April 3, 2020
The Numbers: The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 has surpassed one million. The United States currently has the most cases in the world with a total of 265,506.
A Global Effort: Companies around the world are coming together to produce ventilators, hand sanitizer, and masks for health care professionals. Doctors are also traveling to different countries to help battle COVID-19; more than 29,000 Cuban doctors are currently working in 59 countries.
Cancellations: Countless tournaments and major sporting events have been canceled and postponed as an effect of the coronavirus. Wimbledon and the Olympics have been postponed for the first time since World War II.
Coronavirus: The government has implemented a three-week-long nationwide lockdown, causing people to flock to grocery stores. Zimbabwe is still experiencing the effects of a drought that occurred two years ago; there is a shortage of “maize meal, or mealie meal, a Zimbabwean staple.” Citizens are more worried about dying of hunger than the coronavirus. The ongoing economic crisis also poses a problem for the government; “Zimbabwe’s annual inflation soared to more than 500 percent in February.”
Economic Crisis: According to Zimbabwe’s Energy Minister, the nation “has paid the $33 million debt it owed to South Africa’s Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd.” Zimbabwe is now creating its plan to pay the debt it owes Mozambique.
Protests: Despite the lockdown, Lebanese citizens of Tripoli broke the curfew to protest against the lack of governmental compensation for businesses that have closed due to the coronavirus. Protesters are also demanding financial aid to cover rent and utility payments.
Human Rights: Sans-papiers in Lebanon have been denied the possibility to be tested for Coronavirus due to the high costs of the procedure. Some hospitals have confirmed that their policy is to turn away undocumented people, claiming that they are not in need of health care.
Riots: Several riots have occurred among prisoners in Iran over fears of contamination in prisons. Iran’s prison authority recently released over 100,000 prisoners to slow the spread of COVID-19 amongst inmates. Furlough excludes so-called “security cases,” including violent offenders, dual-nationals, and people with ties to western governments.
Sanctions: Iranian officials are pressing the United States to lift sanctions in order to properly treat coronavirus patients. Foreign Minister Javad Zarif referred to the sanctions as “economic terrorism,” as they are preventing Iran from purchasing necessary medical equipment. The country has more than 47,000 confirmed cases and more than 3,000 deaths.
The government has banned public gatherings of more than four people. Citizens are afraid that this will “be used to crack down on political dissent – and it appears to be happening already.” Protesters gathered on Tuesday to mark seven months since police randomly beat passengers on a train. The police quickly detained the protesters “to avoid the spread of the disease in society.”
Wuhan residents are suspecting that the Chinese government hasn’t been completely truthful about the number of virus-related deaths the country has seen in the past few months. As the two-month lockdown is coming to an end, citizens have noticed that crematoriums have been working nonstop. Radio Free Asia has estimated that 42,000 urns will be given out in a 12 day period, and “there have also been claims of city officials paying off families in exchange for their silence.”
United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo presented the “Democratic Transition Framework for Venezuela” on Tuesday. According to Pompeo, the plan “ends the suffering and opens a path to a brighter future for Venezuela.” It would replace both Maduro and Guaidó with a five-person council until the next presidential and parliamentary elections, which are set to take place in six months to one year. The framework would also require the US to lift sanctions so that Venezuela could strengthen its economy.
COVID-19: Tripoli has announced the liberation of 450 prisoners as a measure to limit the spread of the virus in prisons. The preventative measure was announced after Hanan Salah, Human Rights Watch’s senior researcher, reported that the Libyan Health Care system is not strong enough to cope with a large number of patients.
Missile Attack: On Wednesday, a Turkish warship fired missiles in Al-Ajaylat, “which is under the control of Field Marchal Khalifa Haftar.” Libyan news sources have said that the missiles could have initially been targeted at the Al-Watiya Air Force Base. There were no casualties.
Bolivians are getting increasingly frustrated with the government’s response to the coronavirus after completing two weeks in quarantine. Most Bolivians have lost their main source of income; they have yet to receive government assistance. Residents of Cochabamba even took to the streets to express their dissatisfaction.
As the coronavirus continues to wreak havoc around the world, Myanmar has “temporarily” suspended entry visas. It has also stopped all international flights from landing in the country. The government confirmed its first two cases of the virus just last week and the first death on Tuesday. More preventative measures are expected to be implemented in the near future.
The UN “has showered praise on Israel for is ‘excellent’ cooperation with the Palestinian Authority in fighting the coronavirus.” The two nations have implemented a mechanism that allows them to communicate “moment by moment” on all virus-related issues. However, the Palestinian delegation still slammed Israeli leaders, saying “occupation knows nothing of humanity.”
Prime Minister Abdil Abdul-Mahdi held a cabinet meeting on Sunday where he “warned that carrying out attacks and acts of war without the authorization of the Iraqi government is a clear violation of Iraq’s sovereignty.” Given that the coronavirus is a major threat to countries around the world, Abdul-Mahdi is adamant that violence within the country must decrease in order to more directly focus on treating patients.
While much of Latin America is closing its borders to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Nicaraguan officials are still considering the pandemic “overrated.” They are encouraging citizens to go about their everyday lives, and the government has yet to place a limit on large gatherings. Residents are begging the government to do more. In response to their pleas, President Ortega replaced his health minister on Wednesday.
According to South Korean officials, North Korea launched what was believed to be two short-range ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan on Sunday. South Korea’s Joint Chief of Staff has deemed the test to be “totally inappropriate behavior,” given that the world is grappling with a pandemic.
After US President Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin spoke this week, a Russian military plane carrying medical supplies landed in the US on Wednesday. The supplies included “60 tons of ventilators, masks, respirators, and other items.” However, an argument over the nature of the shipment quickly revived tensions between Trump and Putin. Trump called it “a very nice offer,” when in reality they were purchased from Russia at below-market prices.
US soldiers are pulling out of the third base this month in Iraq, leaving at least $1.1 million of equipment to Iraqi forces. More withdrawals are expected to take place in the near future. The current mission of the US army is to occupy only two bases in Iraq.
Ceasefire: Turkish armed forces hacked into a Syrian army radio broadcast to issue “a warning not to violate the de-escalation zone.” Turkey has continued to mobilize forces in Idlib “in case the agreement breaks down.”
Coronavirus: Syria’s Ministry of Health has reported its first virus-related death.
Hungary: Citing the urgency of the coronavirus pandemic, Hungary’s parliament has approved a bill to allow Prime Minister Viktor Orban to rule by decree with no end date. After this approval, Ursula von der Leyen warned that coronavirus emergency measures taken by countries in the EU must be “limited,” as the bill is explicitly circumventing democratic institutions in the EU.
Mexico: Maria Elena Ferral, a correspondent for the Diario del Xalapa daily newspaper, was shot and killed on Monday. Mexico is one of the most dangerous places in the world for a reporter to work; more than 100 journalists have been murdered since 2000.