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Monday 11th May 2020.


Asia

Iran has said that it is ready to swap prisoners with the US, because its citizens were at risk in American prisons, because of coronavirus. One surprise exchange of prisoners took place last year. At least four Americans are currently in Iranian prisons. In Iran coronavirus lockdown restrictions have been relaxed recently, however, yesterday the Southwestern Abadan state was forced to restart its restrictions, after a quick rise in cases.


Iraq saw large protests yesterday. People were manifesting against unemployment and corruption. Last year protests in Iraq caused hundreds of deaths. New Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi tried to help the situation by releasing some protesters held in prison since last year. However, protests yesterday demanded an end to his government.


There were also protests in Hong Kong yesterday. Riot police were used to separate protesters in shopping malls calling for independence and democracy. Last year Hong Kong saw huge protests against Chinese control, however this year has seen less protests because of coronavirus.


Malaysia will continue a partial lockdown until June 9th. Some businesses have reopened since last week. Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said yesterday that if the country saw a significant rise in cases, then a full lockdown could be implemented.


Lebanon is reopening after a two month lockdown. However, a poor economy means that many businesses won’t be reopening at all. The Lebanese pound has lost half its value in 6 months.

Wuhan, the Chinese city were COVID19 is believed to have originated, has seen its first new case of the virus in weeks. Experts believe the COVID19 originated in an exotic animal market in Wuhan, probably passing to humans, from bats.


Europe

In the United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday announced small steps to lower restrictions. He spoke about some changes, but most lockdown measures will continue in the UK. Shops, bars and restaurants will remain closed until July, and only some schools may open in June, however, people will be able to spend time outside, including in public parks…

“We must stay alert, we must continue to control the virus and save lives. We must also recognize that this campaign against the virus has come at colossal cost to our way of life. We can see it all around us in the shuttered shops and abandoned businesses, darkened pubs and restaurants and there are millions of people who are both fearful of this terrible disease and at the same time also fearful of what this long period of enforced inactivity will do to their livelihoods and their mental and physical wellbeing.”


In Germany infections have accelerated since lockdowns have been relaxed. According to the Robert Koch Institute, the rate of infection is now over one, which means that the number of infected people will grow. Germany allowed shops to last week.

In Spain many shops, bars and restaurants will be able to open today. However, in Madrid, Barcelona and some other large cities, most restrictions will stay in place. Yesterday Spain registered its lowest daily death toll since Mid-March, with 143. In France many restrictions are being relaxed today as well.


Africa

Djibouti has changed the decision to relax its lockdown. Djibouti has the highest number of confirmed cases per capita in Africa, with more than one in every thousand people confirmed to be infected.


Libya. Turkey has said that war crimes have been committed by warlord Khalifa Haftar. Haftar’s forces have been trying to take Libya’s capital Tripoli for a year. 5 civilians were killed by Haftar’s forces yesterday. Libya has been stuck in conflict since 2011.


Americas

Officials in Mexico say that they expect the real number of COVID19 cases to be eight times the official number of 33,000. Mexico has seen a fast rise in deaths recently, some attributed to COVID19, and some not.


US president Donald Trump continues to claim that his government’s response to COVID19 has been a success. Former President Barack Obama has described it as a ‘chaotic disaster’. In New York, governor Andrew Cuomo has said that from now on all care home staff will be tested for coronavirus twice a week. There have been 5000 COVID 19 deaths in care homes in New York State…

“All nursing home staff must now be tested twice a week.. That’s not just a temperature check. That’s a diagnostic test. We have the tests available. We’ve brought them online. The state has more testing capacity than any state in the country. They have to test their staff twice a week. That is a rule.”

Also in the United States, for the first time, renewable energy sources have generated more electricity than coal every day for a month. In the whole month of April, the amount of electricity produced by solar, wind and hydropower was larger than the amount produced by burning carbon.


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Sunday 10th May 2020

Over 4 million people infected with COVID19 worldwide. Nearly 1.5 million have recovered.


Africa

In Libya, the only functioning airport in Tripoli has been attacked by the forces of Khalifa Haftar. The United Nations and the European Union have condemned the attack. 3 civilians are known to have died. General Haftar’s forces are trying to take Tripoli from the UN recognized government. Libya has been in a state of chaos since 2011.


Ethiopia has admitted to shooting down a Kenyan plane flying over Somalia. The plane, carrying humanitarian aid, and medical supplies, was shot down on Monday, The Ethiopian army said that it was shot down because it was unrecognized, and making unusual movements and they believed it was on a suicide mission. 6 people were killed when the plane crashed.


Asia

South Korea stopped its lockdown last week, however, the capital seoul has again closed its bars and restaurants. After finding one man with COVID19 had infected 27 others at a bar, the mayor of Seoul made the decision to close bars again.


In Afghanistan 6 people have died in violent protests. In the central Ghor province protesters clashed with police while complaining about unfair food distribution.


In Pakistan, many lockdown restrictions have been lifted. Prime Minister Imran Khan said that it was necessary to reopen, but that lockdown would start again, if cases continue to rise. Schools and colleges will remain closed.


The world Health Organization has said that restrictions should be lifted in a ‘slow and controlled way’. Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove…

“We’re just beginning to see now a number of countries that are opening up their economies after having shown that they are able to surpress transmission. The countries that are further along in this are countries across Asia, and we do see tha countries like China, Japan, Korea, Singapore, have lifted some of these public health and social measures in a slow and a controlled way. What we are learning from those countries that are slowly opening up their economies again….. and we’ve talked about this before – when these measures are lifted, they need to be lifted in a slow and controlled way because its possible for the virus to take off again.”

One country that is relaxing its lockdown slowly is Spain. Some measures have already been lifted, and tomorrow, over half of the country will see more relaxation. Shops, bars and restaurants will be able to open with reduced capacity in those areas. Big cities such as Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia will remain under full lockdown.


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In The Americas, former President Barack Obama has called the US response to COVID19 ‘A chaotic disaster’….


"It's part of the reason why the response to this global crisis has been so anemic and spotty. It would have been bad even with the best of governments. It has been an absolute chaotic disaster when that mindset (of 'what's in it for me' and 'to heck with everybody else') when that mindset is operationalized in our government."

80,000 Americans have now died of COVID19, and 1.3 million are confirmed to have been infected.


In Brazil 751 people were confirmed to have died of COVID19 yesterday, the worst daily death toll until now. The central Amazonas state has been using mass graves. The medical journal ‘Lancet’ has said that the biggest threat to Brazil is the president. Lancet said that Bolsonaro’s disregard for lockdown measures is confusing Brazilians and helping the spread of the virus. Sao Paulo state has extended its lockdown until May 31st, ignoring the President’s desire to see everything open.


In Argentina lockdown has been extended for Buenos Aires until 24th May. Other states will make their own decisions. President Alberto Fernandez said yesterday that he was proud of Argentinians for following isolation measures.


Little Richard has died aged 87. Richard Penniman was known as one of the founding fathers of rock n woll. His first hit was Tutti Frutti in 1956 and his career continued for 7 decades. As a gay black man, he was a surprise sensation in conservative 1950s America. His music was covered by Buddy Holly, Bill Haley and Elvis Presley and he sold over 30 million records.

Europe remembered VE day yesterday. It was 75 years since Nazi Germany surrendered, and 75 years without war in Western Europe. French President Emmanuel Macron led a quiet tribute in the Paris at the arc de triomphe. German Chancellor Angela Merkel made phone calls to the leaders of the UK, France, the USA and Russia. In the UK the Queen addressed the nation last night, at 9PM as her father King George had done to declare the war over…


“Many people laid down their lives in that terrible conflict. They fought so that we could live in peace at home and abroad. They died so that we could live as free people in a world of free nations. They risked all so that our families and neighbourhoods could be safe. We should and will remember them. The greatest tribute to their sacrifice is that countries who were once sworn enemies are now friends working side by side for the peace health and prosperity of us all.”

World War 2 in Europe began in September 1939 and finished on the 8th May 1945.

Yesterday was another special anniversary for the world – 40 years since the global eradication of smallpox. Smallpox was an infectious disease with a fatality rate of 30%. The World Health Organization declared the global eradication of smallpox on the 8th May 1980.


The world passed 4 million confirmed cases of coronavirus yesterday. 275,000 people have now died. The United States is the worst affected country with 1.3 million cases confirmed and 78,000 deaths. Yesterday President trump said that deaths in the United States could reach 100,000.

“ You look on the screens, you look on television today and you see body bags and you see mass graves and we may be talking about 95 00 people ultimately, we may be talking about something more than that, perhaps 100,000.”

President Trump also said yesterday that the US government had no connection to the group that attempted to invade Venezuela. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has repeated claims that the US and Colombian governments were behind the attack, as well as Juan Guaido, the opposition declared president. 50 countries recognize Juan Guaido as the President of Venezuela.


Tanzania has received its first shipment of Madagascar’s herbal tea that it claims cures COVID19. Equatorial Guinea, Central African Republic, The Republic of Congo, The Deomcractic Republic of Congo, Guinea Bissau and Liberia have also received thousands of bottles of the tea. The World Health Organization has warned that its effect is unproven.


The supreme court in Malawi has rejected the presidents appeal against the annulment of last years election. The original election took place a year ago, but was annulled by the constitutional court because of irregularities. A new vote will be held on the 2nd July.


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Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke yesterday of a 3 stage plan to gradually reopen Australia. The first steps would be allowing gatherings of ten people, opening schools, small shops and cafes….

“Step one will enable greater connection with friends and family, allowing gatherings of up to ten people, and five guests in your own home. Working from home if it works for you and your employer. It will see children back in classrooms and in playgrounds in their communities. Step two will allow larger size gatherings of up to twenty people including venues such as cinemas and galleries, more retail openings on sector based covid safe plans. Step three allowing gatherings of up to 100 people.


Turkey will inject 3 billion dollars into 3 banks in order to encourage borrowing. The Turkish Lira fell to its lowest level ever yesterday, of 7 lira to the dollar. The Turkish economy has been struggling since 2018, but has suffered even more because of COVID19.


4 Indonesian fisherman are said to have died working on Chinese fishing boats. The Jakarta Post reports that other Indonesian crew spoke of being treated badly, and being used like slaves on Chinese fishing boats. The Chinese ambassador to Indonesia said that China would investigate.


In Cambodia, a stone turtle has been found underground close to the Angkor historical site. Archaeologists found the turtle statue between temples, and believe that it is almost around a thousand years old. Angkor was the capital city of the Khmer empire and was the home of up to a million people, however was abandoned in the 15th century. Last year Angkor Wat was named the number one lanmark in the world by TripAdvisor.


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