Globe Trot A summary of international news compiled by senior editor Mindy Belz

Pandemic centers on Europe and the U.S.

International | Travel restricted to the European Union for the next 30 days
by Mindy Belz
Posted 3/16/20, 04:21 pm

GLOBAL: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced a 30-day restriction on non-essential travel to the European Union, informing leaders in the Group of Seven of the travel ban in a video conference call on Monday—as Europe and the United States become the center of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Doctors and public health officials increasingly warn “the pandemic has reached a point where containment is no longer possible”—with two emergency room doctors in the United States in critical condition and the U.S. Supreme Court becoming the latest institution to postpone arguments over the coronavirus.
  • The dramatic story of the 2014 Ebola crisis, captured in Richard Preston’s Crisis in the Red Zone, is excerpted in WORLD’s weekly Saturday Series.
  • Maps from The New Humanitarian show how COVID-19 spread outside China from hubs in Iran and Italy. If you’ve studied any of such maps over recent weeks, you realize that how Europe looks now is likely how the United States will look in the next week.

SPAIN: Santiago Moreno, director of a hospital in Madrid, confessed that “we have sinned from too much confidence.” Spaniards thought an epidemic such as the novel coronavirus could spread in other places, like China, but not “in a country like ours.” Cultural conceit may be more behind the rapid spread in the West than government inaction, as Europeans and Americans have widely believed the pandemic “could not happen here” and that Asia lags in development and health infrastructure (not true).

ISRAEL: Joel Goldberg of the Netivah Center, a ministry in Tel Aviv working to gather Jewish, Christian, and Arab Israeli teens, said, “Last month we could gather 1,000 people, last week 100 people, and just a couple of days ago the prime minister announced we can only gather 10 people.” Netivah will use media, including videos to reach out to teenagers, “Even though we’re now unable to gather them all together,” he said.

IRAN: Ayatollah Hashem Bathayi Golpayegani, 78, died two days after testing positive for COVID-19 and being hospitalized. He was a member of Tehran’s Assembly of Experts, the body that appoints the supreme leader. In the last 24 hours, at least 129 people have died in Iran from the virus.

SYRIA enters its 10th year of war this week, with no end in sight. President Bashar al-Assad maintains there are zero cases of COVID-19 in the country, a doubtful claim judging by the outbreaks in neighboring Iran and Iraq. Fighting the spread of the novel coronavirus while helping the region’s 12 million displaced people in wartime is like “putting a Band-Aid on a jugular vein,” said one aid group head.

UNITED STATES: All 16 of the Dead Sea Scrolls fragments on display in a permanent exhibit at the Museum of the Bible are modern forgeries that duped outside collectors, the museum’s founder, and some of the world’s leading Biblical scholars, the museum announced at a conference it hosted on Friday. CEO Harry Hargrave said the museum is trying to be “as transparent as possible,” adding, “We’re victims—we’re victims of misrepresentation, we’re victims of fraud.”

Before the museum opened its doors in 2017, it paid a $3 million U.S. government fine and forfeited 3,500 cuneiform tablets that turned out to be of dubious origin. Hobby Lobby President Steve Green, chairman of the museum and with his family the main collector of its artifacts, faced criticism for buying up mass artifacts quickly at auctions.

NIGERIA: Some further details but no further update in the kidnapping of Saratu Zubairu, wife of the Anglican bishop of Bari Diocese in Kano State.

KENYA: In some happy news, my reporter daughter Emily is at Tenwek Hospital watching heart surgeons give new life to a 28-year-old with rheumatic heart disease.

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Mindy Belz

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.

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