World coronavirus dispatch: When is the right time to ease the lockdown?

Topics Coronavirus | Lockdown

Medical workers walk by a police robot at the Wuhan Tianhe International Airport. Photo: Reuters
The coronavirus situation is extraordinary and unprecedented, perhaps a first such experience in the lifetime for many of us. His Holiness the Dalai Lama says some friends ask him if he could use his ‘magical powers’ to heal the world. But he doesn’t have any, he says. But as human beings, “we have the capacity to use our minds to conquer anger and panic and greed,” he says.

The spiritual leader says that in these testing times, it is an opportunity to show compassion to others and only collective effort and will can help up out of it. “This crisis shows that we must all take responsibility where we can.” Read his message

Let’s look at the global statistics:

Total Confirmed Cases: 2,259,317

Change Over Yesterday: 90,295

Total Deaths: 154,694

Total Recovered: 3,574,392 

Nations hit with most cases: US (706,779), Spain (190,839), Italy (172,434), France (149,130) and Germany (141,397)


Iran opens some businesses: Iran allowed some businesses in the capital and nearby towns to re-open Saturday after weeks of lockdown. Iran was slow to respond and held off on imposing widespread restrictions and now has 80,000 confirmed cases and over 5,000 deaths. Read more

US announces $19 bn farmer aid: Donald Trump has announced a $19 billion relief program to help US farmers cope with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, including $16 billion in direct payments to producers and mass purchases of meat, dairy, vegetables and other products. Read more

Experts warn Trump’s economy re-opening plan is fraught with loopholes: As per the guidelines, states in the US may end lockdowns if infections decline for 14 straight days, availability of tests is stable, and if there is there is enough hospital capacity to treat everyone. States must also be ready to test all healthcare workers and anybody with symptoms, as well as to be able to trace contacts. But an analysis shows preparedness is lacking. Read more

Amazon deploys thermal cameras at warehouses: The e-tailer has started to use thermal cameras at its warehouses to speed up screening for feverish workers who could be infected with the coronavirus. These cameras measure how much heat people emit relative to their surroundings. They require less time and contact than forehead thermometers. Read more

NASA to launch astronauts to space station in May: Despite the coronavirus crisis, NASA announced it was targeting a May 27 launch date to send two astronauts to the International Space Station aboard a SpaceX rocket. This will be the first time astronauts are flying to the ISS aboard a Space X rocket. Read more

Wuhan workers to be re-tested before going out of the city: China has ordered that anyone in Wuhan working in certain service-related jobs must take a coronavirus test if they want to leave the city. These include nursing, education, security and other sectors with high exposure to the public. Wuhan was recently opened after a 70-day lockdown. Read more

People throng cafés, Apple store in South Korea: In the capital Seoul, cafes bustled with customers, parks teemed with sunbathers, and the first Apple store to reopen outside China had lines snaking out the door. This has been made possible via South Korea’s massive testing and contact-tracing campaign that significantly curtailed the outbreak and kept many businesses and factories open. Read more

As Germany prepares to open up, cases rise: Confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased at a quicker rate for a third day and by the most in seven days as the nation prepares for a relaxation of some restrictions. There were 3,699 new infections in the 24 hours through Saturday, taking the total to 141,397. Read more

20 Afghan presidential palace staff test positive for coronavirus: At least 20 officials working at Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s palace have tested positive for coronavirus, the country’s health ministry said. President Ashraf Ghani, has who in the past has suffered from health issues related to his stomach, has limited contact with staff, conducting most meetings through video conference calls. Read more


Your risk of getting sick from Covid-19 may lie in your genes: Some people experience Covid-19 as nothing more than a mild cold, and others exhibit no symptoms at all. Then there are the thousands who sicken and, often, die. Scientists are working hard to understand the underlying reasons for such huge discrepancies in symptoms and outcomes. It may be locked deep in our genetic makeup. Read more

How nations are approaching lockdown easing: As unemployment rises and many around the world face the first rent payments after losing their jobs, governments are wrestling with when and how to ease restrictions designed to control the coronavirus pandemic. Mandatory lockdowns to stop the spread of the new virus, which has so far infected more than 2.2 million people and for which there is no vaccine, have brought widespread hardship. Read more

The good gestures in the times of pandemic: Read this heart-warming selection about the kindness of strangers and individuals who sacrifice for others during the coronavirus outbreak.

The case for antibody tests: Touted as society's way out of widespread lockdowns, scientists say the true potential of these rapidly-developed tests is still unknown. Still dozens of biotech companies and laboratories have rushed to produce the blood tests. And governments have bought millions of kits, in the hope that they could guide decisions on when to relax social-distancing measures. Some have even suggested that the tests could be used as an ‘immunity passport’, giving the owner clearance to interact with others again. The immediate goal is a test that can tell whether the tested person is still at risk of infection. Read more


How air quality has improved during the coronavirus crisis: Reuters visualisations, based on data from NASA’s Global Modeling and Data Assimilation team, show how concentrations of some pollutants fell drastically after the global lockdowns started. Satellite observations record information on aerosols in the atmosphere and NASA’s model is then able to provide estimates of the distribution of these pollutants close to the Earth’s surface. Experience it  



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