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

The pandemic’s march

International | News and notes from around the world about the spread of the coronavirus
by Mindy Belz
Posted 3/19/20, 01:41 pm

GLOBAL: A reporter-friend noted to me, “There’s no place to go for outside perspective. Everyone is in this.” So true, and it’s a unique moment in my three decades of journalism, and we’ll try to keep you abreast of some of the too many latest events related to the coronavirus (including some heavenly perspective), plus the usual mix of mayhem and redemption. What it looks like when the world empties.

ITALY: On Feb. 21, 30 jurisdictions were reporting the novel coronavirus, and by Thursday midday, more than 150 countries report infection, with cases topping 229,000 (two days ago it was under 200,000). Italy crossed the 10,000-case threshold on March 10, the 20,000 mark on Saturday, and by Thursday it had 35,713 confirmed cases. With a nationwide lockdown now in place for 10 days, Italy is not yet seeing a downturn: Wednesday saw the highest number of new cases so far: 4,207.

“We need something good to happen, so we know we’re doing the right thing,” said Carla Maestrini, a nurse in Cremona. And one good thing has happened: a new mobile hospital in Cremona delivered by U.S. aid group Samaritan’s Purse.

UNITED STATES: Republicans and Democrats with Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin are working to come together to pass a stimulus bill aimed at bolstering a tanking U.S. economy—as two lawmakers have tested positive for the coronavirus, forcing many others into quarantine.

  • America appears to be tracking about 10 days behind Italy in its coronavirus spread, and you should be preparing how you will spend a total lockdown.
  • The U.S. Navy has deployed two hospital ships to New York City and to the West Coast.
  • President Donald Trump, in a briefing Thursday morning, announced that the Food and Drug Administration has approved chloroquine for use in treating COVID-19, which has shown “encouraging” results, he said, in early clinical trials.

SWITZERLAND: The UN will suspend refugee resettlement worldwide.

CHINA: Officials report no new locally transmitted cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, but there is evidence China is covering the extent of its spread—including expelling American journalists who might report on it.

IRAN also continues to downplay the scale of its coronavirus crisis. Satellite photos appear to show mass graves being dug for virus victims, and leaders blame the West, calling it an “American biological invasion.”

ISRAEL is taking a tough approach to battling the coronavirus, including hefty surveillance and tracking, but has not been spared a viral spread.

CUBA has confirmed its first COVID-19 death, and one American on the island is sick with the disease, but the Cuban government is minimizing the seriousness, with no quarantines in place and plans to continue welcoming cruise ships.

NIGERIA: A 17-year-old Christian abducted in January has escaped and returned to her family.

NEW ZEALAND: Parliament passed a law decriminalizing abortion, allowing women to terminate their pregnancies up to 20 weeks of gestation (voting record and details here).

STAYING IN: There are 2,500 world-class museums you can visit this weekend without leaving your home.

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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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