Roundup #202

New Events

Covid-19 Dashboard: over 3.1 million cases, 227k deaths – Johns HopkinsNYT Tracker 
… up from >2.6M known cases, >186k known deaths – Johns HopkinsNYT 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 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 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

#Afghanistan
“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

#India

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

#Nepal
Mass animal sacrifice in the name of God persists – Link
Learning from disaster, Nepal copes with coronavirus 5 years after earthquake – Link

#Bangladesh
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
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

#Koreas
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