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In Zimbabwe, 'you win coronavirus or you win starvation'

In Zimbabwe, 'you win coronavirus or you win starvation'The World Health Organization's recommended virus precautions seem far-fetched for many of Zimbabwe's 15 million people. Last year a United Nations expert called the number of hungry people in Zimbabwe “shocking” for a country not in conflict. Harare, like most cities and towns across Zimbabwe, has an acute water shortage and residents at times go for months, even years, without a working tap.


Blissful ignorance? Submariners likely unaware of pandemic

Blissful ignorance? Submariners likely unaware of pandemicOf a world in coronavirus turmoil, they may know little or nothing. Submariners stealthily cruising the ocean deeps, purposefully shielded from worldly worries to encourage undivided focus on their top-secret missions of nuclear deterrence, may be among the last pockets of people anywhere who are still blissfully unaware of how the pandemic is turning life upside down. Mariners aboard ballistic submarines are habitually spared bad news while underwater to avoid undermining their morale, say current and former officers who served aboard France's nuclear-armed subs.


Coronavirus: What the world can learn from Ebola fight

Coronavirus: What the world can learn from Ebola fightLiberia's ex-President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf says the world must conquer fear to deal with coronavirus.


Coronavirus: South Africa reports first deaths as lockdown begins

Coronavirus: South Africa reports first deaths as lockdown beginsThe country's health ministry says cases have passed 1,000, as a three-week lockdown begins.


AP PHOTOS: France's front-line volunteers brave virus risks

AP PHOTOS: France's front-line volunteers brave virus risksThey don't have to put themselves in harm's way, but the volunteers of France's well-known Civil Protection service have chosen the front line in the fight against the coronavirus. The volunteers, all trained, equip themselves for the crisis with protective gowns, head gear, masks and gloves when they head out on a mission, not knowing what they will encounter when the door opens. Teams have been downsized from four to two or a maximum of three volunteers to limit the potential spread of infection.


Europe Gets No Respite From Lockdowns After Deadly Weekend

Europe Gets No Respite From Lockdowns After Deadly Weekend(Bloomberg) -- European officials warned against loosening lockdowns after the coronavirus outbreak claimed more than 3,000 lives in Spain and Italy over the weekend.Strains in health-care systems increased as Spain said its intensive-care wards are stretched beyond capacity and a German public-health leader said the country may face a ventilator shortage. An ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel said public life in Europe’s biggest economy will be restricted for at least several more weeks.With France, Italy and Spain calling for pooled euro-area financial resources to stem the economic cost and Germany opposed, finance ministers are expected to discuss the way forward this week. Yet they can only do so much as governments in Europe’s largest economies implore people to stay home.“We need to reduce mobility and turn all of the days of the week into Sundays,” Spanish Labor Minister Yolanda Diaz said on Sunday. “The premise is that we all stay at home.”Italy, which has the most coronavirus deaths worldwide, reported 756 new fatalities on Sunday. Spain recorded 838, its highest daily number yet. Both countries together have more than five times the deaths reported by China, where the outbreak began.While the pace of fatalities and infections showed signs of leveling off in both countries, officials warned against complacency. Spain said its number of ICU patients surpassed the national capacity of about 4,400 beds, forcing health-care workers to decide whom to treat first.Politicians anxious to relaunch Europe’s economy sought to suggest a timeline for easing. Silvio Brusaferro, the head of Italy’s public health institute, said the most recent figures offer encouraging signs, though any move to reopen the country will be gradual.The country’s current restrictions will likely continue through Easter before authorities assess any relaxation of the rules, Brusaferro said in an interview with Monday’s la Repubblica newspaper. “We need to see an increase in the number of new cases that’s lower than in the previous 24 hours for several consecutive days,” he said.German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier cautioned Sunday “it’s clearly too early” to discuss easing restrictions now. Helge Braun, Merkel’s chief of staff, said the restrictions will likely run at least until April 20, a plan the government will review after the Easter public holiday.European Union countries remained at odds over how best to buttress their economies as the costs of countering the pandemic and supporting workers and companies rise.Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s calls for coordinated EU action, specifically for the issuance of joint debt, have been met with German and Dutch opposition and countries have adopted their own bailout plans.Deputy Finance Minister Laura Castelli told La Stampa the Italian government’s aid package could increase to as much as 100 billion euros ($111 billion). That compares with 750 billion euros mobilized by Germany and 300 billion euros by France.More than 200,000 French businesses have applied for assistance to keep 2.2 million workers on the payroll during the virus-induced lockdown, Labor Minister Muriel Penicaud said.Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced tighter restrictions on movement over the weekend, ordering those who work in non-essential services to stay home during the Easter period. Companies must still pay employees in full and workers will have to make up the hours by the end of the year.U.K. LockdownIn the U.K., restrictions — for now a three-week lockdown with schools and many businesses closed — could last for a “significant” period, Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove indicated on Sunday. U.K. coronavirus deaths increased to 1,228 with 19,522 confirmed cases.A key question for EU countries is gauging the success of quarantine measures. France, where the Covid-19 virus has killed more than 2,600 people, is looking at the number of patients in intensive care.“If there has been less contact between people thanks to the confinement,” Director-General of Health Jerome Salomon said Sunday, “we should start to see a reduction in the number of new cases requiring intensive care each day.”(Updates with Italian health authority comments from seventh paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.


Fearing Gaza virus spread, Hamas preps for mass quarantines

Fearing Gaza virus spread, Hamas preps for mass quarantinesWhen Nima Amraa returned to the Gaza Strip from neighboring Egypt earlier this month, she was surprised to learn she was being placed in a makeshift quarantine center set up by the ruling Hamas group. “Once there were cases of the virus spreading, we started to feel afraid and disappointed,” Amraa, a 30-year-old journalist, said by phone from quarantine, where she has spent a week and a half sleeping in a room with five other women and sharing a bathroom. The virus found a way into Gaza, even though the Mediterranean enclave has been largely cut off from the world by an Israeli-Egyptian blockade since Hamas militants seized it 13 years ago.


Prisoners riot in Iran, region's worst virus outbreak

Prisoners riot in Iran, region's worst virus outbreakPrisoners in southern Iran broke cameras and caused other damage during a riot, state media reported Monday, the latest in a series of violent prison disturbances in the country, which is battling the most severe coronavirus outbreak in the Middle East. Iran had temporarily released around 100,000 prisoners as part of measures taken to contain the pandemic, leaving an estimated 50,000 people behind bars, including violent offenders and so-called “security cases,” often dual nationals and others with Western ties. Families of detainees and Western nations say Iran is holding those prisoners for political reasons or to use them as bargaining chips in negotiations.


What to know about the coronavirus numbers in New York

What to know about the coronavirus numbers in New YorkThe official statistics reported by health authorities would seem to show that the United States has more coronavirus infections than any other country and that the New York caseloads exceed any other state. Reporting and testing vary so much from country to country and state to state that it's hard to know the exact size of the outbreaks, and that is especially the case in New York. In the U.S., New York has about 45% of the nation's more than 125,000 cases, according to statistics posted Sunday by Johns Hopkins University researchers tracking global coronavirus trends.


Grandma is gone: Coronavirus keeps kids from older family

Grandma is gone: Coronavirus keeps kids from older familyA few weeks ago, Debbie Cameron saw her grandsons most days, playing the piano, making after-school snacks or singing nursery rhymes with the baby in her Chandler, Arizona, home. Cameron is 68 and has asthma, making her one of the people most at risk of getting seriously ill or dying. Now she sees her grandchildren from behind the glass of a window or a phone screen.


Coronavirus response highlights deepening partisan divide

Coronavirus response highlights deepening partisan divideIn Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti has instituted a shutdown on a city of nearly 4 million people and threatened uncooperative business owners with power shutoffs and arrest. In Mississippi, home to nearly 3 million people, Gov. Tate Reeves has allowed most businesses to stay open — even restaurants, so long as they serve no more than 10 people at a time. The divergent approaches are evidence that not even a global pandemic can bridge the gaping political divisions of the Trump era.


Kremlin Fights U.S. Sanctions, Backs Maduro in Rosneft Deal

Kremlin Fights U.S. Sanctions, Backs Maduro in Rosneft Deal(Bloomberg) -- The Kremlin’s sudden shift of ownership of multi-billion-dollar oil projects in Venezuela shields oil giant Rosneft PJSC from further U.S. sanctions but keeps Moscow firmly behind embattled President Nicolas Maduro amid a wider stand-off with Washington.“Russia is not walking away from Maduro and will seek to thwart U.S. efforts to depose him,” said Vladimir Frolov, a former diplomat and foreign policy analyst in Moscow. “Moscow is just shielding Rosneft from sanctions which could result in a blanket embargo on all Rosneft exports.”Fears of broader sanctions have grown after the U.S. in recent months slapped restrictions on Rosneft trading companies for handling business with Venezuela. More recently, the U.S. has hinted that it might step up pressure on the Russian oil sector to reduce production. That followed Moscow’s decision early this month not to deepen output cuts agreed with OPEC led Saudi Arabia to boost output, flooding the market and pushing prices to the lowest levels in decades.The administration of President Donald Trump has already reached out to Saudi leaders to reconsider their strategy, which has battered producers in the U.S. with low prices.Read: Putin and MBS Draw Trump Into Grudge Match for Oil SupremacyRosneft late Saturday announced it’s turning over its Venezuelan projects to an unnamed state-owned company in what it called an effort to protect its shareholders’ interests. Rosneft, which produces 40% of Russian oil and 5% of world output and has substantial exposure in the western financial system, can’t afford the risk of broad U.S. sanctions that could cripple its operations. Earlier this month, a Chinese company said it wouldn’t buy crude from Rosneft because of the risks caused by the sanctions on the trading companies.“As recently as February, the Venezuelan business was profitable, which offset the sanctions risk,” said Ivan Timofeyev, an analyst at the Kremlin-founded Russian International Affairs Council. “Now the desire to avoid sanctions coincided with the need to avoid losses” after oil prices plunged, he added.The Russian giant has already cut its exposure under multi-billion-dollar prepayment deals reached several years ago. Venezuela’s oil producer PDVSA owes Rosneft only $800 million at the end of the third quarter of 2019, according to the last available data, down from $4.6 billion at the end of 2017.Sanctions ProtectionThe latest Russian maneuver mirrored its strategy in 2018 when it used Promsvzyabank to set up a new banking vehicle to serve the defense industry after state-owned weapons producers came under U.S. sanctions, thereby shielding the country’s two largest banks, government-controlled Sberbank and VTB. Unlike those big lenders, which have significant exposure to western financial institutions and thus are at risk from sweeping U.S. sanctions, the new special entity operated largely out of Washington’s reach.While Rosneft may even push to have the recently imposed sanctions on the trading units lifted, risks remain.“Rosneft is trying to stay out of the firing-line but nothing stops the Americans from finding another pretext to sanction it,” said Fyodor Lukyanov, who heads the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, a research group in Moscow that advises the Kremlin.“Russia understands that Maduro is in an awful situation, especially with oil prices at rock bottom,” he said. “But Putin’s psychology is that you should stick with partners in difficulty.”Maduro said on state TV on Saturday evening that ”President Putin sent me a message through his ambassador reaffirming their strategic and integral support to Venezuela in all areas.”Rosneft StakeFrolov said, “Moscow thinks that Maduro is actually winning the fight with the opposition and is likely to split it to the point where he would be able to win parliamentary elections this year.” Russia has backed Maduro even as the U.S. and its allies back opposition leader Juan Guaido.For Rosneft, the deal also could give management, led by Igor Sechin, its influential chief executive, greater control, since the company is receiving 9.6% of its own shares in the transaction. That may mean the government’s share in Rosneft falls below a controlling stake, according to Andrey Polischuk, Moscow-based analyst for Raiffeisenbank.Neither the company nor the government would comment on whether the deal will bring state ownership below 50%.“Sechin gets Rosneft shares and Putin gets the chance to trade with Trump,” said Konstantin Simonov, head of the National Energy Security Fund in Moscow.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.


Instacart workers seek strike as jobs get busier, riskier

Instacart workers seek strike as jobs get busier, riskierA possible strike by Instacart workers highlights the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the grocery delivery business, where workers are worried about their safety as they try to meet a surge in demand for online groceries. Instacart said Sunday it would soon provide workers with a new hand sanitizer upon request and outlined changes to its tip system.


Serial killer dubbed Grim Sleeper dies in California prison

Serial killer dubbed Grim Sleeper dies in California prisonLonnie Franklin, the convicted serial killer known as the "Grim Sleeper" who preyed on the women of South Los Angeles for more than two decades, has died in prison. California corrections officials said Franklin was found unresponsive in his cell at San Quentin State Prison on Saturday evening. An autopsy will determine the cause of death; however, there were no signs of trauma, corrections spokeswoman Terry Thornton said in a statement.


'Officers are scared out there': Coronavirus hits US police

'Officers are scared out there': Coronavirus hits US policeMore than a fifth of Detroit's police force is quarantined; two officers have died from coronavirus and at least 39 have tested positive, including the chief of police. An increasing number of police departments around the country are watching their ranks get sick as the number of coronavirus cases explodes across the U.S. The growing tally raises questions about how laws can and should be enforced during the pandemic, and about how departments will hold up as the virus spreads among those whose work puts them at increased risk of infection. “I don’t think it’s too far to say that officers are scared out there,” said Sgt. Manny Ramirez, president of Fort Worth Police Officers Association.


Fit, healthy 33-year-old recounts falling ill to coronavirus

Fit, healthy 33-year-old recounts falling ill to coronavirusAndrea Napoli didn’t fit the usual profile of a coronavirus patient. At 33, he was in perfect health, with no history of respiratory disease. Until that day, Napoli was following his routine of work, jogging and swimming.


What you need to know today about the virus outbreak

What you need to know today about the virus outbreakPresident Donald Trump on Sunday extended the country's voluntary national shutdown for a month, significantly changing his tone on the coronavirus pandemic only days after musing about the country reopening in a few weeks. COVID-19 continues its relentless spread, as the daily number of infections worldwide continues to jump sharply. World Health Organization figures show the increase in new infections is now about 70,000 per day - up from about 50,000 just days ago.


Saudi intercepts Huthi missiles over curfew-locked Riyadh, border city

Saudi intercepts Huthi missiles over curfew-locked Riyadh, border citySaudi air defences intercepted Yemeni rebel missiles over Riyadh and a city on the Yemen border, leaving two civilians wounded in the curfew-locked capital amid efforts to combat coronavirus, state media said Sunday. Multiple explosions shook Riyadh late Saturday in the first major assault on Saudi Arabia since the Huthi rebels offered last September to halt attacks on the kingdom after devastating twin strikes on Saudi oil installations. The Iran-aligned insurgents claimed responsibility around 15 hours after the attacks, with a rebel spokesman calling it "the largest operation of its kind" as the Riyadh-led military intervention in Yemen enters its sixth year.


In virus times, have Americans found a shared experience?

In virus times, have Americans found a shared experience?As an uneasy March unspooled, as coronavirus dread descended upon the United States, it became commonplace — and, for public figures, quite practical — to point out how, unlike most major events in the 21st century, this was an unusually communal moment. For the homeless, living out a “quarantine” on the street is hardly a unifying moment.


Biden says Trump's rising approval ratings are 'a typical American response' to crisis

Biden says Trump's rising approval ratings are 'a typical American response' to crisisFormer Vice President Joe Biden isn't surprised by President Trump's rising approval ratings, even as many argue his administration is floundering in their efforts to respond to the novel coronavirus crisis.Biden said the American public typically rallies around the president during times of crisis, going all the back to former President Jimmy Carter's uptick during the Iran hostage crisis in 1979. Former President George W. Bush is another example — he famously peaked at around 90 percent approval in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, a number which he never came close to again. > WATCH: Former VP @JoeBiden calls the uptick in Trump’s job approval rating “a typical American response.” MTP IfItsSunday> > Biden: “In every single crisis we have had … president’s ratings have always gone up.” pic.twitter.com/WzB4qXjaDY> > — Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) March 29, 2020Biden, who is Trump's most likely challenger in the 2020 general election in November, said he hopes the coronavirus outbreak is under control by then and that the U.S. has "done all the right things," including Trump refraining from attacking people who disagree with him. But he told NBC's Chuck Todd during Sunday's edition of Meet the Press that the "proof is gonna be in the pudding."More stories from theweek.com Once coronavirus infects a human body, what happens next? Joe Biden is the worst imaginable challenger to Trump right now John Krasinski launches YouTube show dedicated to good news, slips in Office mini-reunion with Steve Carell


Largest US dam removal stirs debate over coveted West water

Largest US dam removal stirs debate over coveted West waterThe second-largest river in California has sustained Native American tribes with plentiful salmon for millennia, provided upstream farmers with irrigation water for generations and served as a haven for retirees who built dream homes along its banks. With so many competing demands, the Klamath River has come to symbolize a larger struggle over the increasingly precious water resources of the U.S. West, and who has the biggest claim to them. Now, plans to demolish four hydroelectric dams on the river's lower reaches to save salmon — the largest such demolition project in U.S. history — have placed those competing interests in stark relief.


Legislatures meet remotely, limit public as virus spreads

Legislatures meet remotely, limit public as virus spreadsMembers of the Arkansas House met in a college basketball arena, spaced out among 5,600 seats, as they voted on ways to cover a budget shortfall caused by the coronavirus punch to the economy. When South Dakota lawmakers convene Monday to consider 10 emergency bills, it won't be inside their familiar chambers. “Social distancing” mandates intended to slow the spread of the virus have upended life for millions of Americans and also have led lawmakers to scrap centuries-old rules about the way they conduct work.


Trump extends virus guidelines, braces US for big death toll

Trump extends virus guidelines, braces US for big death tollBracing the nation for a death toll that could exceed 100,000 people, President Donald Trump on Sunday extended restrictive social distancing guidelines through April, bowing to public-health experts who presented him with even more dire projections for the expanding coronavirus pandemic. The initial 15-day period of social distancing urged by the federal government expires Monday and Trump had expressed interest in relaxing the national guidelines at least in parts of the country less afflicted by the pandemic. Trump's impulse to reopen the country met a sober reality check Sunday from Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government's top infectious disease expert, who said the U.S. could experience more than 100,000 deaths and millions of infections from the pandemic.


Age is not the only risk for severe coronavirus disease

Age is not the only risk for severe coronavirus diseaseOlder people remain most at risk of dying as the new coronavirus continues its rampage around the globe, but they’re far from the only ones vulnerable. The majority of people who get COVID-19 have mild or moderate symptoms. In China, 80% of deaths were among people in their 60s or older, and that general trend is playing out elsewhere.


A missing boy and a freezing swamp test tracker's instincts

A missing boy and a freezing swamp test tracker's instinctsAustin Schumacher parked his unmarked squad truck and watched pheasant hunters work their way into the woods under the overcast, late-fall sky. The boy had run away from Edgerton Middle School after a dispute with his teachers — he swore at them before he ducked out of the school and headed into the swamp across the street. Principal Clark Bretthauser tried to follow, but lost him in the mucky underbrush.


Pizzeria borrows to keep workers on job, spurs donations

Pizzeria borrows to keep workers on job, spurs donationsThis is a story about bosses and their workers, in the dark days of COVID-19. Bryan Morin and his brother Michael operate Federico’s Pizza in this Jersey Shore town. Bryan Morin tossed and turned all night after watching news reports of how a virus spread rapidly in Italy, eventually bringing life to a virtual standstill and leading to massive layoffs as businesses closed down.


'Off the charts': Virus hot spots grow in middle America

'Off the charts': Virus hot spots grow in middle AmericaThe coronavirus continued its unrelenting spread across the United States with fatalities doubling in two days and authorities saying Saturday that an infant who tested positive had died. It pummeled big cities like New York, Detroit, New Orleans and Chicago, and made its way, too, into rural America as hotspots erupted in small Midwestern towns and Rocky Mountain ski havens. Worldwide infections surpassed the 660,000 mark with more than 30,000 deaths as new cases also stacked up quickly in Europe, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.


College seniors hurried to squeeze in last school memories

College seniors hurried to squeeze in last school memoriesIt was during Act 1 of the final dress rehearsal for Puccini’s “La Rondine” at the Peabody Conservatory that the school president sent out an email canceling all nonessential gatherings because of the coronavirus pandemic. Cast members quickly messaged friends, who streamed into the theater to catch the remainder of the only performance in the scheduled four-day run. “I've been following the news, and it doesn’t look like (graduation) is going to happen any time soon,” said Endicott College senior Nick Grace, who took a last lap around the silent campus on Boston's North Shore before leaving.


Uganda's Bobi Wine sings against virus, criticizes leaders

Uganda's Bobi Wine sings against virus, criticizes leadersUgandan pop star and opposition leader Bobi Wine, who released a song urging Africa's people to wash their hands to stop the spread of the new coronavirus, is criticizing African governments for not maintaining better health care systems for the continent's 1.3 billion people. In his new song, “Corona Virus Alert,” Wine and collaborator Nubian Li highlight prevention measures against the virus, which now has been reported in at least 46 of Africa's 54 countries. Speaking to The Associated Press about the song, Wine — a popular musician, legislator and presidential aspirant whose real name is Kyagulanyi Ssentamu — said it is time for Africa's leaders to channel more resources toward building functional health care systems that serve both the rich and the poor.


Coronavirus makes it harder for campaigns to ask for money

Coronavirus makes it harder for campaigns to ask for moneyWith a recession potentially on the horizon, there's a question of whether wealthy donors are in a giving mood and whether grassroots supporters who chip in small amounts will still have the wherewithal to keep at it. “It’s hard to have a conversation with someone right now to ask how they’re getting by, and then ask them for financial support in the next sentence,” said Greg Goddard, a Democratic fundraiser who worked for Amy Klobuchar's presidential campaign before the Minnesota senator dropped out of the Democratic race. The task is particularly acute for Biden.


US-led forces pull out of 3rd Iraqi base this month

US-led forces pull out of 3rd Iraqi base this monthThe U.S.-led coalition in Iraq withdrew Sunday from a military base in the country's north that nearly launched Washington into an open war with neighboring Iran. The K1 Air Base is the third site coalition forces have left this month, in line with U.S. plans to consolidate its troops in two locations in Iraq. The attacks culminated in the U.S.-directed killing of top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani and a senior Iraqi militia leader, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.


Iran warns of lengthy 'new way of life' as virus deaths rise

Iran warns of lengthy 'new way of life'  as virus deaths risePresident Hassan Rouhani warned Sunday that "the new way of life" in Iran was likely to be prolonged, as its declared death toll from the novel coronavirus rose to 2,640. The Islamic republic is one of the countries worst-hit by the virus, which first originated in China. Iran announced its first infection cases on February 19, but a senior health official has acknowledged that the virus was likely to have already reached Iran in January.


Mali goes to the polls despite coronavirus fears

Mali goes to the polls despite coronavirus fearsLong-delayed parliamentary elections are being held a day after the country's first Covid-19 death.


'Merkel is back': virus crisis boosts Germany's centre-right

'Merkel is back': virus crisis boosts Germany's centre-rightAngela Merkel's long-struggling conservatives have rebounded in the polls thanks to the government's handling of the coronavirus crisis and widespread faith in the outgoing German chancellor's ability to manage the upheaval. Shaking off years of record-low popularity, Merkel's centre-right CDU/CSU bloc is now enjoying approval ratings of around 32 to 35 percent, some six to seven points higher than just a few weeks ago. It's a surprise turn of events for Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) which as recently as last month was riven by internal turmoil and debate over who would be the party's chancellor candidate when Merkel bows out in 2021.


In Somalia, coronavirus goes from fairy tale to nightmare

In Somalia, coronavirus goes from fairy tale to nightmareAt first, the coronavirus was just a fairy tale, a rumor along the dusty lanes of the displaced persons’ camp that Habiba Ali calls home. It seemed fantastical: an illness sweeping the world far beyond Somalia’s borders, killing thousands of people and sending some of the richest countries into panic. Then Somalia's first virus case was announced on March 16, and one of the world’s most fragile nations staggered even more.


Iran defends virus response as Syria reports first death

Iran defends virus response as Syria reports first deathIran's president on Sunday lashed out at criticism of authorities' lagging response to the worst coronavirus outbreak in the Middle East, saying the government has to weigh economic concerns as it takes measures to contain the pandemic. Syria meanwhile reported the first fatality from the virus in the war-torn country, which has five confirmed infections. Syria has closed schools, restaurants and nightclubs, and imposed a nighttime curfew last week aimed at preventing the virus' spread.


Russia Claimed It Created a Coronavirus Cure, but It’s an American Malaria Drug

Russia Claimed It Created a Coronavirus Cure, but It’s an American Malaria DrugThe headline of the Russian state media outlet RIA Novosti read, “Russia Created the Treatment for Coronavirus.” The article went on to boast about the remedy based on the drug mefloquine, an antimalarial drug created in fact at the U.S. Army’s Walter Reed Medical Center shortly after the Vietnam War and widely known as Lariam. Fiona Hill: Trump’s Coronavirus Talk Sounds a Lot Like Russia’sMefloquine was created to replace chloroquine, another anti-malarial, which was President Donald Trump’s recent drug of choice in his dubious battle against COVID-19. It is still prescribed in many countries to prevent and treat malaria, but it is known to have severe and sometimes shocking side effects. A study conducted from 2001-2003 “confirmed mefloquine's potential for causing psychological illness.”Facing a wave of ridicule in social media, Russian state media changed the headline, which now reads: “Russia Offered a Drug for Treating the Coronavirus.”It should be noted that there is no known cure or approved treatment for the coronavirus. Multiple clinical trials for potential medical treatments are still underway.The purpose of all this is less pharmacological than propagandistic. While Kremlin-controlled media outlets propagate conspiracy theories blaming the United States (and even Ukraine) for creating and spreading the coronavirus, Russia is presented as the potential savior of all of humanity. At a time when the Kremlin’s cynical effort to hide the extent of the pandemic in Russia is becoming ever more apparent, state media are criticizing American and European tactics for containing the pandemic. Virologist Mikhail Shchelkanov, head of the Laboratory of Ecology of Microorganisms, FEFU School of Biomedicine, described the Western approach as “18th-century tactics.” In contrast, he claimed that, “Russia, since the days of the Soviet Union, has had the world's best biological safety system.”After Putin’s Big Fail, Russia Braces for COVID-19 OnslaughtRussian coronavirus measures recommended by the government agency to the general public indeed seem more stringent than those offered in the United States. For example, everyday use of face masks in public is recommended for all individuals. Single-use masks are to be replaced every 2-3 hours. The risk to younger individuals is not being downplayed. To the contrary, parents are being advised to keep their children at home or in the yard of their own home. When in public, children are to be prevented from touching any surfaces or interacting with others. There is public guidance with respect to the disinfection of store-bought food and merchandise.During his state TV show, The Evening with Vladimir Soloviev, the host described Russia’s approach to the pandemic as superior to that of Europe and the United States. “They’re behaving in an uncivilized manner,” Soloviev said, “They are being amoral. Our people unite and want to help others. Americans are just buying up guns.”    Speaking to RIA Novosti, Shchelkanov praised China’s response to the pandemic and condemned the United States and Western Europe for their lack of coordinated actions, predicting that coronavirus “can easily spread like fire—and is spreading to neighboring countries.” He claimed that “the Russian Federation continues to be a bulwark of European stability.”In reality, the true numbers of coronavirus infections in Russia are grossly understated due to the lack of testing and creative approach to recording the number of deaths. Some quarantined Russians report receiving negative test results, in spite of not being tested. The cause of death for coronavirus patients in Russia is being determined posthumously through an autopsy, and sometimes attributed to other causes, such as pulmonary thromboembolism—therefore being excluded from the official statistics.The aid supplied to Western countries by China and Russia has been criticized as largely defective and mainly useless. But Russian state media claim such support as the manifestation of “soft power.” Appearing on Soloviev's show, political scientist Dmitry Evstafiev noted, “Every country is using the coronavirus pandemic as cover, trying to achieve their own goals.”One of the Kremlin’s most pressing aims is the removal of U.S. and European sanctions against Russia and its informal allies: Iran, Venezuela, and North Korea. Experts on Russian state television repeatedly suggest that the Kremlin should bring up the removal of sanctions at every opportunity, especially while offering coronavirus aid to Western countries.During his state TV show, Soloviev expressed frustration that Trump “didn’t understand anything” and ignored President Vladimir Putin's proposal at the recent G-20 summit calling for the immediate removal of all sanctions.Soloviev opined that the first country that is able to create the coronavirus vaccine would acquire an instrument of enormous political pressure. Russia is actively seeking to develop such a lever of global influence, but the unproven panacea it is currently touting was made in the USA.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.


Dubai firm tied to Trump posts loss as virus downturn looms

Dubai firm tied to Trump posts loss as virus downturn loomsDubai's largest, fully private real estate developer posted on Sunday its first yearly loss since becoming a publicly traded company, a worrying sign for the sheikhdom's already-reeling vital property market that's been hit with the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. DAMAC Properties, which has business ties to U.S. President Donald Trump and hosts the Mideast's only Trump-branded golf course, reported a loss of 36.8 million dirhams ($10 million) in 2019 off revenues of nearly 4.4 billion dirhams ($1.19 billion). In a statement posted to the Dubai Financial Market stock exchange, DAMAC chairman Hussain Sajwani praised Emirati leaders for working toward stabilizing the economy.


Germany's Merkel shines in virus crisis even as power wanes

Germany's Merkel shines in virus crisis even as power wanesIn her first address to the nation on the coronavirus pandemic, German Chancellor Angela Merkel calmly appealed to citizens' reason and discipline to slow the spread of the virus, acknowledging as a woman who grew up in communist East Germany how difficult it is to give up freedoms, yet as a trained scientist emphasizing that the facts don't lie. For her, it was a regular shopping stop, but photos snapped by someone at the grocery store were shared worldwide as a reassuring sign of calm leadership amid a global crisis. Merkel has run Germany for more than 14 years and has over a decade's experience of managing crises.


US awol from world stage as China tries on global leadership for size

US awol from world stage as China tries on global leadership for sizeMike Pompeo labelling the virus ‘Chinese’ has added to lack of international cooperation * Coronavirus – latest updates * See all our coronavirus coverageWhen the UN security council and the G7 group sought to agree a global response to the coronavirus pandemic, the efforts stumbled on the US insistence on describing the threat as distinctively Chinese.There are other reasons for the lack of collaboration in the face of a global crisis, but the focus on labelling the virus Chinese and blaming China pursued by the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, helped ensure there would be no meaningful collective response from the world’s most powerful nations.For some US allies, the fixation on words at a time when the international order was arguably facing its greatest challenge since the second world war encapsulated the glaring absence of US leadership.And that absence was illustrated just as vividly by news coverage of planes full of medical supplies from China arriving in Italy, at a time when the US was quietly flying in half a million Italian-made diagnostic swabs for use in its own under-equipped health system and Donald Trump was on the phone to the South Korean president pressing him to send test kits.“To me what is so striking is the complete absence of the US from public debates. The US is basically off the map, and China very much is on the map,” Nathalie Tocci, the director of the Italian Institute for International Affairs and a former EU policy adviser, said.“Whatever happens in the US elections, what is happening now is going to linger on, simply because what we’re going through now is such a traumatic experience … It is going to remain very much in our individual and collective memories.”During the Ebola outbreak that began in 2014, the US was a highly visible leading presence on the ground in West Africa, sending emergency medics, troops and supplies. In sharp contrast, this week’s $2tn stimulus bill contained scarcely more than $1bn (about 0.06%) for spending outside the US.The state department pointed out that the US was separately spending $274m in emergency health and humanitarian assistance to help countries in need, on top of the funding to international organisations like the WHO.However, at a time when the scale of the damage is being measured in trillions, the additional aid has done little to soften the image of an administration that has employed xenophobic rhetoric and breaking with its closest partners in its efforts to intensify economic pressure on its enemies, Iran and Venezuela, whose populations are at high risk from the coronavirus.Despite its responsibility for allowing the virus to run rampant in the first place, China has had notable success in reshaping its image as a leader by its later efforts to contain the disease and its outreach to Italy and other vulnerable countries.“US global leadership won’t just end because they bungled their response to the coronavirus, but I think we will come to find that this was a pivotal point,” said Elisabeth Braw, the director of the Modern Deterrence Project at the Royal United Service Institute in London.Braw argued that the coronavirus crisis will inflict more lasting damage on the US’s standing than the 2003 Iraq invasion.“China wasn’t in the wings in 2003,” she said. “It wasn’t ready to take over that global role. Well, it’s now in a position where it can take over global leadership, and it’s just waiting for the US to misstep or to lose support among its allies … And the past couple of years have really been beneficial to China from that perspective.”From the debacle over testing to Trump’s months-long denial about the scale of the threat and his constant political point-scoring, the US has showed itself to be anything but a model for the rest of the world to emulate.Stephen Walt, a Harvard University professor of international relations, has argued that worldwide faith in US competence has been one of the pillars of its global standing, and is currently crumbling.“Far from making ‘America great again,’ this epic policy failure will further tarnish the United States’ reputation as a country that knows how to do things effectively,” Walt wrote in Foreign Policy, in a commentary titled “the death of American competence”.Not all global analysts look at the coronavirus as being so irreversibly negative for US standing in the world, pointing to more long-term trends, like US self-sufficiency in energy and its enduring economic, military and democratic advantages, as well China’s many shortcomings as a credible alternative global leader.“Geopolitics are not episodic. You cannot talk about geopolitics in two-week timescales,” Parag Khanna, a former adviser to US forces who now runs a Singapore-based consulting company, FutureMap. “The power dynamics are what are fundamental, not whether or not China is sending lots of face masks to Africa.”Khanna pointed out that China’s neighbours in Asia are well aware that Beijing’s censorship during the initial outbreak in Wuhan resulted in a missed opportunity to contain the virus, and that its diplomats have been spreading conspiracy theories about the origins of the disease.“China is filling a public goods vacuum, not a leadership vacuum,” Khanna said. “People here are not idiots. They know exactly where this came from, so you don’t need to worry about China winning any global narrative campaign in the world.”Tocci argued that the extent to which China succeeds in exploiting the crisis to pursue global primacy would be dependent on whether Beijing can be successfully challenged, for example from a change to a more outward leadership in Washington, or a Europe that can transcend its divisions.“It basically depends on how everyone else reacts more than how China itself acts,” Tocci said.


As virus makes goodbyes hard, fears of many more rise in US

As virus makes goodbyes hard, fears of many more rise in USThe coronavirus outbreak could kill 100,000 to 200,000 Americans, the U.S. government's top infectious-disease expert warned on Sunday as family members described wrenching farewells through hospital windows with dying loved ones. Faced with that grim projection and the possibility even more could die in the U.S. without measures to keep people away from one another, President Donald Trump extended federal guidelines recommending people stay home for another 30 days until the end of April to prevent the spread of the virus. Trump's extension of the original 15-day guidelines was a stark reversal just days after he said he hoped the economy could restart in about two weeks and came after Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, made the dire prediction of fatalities, adding that millions in the U.S. could become infected.


Canadian PM's wife has recovered from coronavirus illness

Canadian PM's wife has recovered from coronavirus illnessCanadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's wife said Saturday that she has recovered from being ill from COVID-19 disease caused by the new coronavirus. “I am feeling so much better,” Sophie Gregoire Trudeau said in a statement on social media. Trudeau's office announced on March 12 that she had tested positive for the coronavirus after she fell ill upon returning from a trip to London.


Coronavirus: Zimbabwean broadcaster Zororo Makamba died 'alone and scared'

Coronavirus: Zimbabwean broadcaster Zororo Makamba died 'alone and scared'The death of young Zimbabwean journalist Zororo Makamba exposes his country's healthcare problems.


North Korea test fires missiles amid worries about outbreak

North Korea test fires missiles amid worries about outbreakNorth Korea on Sunday fired two suspected ballistic missiles into the sea, South Korea and Japan said, continuing a streak of weapons launches that suggests leader Kim Jong Un is trying to strengthen domestic support amid worries about a possible coronavirus outbreak in the country. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said it detected the projectiles flying from the North Korean eastern coastal city of Wonsan into the waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan on Sunday morning.