An open and shut world
International | COVID-19 affects border crossings, bombing plans, prison sentences, even a friendly game of tennis
by Mindy Belz
Posted 4/20/20, 03:59 pm
NORTH AMERICA: The United States, Mexico, and Canada are extending non-essential travel restrictions across their shared borders for an additional 30 days, according to U.S. Department of Homeland Security acting Secretary Chad Wolf. He said those and other restrictions “remain critical” to slowing the spread of the coronavirus. With protests in key cities calling for loosening restrictions, the White House released its “Open Up America Again” plan.
Several dozen outside experts indicate the United States faces “a doleful future” with COVID-19 currently clocking in as the third leading cause of death. New York Times science reporter Donald G. McNeil Jr. said that restoring economic and public health will depend on “a carefully staggered approach to reopening, widespread testing and surveillance, a treatment that works, adequate resources for health care providers—and eventually an effective vaccine.”
With the head of the World Health Organization warning on Monday, “The worst is yet ahead of us,” it might be time to revisit Tomas Pueyo’s March 19 piece that’s so far holding and indicates the United States isn’t yet to the “dancing” part.
INDIA recorded its biggest single-day spike in coronavirus cases on Monday, as the government began easing one of the world’s strictest lockdowns to allow some industry and farming to resume.
ISRAEL: Onetime rivals Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz on Monday formed a unity government that ends a political impasse amid the country’s coronavirus outbreak. The arrangement allows Netanyahu to remain prime minister for 18 months before turning over the office to Gantz. It’s the only office Netanyahu legally can hold while under indictment, with his scheduled trial now delayed due to the pandemic lockdown.
HONG KONG: Chinese authorities arrested more than a dozen leaders of Hong Kong’s democracy movement over the weekend in a sweep signaling a new crackdown on protests.
CHINA: Anger—and lawsuits—are building in Wuhan, as residents demand government accountability for delays in reporting on the new coronavirus. Officials revised the Wuhan death toll on Friday, but enduring concern remains that the government is underreporting the toll.
IRAQ: The Pentagon has put on hold a bombing campaign against Iranian-backed militants in Iraq because of the pandemic.
IRAN: Authorities pardoned a third Christian from serving the remainder of a prison sentence due to COVID-19. Evin Prison officials notified Fatemeh Bakhteri, halfway through a 12-month jail sentence for “propaganda against the regime,” that she need not return to serve her sentence.
NORTH KOREA: This month’s annual North Korea Freedom Week is still happening, highlighted by a day of prayer and fasting on April 28, a letter-writing campaign, and other virtual events.
ITALY: The nets have come down and the courts are closed where I live, but Italians are innovating their way to playing tennis in quarantine.
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Mindy wrote WORLD Magazine's first cover story in 1986 and went on to serve as international editor, editor, and now senior editor. She has covered wars in Syria, Afganistan, Africa, and the Balkans, and she recounts some of her experiences in They Say We Are Infidels: On the Run from ISIS with Persecuted Christians in the Middle East. Mindy resides with her husband, Nat, in Asheville, N.C. Follow her on Twitter @mcbelz.