March 20, 2020
The Numbers: Over the past three months, there are have been 265,873 confirmed cases of the coronavirus around the world and 11,181 deaths. At the current moment, 164,089 people are infected, and 7,793 people are in critical condition. Since the pandemic originated, 90,603 people have recovered.
Border Closures: Countries around the world are closing their borders and implementing curfews in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19. The United States has closed its border with Canada. It has also enacted a travel ban that prevents foreign travelers from entering the country if they have recently visited countries that have been particularly affected by the pandemic. The European Union has also closed its borders to non-citizens for 30 days. Even the Schengenscheme is temporarily suspended as some EU-member states imposed some restrictions among themselves.
Economy: The stock market has continued to take serious hits, and the looming threat of a recession has sent Americans into a frenzy. Lebanon, a country that was already struggling financially before the virus, is still experiencing massive debt; its economy is “tanking.” Venezuela is facing the same problems. The IMF denied Venezuela’s $5 billion loan request, as it does not recognize Maduro as a legitimate president.
Vaccines: Three countries are currently testing vaccines on both human and animal subjects. The tests are being administered in the United States, China, and Europe. Results have yet to be reported.
New Discovery: The second dog to test positive for the coronavirus was reported on Thursday in Hong Kong. According to the Agriculture, Fisheries, and Conservation Department, “there’s no evidence that pets can transmit the virus to humans.” Humans can, however, pass the virus to animals. Medical professionals are planning to run tests on quarantined dogs and cats in the near future.
The European Union has accused Russian media of “pushing fake news online in English, Spanish, Italian, German, and French” and “using contradictory, confusing, and malicious reports to make it harder for the EU to communicate its response to the pandemic.” The EU has discovered 80 cases of disinformation; the Kremlin has denied all allegations.
President Barham Salih has appointed former mayor of Najaf Adnan al-Zurfi as Iraq’s new Prime Minister-designate. Salih appointed al-Zurfi “without the consultation of the political parties in Parliament.” Al-Zurfi has 30 days to appoint cabinet members that will then be put to a vote of confidence in parliament.
For the first time since the pandemic began, China has “reported no domestic #COVID19 cases yesterday.” China has taken drastic measures to slow the spread of the virus, but the World Health Organization has been left to wonder why China took so long to address the pathogen. Nevertheless, China has been able to flatten the curve, and as more countries enact the same policies as China, we can expect the number of cases to decrease over time.
Despite the fact that a military judge overturned the release of Lebanese-American Amer Fakhoury, he will return to the United States. Fakhoury was going to trial for allegedly “kidnapping, torturing, and detaining Lebanese citizens as well as ‘killing and attempting to kill others.’” He was a warden at Khiam Prison during Israel’s occupation of Lebanon. The prison is said to have been a “center for torture.”
The United States has implemented new sanctions on Iran after the bombings of American military bases have worsened. Iranians believe the sanctions have come at an extremely inappropriate time, as they are battling the spread of COVID-19. More than 17,000 are infected, and around 1,100 have died.
In an attempt to regain the Idlib province and the M-4 Highway, the Syrian Arab Army has sent reinforcements to the area this week. The army will continue to reinforce the front lines in order to resume their offensive attack against the jihadist rebels. On Wednesday, pro-Assad forces blocked the M-4 Highway in order to “prevent the joint Turkish-Russian military patrol from being conducted.” The joint patrol started on March 15th when Turkey and Russia agreed to a ceasefire.
Sudan has disbanded Islamist groups that were “formed to confiscate church properties” in order to protect Christians from religious prosecution. Sudan is currently ranked seventh in the world for Christian prosecution. The transitional government “finalized a constitutional declaration last year that no longer refers to Islam as the primary source of law in the country,” and it also repealed a law that allowed police to detain people for “violating religious-based moral teachings.” Sudan is now on the U.S. State Department’s “Special Watch List” instead of the list of “Countries of Particular Concern.”
North Korea has yet to report any cases of COVID-19, but the pandemic has pushed Kim Jong Un to call upon his country to “hastily build a ‘modern general hospital’ to ‘better protect the precious health and safety’ of North Koreans. The construction of the hospital is one of the country’s top priorities and is set to be finished by October.
Chilean anti-government protesters are being forced to postpone their demonstrations due to the government declaring a “90-day catastrophe.” President Sebastian Pinera has yet to specify what exact policies the government will enact, but citizens can most likely expect to be quarantined until the number of cases starts to decrease.
13 American journalists have been expelled from China. The expulsion comes weeks after China accused the United States of enacting “‘unreasonable oppression’ of Chinese journalists” residing in America.
Despite the current arms embargo implemented by the United Nations in 2011, jet oil shipments from the United Arab Emirates have been received in Eastern Libya. The United Nations is aware of the shipments and has yet to respond.
Two of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s former allies have founded two new political parties in hopes of creating a more democratic nation. However, “they are likely to face formidable challenges.”
Myanmar military jets attacked four Christian villages in Chin State last weekend, killing 21 people and leaving many injured. As a result of the attacks, 2,000 people have fled the region. Hospitals are experiencing a shortage of medical supplies and are currently asking for support to treat the victims.
Israel: Israel swore in their new parliament Monday after the last national elections failed to give Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu enough seats to form a government. His rival Benny Gantz was chosen to form a governing coalition instead. Experts are worried that this will be a tough task, as the parties that Gantz will have to bring together have little in common besides their dislike for Netanyahu.
Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia’s National Anti-Corruption Commission arrested 298 government officials, including military and security personnel, on charges of bribery and exploiting public office. Some experts are worried that this will be a repeat of 2017 when Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrested many of his political opponents under the guise of cracking down on corruption.
Brazil: Brazilians are protesting against far-right President Bolsanaro’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis.