Roundup 202

May 1, 2020

New Events

Covid-19 Dashboard: over 3.1 million cases, 227k deaths - Johns Hopkins, NYT Tracker … up from >2.6M known cases, >186k known deaths - Johns Hopkins, NYT Tracker … up from >2M known cases, >143k deaths the Friday-before … WHO estimates global crude fatality rate at 3.4% - Link

North Africa / Egypt / Sudan (266m)

As pandemic encroaches on Abyei, gensions rise over disputed territory - Link … deployment of police units has been delayed due to virus travel restrictions

Sudan: virus could be the tipping point to ‘untold suffering' - Link … “health system simply not equipped to handle an outbreak on the scale we have seen elsewhere”

Sudan outlaws female genital mutilation - Link … “but some warn that laws alone cannot outlaw the practice”

Libya’s eastern forces will cease-fire for Ramadan - Link … after suffering setbacks during weeks of intense fighting

East Africa / Horn / Ethiopia / Somalia (520m)

How do you fight a locust invasion amid a pandemic? Link … younger, more aggressive swarms hatching, spread across the region … swarms 20x bigger than first invasion, could be 400x bigger in June

The Somali community in London has been hard hit by the virus - Link … many of them have lost jobs and livelihoods … many can no longer send home the remittances that Somali families in Somalia depend on … Somalis normally send home $1 billion in remittances yearly, more than aid to Somalia

West Africa / Nigeria / Sahel (457m)

Nigeria to ease restrictions in Lagos, Abuja, Ogun states - Link … “number of cases continues to rise”

Nigeria’s governors seek to make face masks compulsory in public - Link

School closures have damaged children across West Africa - Link … Closures in Sierra Leone 2014-15 during Ebola epidemic, and now again 6 years later … Child labor and sexual exploitation increase without school

Nigeria’s unprecedented censure of China - Link … “calls for nationwide audit of status of every Chinese national in Nigeria” … “forceful denunciation of Chinese government by Nigerian elites”

South & Middle Africa (275m)

South Africa beginning phased ease of lockdown - Link

West Asia / Gulf / Saudi / Turkey / Iran / Iraq (303m)

Middle East economies take massive hit with oil price crash - Link … “reverberating across the region … at a time when faced with explosive social unrest …”

Saudi malls fill as kingdom eases coronavirus closures - Link … “public venues where social distancing is difficult remain closed”

Bomb blast kills 40 people in Syria’s Afrin - Link … Turkey blamed it on the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia

UAE says it has tested more than 1 million people - Link

As fighting surges in Yemen, country hit with first cluster of virus infections - Link

Yemen’s “war within war” - Link … “a declaration of self-rule by Yemeni separatists complicates Saudis efforts to withdraw”

Iran arrests 3,600 for ‘spreading coronavirus-related rumors' - Link

Lebanon: hungry protesters are back on the streets - Link … 75% of Lebanese need aid after coronavirus

Living in despair: Coronavirus trapping domestic workers in “virtual slavery” - Link … “imperiled hundreds of thousands of migrant laborers throughout the world” … “No good options” for migrant workers in Gulf Covid-19 lockdown - Link

Central Asia / Caucasus (78m)

US Religious Freedom report signals improvements in Uzbekistan - Link … “recommended Uzb. not be deemed a ‘country of particular concern'”

It officially has no coronavirus cases, but Tajikistan behaves like it’s fighting a pandemic - Link … but, then … “Tajikistan finally confirms first cases of coronavirus” - Link

South Asia / Pakistan / India / Bangladesh (2,040m)


Pakistani markets reopen, few wear masks (video) - Link


“This hospital needs to be quarantined”, but country is at war - Link … 20% of staff at one hospital are quarantined, but doors remain open

Afghans must choose between sickness and starvation - Link … “millions of poverty-stricken families face a similar dilemma” … and, “Should I buy a mask or food”: South Asia’s stark choice - Link

How women fare under Taliban rule - Link

Taliban constitution offers glimpse into militant group’s vision for Afghanistan - Link

Kabul: food prices rise 20% to 30% in past two months - Link


A nation on pause: coronavirus in India - Link … great longread from 1843 Magazine

Unified in lockdown, India splinters over reopening - Link … once-broad consensus on how to proceed has weakened, many staying home anyway

India allows small shops to reopen - Link … “only half the staff could work, must practice social distancing”

Uttar Pradesh seals Covid-19 hotspots in 15 districts, makes masks mandatory - Link

Millions of stranded migrants can return to their home states - Link … “facilitated by states … screened for symptoms at source, destination … quarantined …” … first train carrying 1,000 migrants leaves from Telangana for Jharkand - Link

Known cases in India rises to 30,000 – Link

Frequent hand washing isn’t possible for millions of Indians - Link … 800 million Indians face high to extreme water stress (unavailability) … 70% of the surface water resources are contaminated … 82% of rural households, 60% of urban households don’t have piped water … Many who cannot leave their house under lockdown, cannot access water


Mass animal sacrifice in the name of God persists - Link

Learning from disaster, Nepal copes with coronavirus 5 years after earthquake - Link


The Covid-19 catastrophe in Bangladesh - Link … social distancing is anathema to the culture, impossible in dense residential areas … testing is far too small to have a good view of the spread of the virus … gatherings for major religious events around Ramadan could be a vector

Hundreds of doctors have been infected with coronavirus - Link

Garment factories re-open after a month-long shutdown - Link

East Asia / China / Taiwan / Korea / Japan (1,677m)


China installing surveillance cameras outside of homes—and sometimes inside - Link … enforcing mandatory two-week quarantines for traveling expatriates

China’s factories are back, but it’s consumers aren’t - Link … job losses, pay cuts have left its people reluctant to spend, a problem soon faced elsewhere

China’s economic woes could be worse as legions of migrant workers return home - Link


What comes next for North Korea – may be jumping the gun a bit, but Link … the succession, if it is needed, may get … messy

A brief history of North Korean officials disappearing, and reappearing - Link … South Korea says rumors of Kim Jong Un illness are wrong - Link

Scenarios for what nations would do for a transition - Link

South Korea’s big churches reopen with designated seats, size limits - Link … halls with capacity for 3,000 limited to 700 … worshippers must wear masks

Apparently, tests in recovered patients found false positives, not reinfections - Link

Southeast Asia (700m)

After aggressive testing, Vietnam says it has contained the virus outbreak - Link

In the Mekong, a confluence of calamities - Link … prolonged, severe drought + Chinese dams keep back water + virus

No rural refuge for Covid-19 unemployed Thais - Link … “Thais dislocated by 1997-98 Asian financial crisis found relief in rural economy” … “No longer an option”

Europe / North America (1,125m)

Russia’s total cases extend past 100,000 - Link … “medical facilities one of the main breeding grounds for the virus” - Link … “two dozen hospitals have had to shut down for long quarantines”

Russia extends entry ban for foreigners over pandemic - Link … “until Russia has the virus under control”

Russia cuts off wheat, other grain exports - Link … shrugging off warnings from international orgs asking not to disrupt global food supply chains

Germany easing lockdown restrictions - Link

Slovenia eases restrictions as coronavirus curbed - Link

“I could be one of them” – Belgians help migrants amidsts coronavirus - LInk

Few Americans say their house of worship is open, but Link … a quarter say their faith has grown amid pandemic

New Data

Half the world’s workers “at immediate risk of losing livelihood due to coronavirus” - Link … 3.3 billion total global working population … 2 billion in the “informal economy”, 60% collapse of their wages … 1.6 billion people in immediate danger of having their livelihoods destroyed

US 2020 annual report on religious freedom released - Link

For the first time since 1998, global poverty will increase - Link … by the end of the year, 8% (0.5 billion) could be pushed into poverty … Sub-Saharan Africa could see worst economy in 40 years

New Longreads

How past pandemics & plagues have shaped human history - Link … An interesting collection of articles from Pocket

Under the cover of coronavirus, governments punish adversaries, reward friends - Link

The “terrible, moral choice” of reopening - Link … looks at the reopening measures in Europe, and the challenges involved

As Ramadan starts, Muslims (mostly) accede to pandemic orders - Link … images from around the world: a Ramadan like no other - Link

Asia’s mosques deserted as coronavirus keeps Ramadan faithful away - Link

Digital pilgrimages allow the faithful to travel the world from their couches - Link

What African countries are doing to help people eat amid the lockdowns - Link … cash transfers, food handouts, it’s a difficult task

From Dhaka to Gaza: how do you socially distance in a crowd? Link … “average home of less than 120 square feet … easier said than done …”

Pandemic is getting the “total attention” of the Gates Foundation - Link

“Travel bubbles” are how the world will get moving again - Link … but they could lead to some places being cut off? … want to join my Bubble? What your future social life could be like - Link

“My world is shattering”: Foreign students stranded by coronavirus - Link

What life in a war zone [Afghanistan] teaches about surviving a pandemic - Link

What a world with immunity certificates required for work, travel might look like - Link … lest you think it’s impossible, it happened in New Orleans in the 1800s

New Technology

I don’t think you should use Facebook’s Zoom competitor, Messenger Rooms. Here’s why.

I have been experimenting with Cisco’s Webex platform. It’s pretty good but the audio seems from time to time to be glitchy.

Google’s “Meet” announcement caught my eye. Link … I’m very happy, generally, with Gmail’s security provisions, and this seems to be similar. … Meet is adding about 3 million new users per day – some unhappy Zoomers? - Link

‘Zoom’ fatigue is taxing the brain: here’s why it happens - Link … the science applies to any teleconferencing app

China trialing e-RMB, first state-run digital currency - Link

For a billion Indians, the government’s contact-tracing app could become mandatory - Link