánchez says May will be the beginning of a slow transition to normality. Spain, where the coronavirus death toll passed 20,000 on Saturday, is one of the countries worst hit by the pandemic. The country also has one of the toughest lockdown policies; the Prime Minister is planning to allow children out of their homes after six weeks in confinement. 

Meanwhile, in Germany, authorities are to crack down on coronavirus-related fraud, as evidence appears to show scam artists hijacking the country’s generous aid programme for businesses hit by the pandemic. 

In more positive news, Greece has relocated the first twelve unaccompanied migrant children to Luxembourg. Greece plans to relocate about 1,600 vulnerable children to other European countries that have volunteered to host them, amid the coronavirus outbreak, as advocacy groups have argued that leaving vulnerable minors in the camps heightens the risk of them contracting Covid-19. The children were greeted by Luxembourg’s foreign minister at the airport. Lets hope that other countries soon follow Luxembourg’s example.

Africa: Camille Capelle

In this past week, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases on the continent surpassed 20,000 with countries like South Africa, Egypt, Morocco, and Algeria suffering the most so far.  

As many African economies seek more financial aid in this time of crisis, the G20 has decided to suspend loan repayments of the lowest-income countries. However, this is far from what is needed to adequately address the disparities standing in the way of an organized and effective response to the crisis. Critics have pointed out that many middle-income countries are also facing acute issues due to the pandemic and have not received any such help. 

There is hope that some African countries will be able to make up for what they lack in health infrastructure with their practical experiences from dealing with other health threats. African scientists have suggested a modification of systems used to combat tuberculosis and polio, showing how their familiarity with managing health crises using limited resources could work to their advantage. Despite this, material resources used for testing and treatment still pose a vital obstacle in the battle against COVID-19 on the African continent. 

Americas: Lucy Wright 

In the United States, Conservative activists have taken to the streets to protest against the lockdowns imposed to stop the spread of coronavirus, arguing that the restrictions violate their civil rights and threaten their ability to earn a living. This video by Guardian News captures armed protesters demanding an end to Michigan’s coronavirus lockdown orders. While the unrest so far has only involved a relatively small number of people in states including Minnesota, Michigan, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Florida, it comes as the US president has raised expectations for a lifting of restrictions. Trump took to Twitter to support the protests on Friday, writing “LIBERATE MINNESOTA,” “LIBERATE MICHIGAN”, referring in both cases to Midwestern states where protesters have taken aim at restrictions ordered by Democratic governors.

Meanwhile, in Brazil, far-right President Bolsonaro has been seen to be defying the social distancing rules recommended by his own health officials. Health minister, Luiz Henrique Mandetta, a doctor who had spearheaded the measures to tackle Covid-19, pushed back on what many see as the anti-science approach of the president, while expressing concerns that Brazilians “don’t know whether to listen to the health minister or to the president”. He was fired this Thursday. There are major concerns about the economic situation in Brazil. The economy was yet to recover from a sharp recession in 2015-16. With public finances already under serious pressure, the Financial Times suggests that “mounting a fiscal response to the decline in the demand will create even greater strain”.

Asia: Max Dowden

This week, South Korean President Moon Jae-In’s ruling Democratic Party achieved a landslide victory in the country’s elections. Despite concerns over going ahead with the vote in the context of the pandemic, public safety procedures seem to have been effective and allowed the country to successfully go to the polls. Following the victory, President Moon has announced a sweeping proposal for a South Korean ‘Green New Deal’ aimed at weaning the country off of fossil fuels within a decade. 

Meanwhile, the situation in Japan has been decidedly less optimistic, with a resurgent outbreak in Hokkaido forcing the second regional lockdown in two months. 

In Sri Lanka, the country-wide closure of bars and restaurants in response to the COVID crisis has led to an uptick in home-brewed moonshine among the population, with ensuing shortages of major palm-wine ingredients like dates and jaggery. 

Finally, an ‘unprecedented’ report by the International Monetary Fund has suggested that Asia as a whole will not grow at all in 2020 due to virus-related lockdowns, marking the first continent-wide annual stagnation in decades. The report will no doubt add increasing pressure on governments to open national economies back up as soon as it seems the virus may be abating.

Image Source:  Joshua A Bickel/AP

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