Coronavirus World Updates: Missouri Sues China Over Outbreak

Coronavirus World Updates: Missouri Sues China Over Outbreak


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Antigovernment protesters demonstrated in Beirut, Lebanon, as social distancing measures because of the coronavirus have amplified the country’s economic crisis.CreditCredit…Mohamed Azakir/Reuters

When the pandemic froze Lebanon in place last month, it also dispersed the last crowds of antigovernment protesters who had filled the country’s streets for months, chanting against what they call the country’s corrupt and incompetent political elite.

Over the last week, however, small demonstrations have flared once again in Beirut, the capital, and Tripoli, a northern city where many lived hand-to-mouth even before the lockdown made their daily wages disappear. The shutdown to slow the virus’s spread has magnified the poverty and joblessness that drove many of the protesters to the streets in the first place.

Videos posted on social media over the last week showed protesters crowding roads in Tripoli, none wearing masks, shouting, “Revolution! Revolution! Revolution!”

Other protesters respected the rules of social distancing by coming up with a new way to make their voices heard. On Tuesday, convoys of cars in Beirut drove in honking protest past the building where Lebanon’s Parliament was meeting. (The Parliament met under circumstances dictated by the coronavirus, convening in a large auditorium instead of the usual government building so lawmakers could sit far apart.)

With the value of the Lebanese lira plummeting, banks continuing to withhold depositors’ savings and prospects of an international bailout uncertain at best, the government’s economic recovery plan has drawn widespread skepticism. Its distributions of food aid during the lockdown have also been criticized as falling far short of the need.

Beginning in mid-October, the protest movement had drawn at least a million people — a quarter of the population — to daily demonstrations, which tailed off by early this year. As the virus spread, some of the remaining demonstrators donned surgical masks. But soon after the lockdown began in March, security forces moved to dismantle protesters’ tents in downtown Beirut. But neither that nor the virus stopped the protests.




Trump Orders Pause on Issuing Green Cards

President Trump said he would order a 60-day halt on issuing green cards to prevent people from immigrating to the United States.

So the noble fight against the invisible enemy has inflicted a steep toll on the American workforce as we all know. Millions of Americans sacrificed their jobs in order to battle the virus and save the lives of our fellow citizens. We have a solemn duty to ensure these unemployed Americans regain their jobs and their livelihoods. Therefore, in order to protect American workers, I will be issuing a temporary suspension of immigration into the United States. You heard about that last night. It would be wrong and unjust for Americans laid off by the virus to be replaced with new immigrant labor flown in from abroad. We must first take care of the American worker, take care of the American worker. This pause will be in effect for 60 days, after which the need for any extension or modification will be evaluated by myself and a group of people based on economic conditions at the time. This order will only apply to individuals seeking a permanent residency. In other words, those receiving green cards — big factor — will not apply to those entering on a temporary basis. As we move forward, we’ll examine what additional immigration related measures should be put in place.

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President Trump said he would order a 60-day halt on issuing green cards to prevent people from immigrating to the United States.CreditCredit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

The United States Senate on Tuesday passed a $484 billion coronavirus relief package that would replenish a depleted loan program for distressed small businesses and provide funds for hospitals and coronavirus testing, approving yet another huge infusion of federal money to address the public health and economic crisis brought on by the pandemic.

The measure was the product of an intense round of bipartisan negotiations that unfolded as a small business loan program quickly ran out of its initial $349 billion in funding.

The program ran dry before many companies were able to have their applications approved, collapsing under a glut of appeals from businesses struggling to stay afloat. And despite the federal aid, more than 22 million Americans have filed for unemployment in recent weeks.

Also on Tuesday, President Trump said he would order a temporary halt in issuing green cards to prevent people from immigrating to the United States but backed away from plans to suspend guest worker programs after business groups complained about losing access to foreign labor.

Although a few Southern states are beginning to reopen their economies, some Georgia mayors have urged residents to ignore the governor’s announcement and stay at home. Georgia is allowing some businesses, including gyms and nail salons, to open on Friday, and dine-in restaurants and theaters will be allowed to resume operations next week.

Tuesday was the first full day of reopening in South Carolina, which has allowed many businesses and public beaches to resume operations, but places that typically bustle remained quiet.

Sixteen humanitarian groups, including Oxfam and Save the Children, called for a cease-fire throughout Myanmar after a driver for the World Health Organization was shot and killed while transporting coronavirus test samples in troubled Rakhine State.

The driver, Pyae Sone Win Maung, and a Myanmar health ministry official were taking the samples to Yangon in a marked United Nations vehicle Monday evening when they were attacked in an area where the Myanmar military has been battling the Arakan Army, a rebel group that is seeking autonomy.

The unidentified health ministry official was wounded, the authorities said.

Both the national military and rebels denied responsibility for the shooting.

Myanmar, a country of 54 million that shares a 1,300-mile-long border with China, has reported just 121 cases of coronavirus and five deaths. But it has conducted only 5,198 tests and taken few steps to halt the spread of the virus.

Health experts fear that the disease is already widespread and that the country’s inadequate health care system could easily be overwhelmed. The health ministry director, Dr. Than Naing Soe, said the country has only 250 ventilators.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned Monday’s attack and called for a complete and transparent investigation. The humanitarian groups said the attack “demonstrates the urgent need for armed actors in Myanmar to lay down their weapons.”

However, the country’s civilian leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, issued a statement after the attack praising the military for protecting civilians by fighting the rebels. The military has rejected calls for a halt in fighting so that the country can address the pandemic.




How Ecuador’s Port City Became a Coronavirus Epicenter

Ecuador took early aggressive measures to stop the coronavirus, but ended up becoming an epicenter of the pandemic in Latin America. How? We revisit the first confirmed case and what led to the disease’s spread.

Outside a hospital in Guayaquil, Ecuador, a family seals the coffin of their father with plastic wrap. Many people in Guayaquil blame the government for failing to slow the spread of coronavirus, and to deal with the thousands of bodies that have piled up in the aftermath. Guayaquil has suffered arguably the worst Covid death toll in Latin America. The thing is, Ecuador had acted earlier than its neighbors to close borders and order strict quarantine. So what went wrong? From the start, the one-two punch of rapid contagion and the ensuing death toll caught local and national officials off guard. On Feb. 27, doctors in Guayaquil diagnosed the country’s first Covid-19 patient, Bella Lamilla, a 71-year-old retired teacher, otherwise known as “Patient Zero.” Dr. Esteban Ortiz-Prado is a medical investigator helping to advise the government on the pandemic. It took 13 days to diagnose Lamilla with coronavirus. And in that time, she infected many other people, including much of her family, pictured here in 2019. In all, three family members died, including Bella herself. After she arrived in Ecuador, Lamilla stayed in the home of her niece, Cassandra, in the town of Babahoyo. Bella Lamilla was certainly not the only case. There were at least six other flights from Madrid to Guayaquil between the time she arrived and when she was diagnosed. Other travelers later tested positive for Covid-19. Those lost weeks led to an out-of-control epidemic. Two and a half weeks after Bella Lamilla’s diagnosis, the country was on lockdown. Two weeks after that, Guayaquil was in the throes of the most aggressive outbreak in Latin America. “It is true that at the very beginning, it was a disaster. We are learning by mistake, by errors that we made.” This is Dr. Juan Carlos Zevallos. He was installed as Ecuador’s health minister in late March, after the former minister resigned. He admits the government should have tested and tracked patients. But he also blames residents for not following stay-at-home orders after Bella’s diagnosis. “Ecuador, as I said, was prepared. I mean, did all the measures in place and very early. Unfortunately, the people didn’t hear us. And they did not obey those restrictions.” Like a lot of cities in Latin America, a large segment of Guayaquil’s population lives day to day, working informal jobs. So to stay home means not eating. It was a perfect storm of factors that left Guayaquil’s hospitals and morgues overwhelmed. Now, the government of Ecuador has another dilemma: Just how to bury the thousands of bodies that have piled up in the weeks after Lamilla’s death? Ecuador’s official Covid death toll is several hundred. But forensic police have been working around the clock to collect and account for thousands more dead. And construction is now underway for various large burial sites around the city. Container trucks like this one transport corpses to one new site on the outskirts of Guayaquil, in the neighborhood of Pascuales. Local residents fearful of contamination are outraged. Officials in charge of handling the dead have promised that each body will have a separate resting place. We attempted to film drone footage of the new burial site. But Ecuadorean soldiers ordered our team to bring the drone down, and temporarily confiscated our footage. A human rights worker documented the incident. Since the first coronavirus diagnosis, distrust of the government’s handling of this crisis appears to have spread as fast as the contagion itself.

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Ecuador took early aggressive measures to stop the coronavirus, but ended up becoming an epicenter of the pandemic in Latin America. How? We revisit the first confirmed case and what led to the disease’s spread.CreditCredit…Ivan Castaneira for The New York Times

Ecuador took early, aggressive measures to stop the coronavirus, but it could not prevent its largest city, Guayaquil, from becoming the site of Latin America’s worst outbreak. A failure to track and test people who arrived in Ecuador from Europe contributed to the spread of the virus in February.

It took 13 days to diagnose an Ecuadorean woman, labeled Patient 0 by the government, who had been living in Spain and returned home. In that time, she infected at least 17 other people, including much of her family, according to a medical investigator. As the authorities grapple with the scale of a crisis that has caused hospitals and morgues to collapse, they believe Ecuador’s toll is probably many times larger than the official figure of 520 deaths.

It would have been a routine gig, playing electronic dance music in a sports stadium filled with 40,000 fans at a festival in Chengdu, China, last weekend.

Martin Garrix, described as the world’s No. 2 D.J., performs at around 150 such events a year. But now, because of the coronavirus, electronic dance music parties and festivals across the world are over. That is true even in Mr. Garrix’s home country, the Netherlands, where they are an important export product, an $8 billion industry employing around 100,000 people, according to Event Makers, an industry group.

As of Tuesday, all shows and festivals have been canceled until at least Sept. 1. Such is the prominence of the business in the Netherlands that the cancellation was announced by the prime minister, Mark Rutte, in a news conference.

Dutch D.J.’s, who normally roam the globe in private jets, now sit home wondering if this is the end of their profession. Dutch festival goers not only face a dance-less summer but now have $1 billion in advance tickets and no guarantee of refunds.

The dance festivals have become a fixture of modern life in the Netherlands, where there are more of them per capita than anywhere in the world, said Mark van Bergen, a lecturer in the dance industry at Fontys University of Applied Sciences at Tilburg and a writer on electronic dance music. All told, the country had 422 festivals in 2018, he said.

The Polish milk bar is remarkably well suited to the coronavirus lockdown.

At these traditional restaurants, diners can pick up orders of ready-made pierogi or get home delivery of the familiar comfort of a barszcz beet soup and stuffed cabbage, to warm in the oven. Much of the menu comes at spectacularly low prices, thanks to the government subsidies that the milk bars receive.

Even before the lockdown, milk bars — so called because they were historically vegetarian — straddled a strange divide in Polish society. Somewhere between a diner and a soup kitchen, they are both hip and vital. They offer both Communist nostalgia and Communist-era prices; even the most eyes-bigger-than-stomach customer will struggle to run a bill of more than $5.

“They are especially needed right now,” said Jan Binczycki, a librarian at the Malopolska Public Library in Krakow. “We have a lot of problems with things like gentrification and social stratification. Milk bars are at the front lines of the fight between old and new.”

Under Communism, they were a forced staple, among the only places to eat out. But in the years after the old order fell in 1989, international chain restaurants arrived en masse. Poles flocked to try McDonald’s cheeseburgers, kebabs and Vietnamese food, while milk bars came to be seen as a grim reminder of a past pockmarked with scarcity and oppression. Today, there are only a few hundred left, down from thousands in their heyday.

But in the past decade, milk bars have grown popular again, as people seek out familiar food as a way to connect with the past and fashion a contemporary Polish identity.

The coronavirus pandemic unfolded very differently in China from the way it has in the rest of the world — at least, if one believes state-run Chinese media. Chinese news outlets used words like “purgatory” and “apocalypse” to describe the tragic hospital scenes in Italy and Spain. They have run photos of British and American medical workers wearing garbage bags as protective gear.

A lot of the same miseries happened in China, but those reports were called “rumors” and censored.

For the Communist Party, keeping up a positive image for the Chinese public has long been an important part of maintaining its legitimacy. That facade was broken during the outbreak in late January and February, as dying patients flooded hospitals and medical workers begged for protective gear on social media. Some people started asking why the government suppressed information early on and who should be held accountable.

The death of Li Wenliang, the whistle-blowing doctor in Wuhan, on Feb. 6 galvanized many Chinese people into demanding freedom of speech. Online sentiment became much more skeptical, and many young people openly challenged the party’s message.

Then the United States and other countries bungled their own responses, and China’s propaganda machine saw an opportunity.

Using the West’s transparency and free flow of information, state media outlets chronicled how badly others have managed the crisis. Their message: Those countries should copy China’s model. For good measure, the propaganda machine revved up its attacks on anybody who dared to question the government’s handling of the pandemic.

Last month, the coronavirus pandemic prompted universities and museums around the world to dial down their operations, leaving scientists to make difficult decisions about the animals they work with. While some released or culled their specimens — or set up a visitation schedule — others decided to take theirs home, embarking on a different sort of relationship. We checked in with half a dozen scientists about how they’re making it work with their new roommates in this time of social distancing.

As a postdoctoral fellow in a University of California, San Diego, lab that studies small-scale locomotion, Glenna Clifton is used to observing insects quite closely. But since the lab moved to remote work in March, she has forged a new intimacy with some of her research subjects: nine cockroaches that now live about two feet from her bed.


Credit…Kathryn Ward

Dr. Clifton wanted to take the roaches home so she could continue working with them. (Plus, her supervisor has a cat with a taste for bugs.) But like many young academics, she shares housing, and her housemates were “a little hesitant,” she said. So she promised she would keep them in her bedroom.

She plans to take advantage of the situation by collecting data on the roaches when they are most active. She said the experience has made her realize that the human bias toward daytime lab work does not always “align with the animal’s normal working hours.”

Jason M. Bailey, Richard C. Paddock, Saw Nang, Thomas Erdbrink, Amelia Nierenberg, Alissa J. Rubin, Falih Hassan, Cara Giaimo, Li Yuan and Patrick Kingsley contributed reporting.

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