World coronavirus dispatch: Lockdowns go into June; US halts immigration

President Donald Trump speaks during a coronavirus task force briefing at the White House. Photo: PTI
It looks like lockdowns in some country will go on for longer than they were thought to. The city-state of Singapore, having seen a spike in cases in the past two days, has extended its lockdown till June 1. This is the first time any country has officially extended its lockdown into June. Singapore’s lockdown was supposed to end on May 3.

Even as countries in the East are being more cautious, some others, particularly in Europe, think the worst has passed for them and are looking to ease restrictions. Some have even lifted their lockdowns partially. Read more here.

Let’s look at the global statistics:

Total confirmed cases: 2,531,804

Change over previous day: 73,928

Total deaths: 174,336

Total recovered: 665,458

Nations hit with most cases: US (804,194), Spain (204,178), Italy (183,957), France (156,495) and Germany (148,007).

Source: Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Research Center

Governments vow to keep food supply chains running: A group of nearly 50 governments, including those in the European Union, Canada, Japan and Brazil, is preparing to sign a pledge to ensure food supply chains remain orderly and officials exercise restraint with any trade restrictions. Read more here.

In times of pandemic, China is testing digital currency: China's central bank confirmed on Tuesday that it had started to test a digital currency in four cities. Cash is already a rare sight in China because of popular services like Alipay and WeChat Pay. Without an official name, the new currency is referred to internally as “DC/EP” or “digital currency/electronic payment”, and China says it should be ready for use by the Beijing Winter Olympics, 2022. Read more here.

US may stop taking immigrants: President Donald Trump on Tuesday tweeted that he would sign an executive order temporarily suspending immigration into the US. He offered no details. Since last month, the US has temporarily suspended routine visa services at embassies and consulates. But emergency services were offered even during this period. Read more here.

Smog-free skies allow Germany to break record for solar power: Sunny conditions meant that solar facilities generated as much as 40 per cent of Germany’s power on Monday, compared with 22 per cent for coal and nuclear power. In total, solar, wind and other renewables accounted for 78 per cent of Germany’s electricity output. While cloudless sky is a seasonal, less populated air, as factories are shut due to the coronavirus, is also a contributor. Read more here.

Denmark returns to normalcy: As the country starts to ease lockdown restrictions, children are going back to school and people are getting their hair cut professionally. On Monday, the nation said it would allow gatherings of up to 500 people from May 10, and also rigorously test anyone who comes forward with coronavirus symptoms. Read more here.

US restaurants may lose $240 billion by year-end: The National Restaurant Association has said its latest survey shows two-thirds of its workers – more than 8 million people – have been laid off or furloughed as four in 10 restaurants in the US are closed. In total, the estimated damage would be to the tune of $240 billion this year. Read more here.

Specials

Coronavirus news fatigue is officially setting in: Now, as the world enters week four of isolation, new figures show that the interest of people in coronavirus content is waning. Research by NiemanLab at Harvard University shows that by March 9, one in every four page views on American news sites were on a coronavirus story. Traffic peaked on March 12 and 13, and by the end of March, attention ebbed. Read more here.

Why cases in Singapore have spiked: Singapore reported 1,111 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, bringing its total of infections to 9,125, after a record daily jump of 1,426 on Monday. Experts say the surge is due largely to local officials underestimating the vulnerability of the city’s migrant workers, who live in cramped dormitories with up to 20 people in a room. Read more here.

How to manage your mental health during isolation: Have a healthy diet, maintain a sense of routine, engage with nature, have no-screen time, talk to friends on calls, limit news intake... Read all tips here.

How to maintain healthy relationships during self-isolation: If you’re isolating away from your partner, a good old fashioned hand-written letter, along with video calls, is a good way to make your partner feel present. When you reunite with your partner once the lockdown is over, it’s important to recognise and acknowledge change. If you’re isolating with your partner, give space to each other and most importantly maintain individual interests. Read more here.

Long Reads

Coronavirus and climate change: Sure, emissions have fallen. But a closer look at how the global crisis is influencing the environment reveals some surprising dynamics. Read to grasp the full picture.


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