Deploying drastic measures
International | Africa reacts to the coronavirus pandemic as it remembers AIDS and Ebola
by Mindy Belz
Posted 3/26/20, 01:58 pm
SOUTH AFRICA: President Cyril Ramaphosa has tested negative for the coronavirus, just hours before the country began a 21-day nationwide lockdown enforced by the military. It and other African nations—vivid with memories of the 1980s AIDS epidemic and recent Ebola outbreaks—are deploying drastic measures. The pandemic reaches the world’s poorest countries at a time when U.S. and European health workers are consumed with their own outbreaks and shortages.
SYRIA: COVID-19 is heading to war-ravaged Idlib province like a “slow moving tsunami,” according to the World Health Organization. Medical facilities are decimated, but one American nongovernmental organization working there has received government approval to provide diagnosis and care for coronavirus patients, with test kits on the way.
ITALY: At least 30 Catholic priests have died from COVID-19, including 19 from hard-hit Bergamo. Don Giuseppe Berardelli was one of them, a 72-year-old priest who declined a ventilator so it could be used on a younger patient.
SPAIN extended emergency measures to April 12 as the country overtook China with the highest number of deaths—more than 4,000—after Italy.
UNITED STATES: David Beasley, executive director of the UN World Food Program, has tested positive for the coronavirus. The former governor of South Carolina keeps a steady travel schedule, this month visiting Syria, Jordan, and Canada, where he had contact with up to 30 members of the House of Commons, with several, as a result, now in quarantine.
- The World Food Program is mapping global restrictions on travel.
- More than 4,000 foreign doctors chosen for residencies in U.S. hospitals have had their training—now desperately needed—put on hold. The State Department has suspended processing J-1 visas amid the coronavirus pandemic.
CHINA: Residents in Hubei province welcomed relaxed travel restrictions, but the pandemic specialist team has not left the area, as Wuhan continues to discover new asymptomatic cases daily. Such cases are not included in China’s overall case count.
An unnamed source has leaked the first photo from prison of pastor Wang Yi, the Early Rain Covenant Church leader jailed since December 2018, showing a dramatic weight loss.
TURKEY: Şimoni Diril was laid to rest in Istanbul, after her body was found in Turkey, 70 days after she and her husband were kidnapped on Jan. 11 from their village in Sirnak province. The elderly Assyrian couple vanished from Mehr in southeastern Turkey, where they were among the last Christians living there.
IRAN: Former FBI agent Robert Levinson has died in Iranian custody, according to family members. Levinson, captured while working as a CIA contractor in 2007, became the longest-held American hostage in 2013. Family members believe he died before the COVID-19 pandemic hit Iran.
MALAYSIA: Pastor Raymond Koh was kidnapped three years ago, a shocking case that has unified the Malaysian church and awakened it to injustices in a country whose government most don’t consider extremist.
NEW ZEALAND: Brenton Tarrant, the white supremacist charged with killing 51 worshipers at two mosques in Christchurch last year, in a surprise move has changed his plea to guilty.
FRANCE: French comic book artist Albert Uderzo, who created the Asterix comics in 1959 with the writer René Goscinny, has died.
EVERYWHERE: Much of the year’s international reporting has touched on riots and street uprisings, and now the world is one “great empty.”
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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.