File image of Rodrigo Duterte, president of Philippines | SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg
New Delhi: The novel coronavirus pandemic continues to devastate countries across the world — the latest count is over 2.08 crore cases and more than 7.47 lakh deaths.
US President Donald Trump has said that he is opposed to increasing funding for an agency that manages mail-in votes, raising doubts over the November election. Canadians are opposing the presence of Americans in their country. Singapore and Japan are likely to reopen business travel by September. Meanwhile, infections rise in Europe is leading to another wave of travel restrictions.
ThePrint brings you the most important global stories on the coronavirus pandemic and why they matter.
Trump to oppose funding of mail services, could jeopardise Nov poll
The plan to conduct the US presidential elections in November during the pandemic was largely banking on the country’s vast mail-in voting system managed by the US Postal Service (USPS). But President Donald Trump Thursday said that he is opposed to increasing funding for the USPS — essentially raising questions over the feasibility of the November election, reports ABC News.
This extra funding is necessary for USPS to be able to handle the millions of extra mail-in voting, which is likely to happen later this year. But his comments are in line with his previously held views — the president has vigorously opposed mail-in voting and has peddled conspiracy theories regarding it.
Also read: Yale University is accused of bias against Asian American and White applicants
In US, recession is over for rich, working classes still struggling
Economic data and other trends from the US suggest that the recession is largely over for the wealthy, but not quite for everybody else, reports Washington Post.
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“Jobs are fully back for the highest wage earners, but fewer than half the jobs lost this spring have returned for those making less than $20 an hour, according to a new labor data analysis by John Friedman, an economics professor at Brown University and co-director of Opportunity Insights,” notes the report.
“Though recessions almost always hit lower-wage workers the hardest, the pandemic is causing especially large gaps between rich and poor, and between White and minority households. It is also widening the gap between big and small businesses,” it adds.
Canadians don’t want US residents in their country
The uncontrolled pandemic in the US is leading to major border tensions at the US-Canada border, as Canadian citizens are demanding that Americans don’t enter their territory, reports the BBC.
For decades, the US and Canada have maintained an open border. While some border crossings, such as in the Western Canadian province of British Columbia were closed following the pandemic — hurting the border economies — the vast majority of Canadians support the move.
“A July poll by Ipsos Reid found that eight in ten Canadians wanted the border to stay closed until at least the end of 2020. And as the pandemic has continued to spread across the US, so have tensions between American drivers and Canadian residents,” says the report.
While only essential workers are allowed to cross the border, many with US license plates have been harassed and their vehicles vandalised in Canada.
Also read: Brazil is a Covid mess but its economy is still outperforming
European second wave is stifling the travel reopening
A few weeks ago, almost all countries within the European Union had begun to ease their travel restrictions. But now as many of them are beginning to grapple with a second wave, travel restrictions are coming back into force, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Italy is the most recent country to mandate coronavirus tests for all visitors coming from hotspots or countries where infections are rising. Most countries are now advising their citizens against travelling to Spain, which currently has the highest infection rate among all Western European nations.
Not too long ago, a diplomatic row erupted between Spain and the UK, after London mandated visitors from Spain to undergo a compulsory quarantine period. More recently, the UK has added France to the quarantine list, reports the Financial Times. France retaliated by announcing that it would also introduce a voluntary quarantine for British visitors.
Boris Johnson faces tough questions over the economy
The recently released economic numbers in the UK are posing tough questions for Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government, reports Washington Post.
“To understand why Britain has spiraled into the deepest recession of its modern history, go for a stroll in central London, no longer a ghost town but still a shadow of its once-bustling self,” says the report. “Unquestionably, Britain has been laid low by the coronavirus, easily the hardest hit of any European nation, both in public health and the economy.”
The UK has witnessed the deepest quarterly decline among all European countries. Part of it can be explained by the late enforcement of lockdown by the Johnson government.
“But Britain’s economic woes are also linked to its broader ordeal with the virus. Because its outbreak was so widespread, prolonged and deadly, economists said, the fear of contagion continues to be higher in Britain than elsewhere,” adds the report. Most Britons are still reluctant to go back to normal lives.
Also read: This is what Israel, UAE and US get from the diplomatic breakthrough in Middle East
Duterte to skip Russian vaccine trial
The Philippines under President Rodrigo Duterte is emerging as one of the key customers of Russia’s recently developed Covid vaccine. While the country will soon begin large-scale human testing of that vaccine, the president himself has decided to skip the trial until it has been cleared by the health regulators, reports the Straits Times.
“Mr Duterte had offered himself up as a guinea pig for the very first jab, expressing “huge trust” in the vaccine, despite growing scepticism about its effectiveness. But his spokesman Harry Roque said the president was scheduled to receive the vaccine no earlier than May 1 (2021) – weeks after the Russian-funded Phase 3 clinical trial in the archipelago is due to end in March,” says the report.
Though the Russian President Vladimir Putin himself didn’t take the vaccine, he made a political statement by claiming that his daughter had been given the dosage.
Japan and Singapore to reopen business travel in September
The Japanese and Singaporean foreign ministers announced Thursday that they are working towards reopening business travel between the countries by September, reports the Nikkei Asian Review. If they succeed, this would mean the resumption of travel between Asia’s two key financial hubs.
“It represents Tokyo’s first agreement with another country to resume reciprocal travel since the pandemic began. Japan has imposed sweeping limits on entry by foreign nationals during the coronavirus pandemic but now looks to open limited access through so-called air bridges or travel bubbles,” explains the report.
Can New Zealand beat the virus again?
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern received a lot of applause for emerging as one of the first countries to announce that her country was Covid-free. Now two weeks before she faces an election, infections are rising. Can her country repeat the previous success, asks a report in the New York Times.
The country has already announced a lockdown and aggressive testing and tracing. “New Zealand, while disappointed by the abrupt resurgence, has reacted with an extraordinary level of urgency and action that it hopes will be a model for how to eliminate a burst of infection and rapidly get on with life,” says the report.
What else we are reading:
Indonesia capital Jakarta extends social restrictions as Covid-19 infections rise: Straits Times
Welcome to your college freshman year. It’s probably not what you envisaged: Washington Post
The Swedish staycation obsession: BBC
Also read: Any TikTok deal must provide total security and substantially benefit US, says Donald Trump
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