China responds with words and promises of aid, while America goes alone.
The World Health Organization’s annual meeting, which ended on Tuesday, was dominated by feuds as the United States intensified threats of isolation and China responded to criticism.
President Trump threatened to permanently cut all funds to the organization in a letter posted on Twitter late Monday evening, a dramatic escalation in his repeated efforts to blame the W.H.O. and China for their management of the pandemic.
He reiterated his criticisms of the White House on Tuesday, saying that the W.H.O. will have to “clean up their act, they must do a better job.” They must be much fairer to other countries, including the United States, or we will not be involved with them and we will do it separately. “
In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Tuesday that the United States had “miscalculated” and said the letter had misled the public and slandered China.
Mr. Trump’s letter contained lies and misleading statements. He wrote that W.H.O. Systematically ignored credible information about the spread of the virus in Wuhan in early December 2019 or even earlier, including reports from the Lancet medical journal. “
But in a statement, Lancet said the journal “did not publish any reports in December 2019, referring to a virus or an epidemic in Wuhan or elsewhere in China.” The newspaper said its first reports on the virus were released on January 24, just four days before the W.H.O. declared an international emergency.
At W.H.O. Meeting on Tuesday, member states agreed to launch an investigation into the global response to the pandemic. The resolution, sponsored by the European Union and supported by more than 100 countries, was adopted without objection.
The resolution calls for an “impartial, independent and comprehensive assessment” of the international response to the virus, including by the W.H.O.
In a statement, the United States welcomed the resolution and said it was a mandate to investigate the origins of the virus, a subject the resolution itself does not mention. Trump insisted that the agency investigate allegations that the virus was created in a Chinese laboratory.
Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Monday that such an investigation should wait until the health crisis is brought under control. The head of the W.H.O., Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said the assessment would start “as soon as possible.”
Xi also announced at the start of the meeting that Beijing would donate $ 2 billion to fight the coronavirus. The move was seen – especially by US officials – as an attempt by China to prevent further scrutiny.
The University of Cambridge announced on Tuesday that it will not hold a face-to-face conference for the next academic year.
The lectures will be available online, and some small teaching groups can meet in person, the university said in a statement.
“This decision has been made now to facilitate planning, but as always, it will be reconsidered if the official advice on coronavirus changes,” the statement said.
In the United States, for example, some schools return students with promises to test students and track infections.
Others don’t run courses at all: California State University, America’s largest four-year public university system, courses will be held almost exclusively online this fall, with a few exceptions for clinical courses in the nursing program or some science labs. In Canada, McGill University in Montreal has announced that it will offer most of its courses online in September.
Other schools are considering adapting in different ways, including having fever checkpoints at the entrances to university buildings, one-way paths through the grassy quad, and requiring masks in classrooms and the dining rooms.
Tom Moore, the 100-year-old former British army officer who raised $ 40 million for the British National Health Service by walking 100 laps of a patio next to his garden, is expected to be knighted by Queen Elizabeth II, an honor that completes her transformation from media sensation as a national hero.
He was recommended as a knight by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the government will announce the honor on Wednesday.
“Colonel Tom’s fantastic fundraiser has broken records, inspired the whole country and provided us all with a beacon through the fog of the coronavirus,” said Johnson in a statement. “On behalf of all those who have been touched by her incredible story, I want to thank you very much. “
Mr. Moore’s campaign, which started a few weeks before his 100th birthday, caught fire after being posted on an online charity service. It has become extremely popular good news in a country particularly affected by the pandemic.
Moore, who served as captain in the Burmese campaign during World War II, has already received several awards for his success, including being named honorary colonel of the Army Foundation College.
He said in a previous interview that he wanted to recognize those on the front lines, “just as we were supported” during the Second World War.
People arriving from the United States were instrumental in the dissemination of Covid-19, a national genomic study of the Israeli cases revealed.
the The analysis, led by biologists from Tel Aviv University, sequenced the genomes of virus samples from a representative random group of more than 200 patients in six hospitals across the country, and then compared them to samples sequenced worldwide.
The results, which have not yet been peer-reviewed, questioned the Israeli government’s decision to admit travelers from the United States until March 9, although visitors from some European countries have were banned from February 26.
While only 27% of all travelers tested positive for the virus had arrived from the United States, more than 70% of the sequenced virus samples originated there.
If American travelers had been banned just as quickly, the researchers concluded, “a substantial fraction of the transmission chains in Israel would have been prevented.”
The study also found that so-called super-diffusers in Israel have been unusually powerful: while with many viruses, 20% of patients are often responsible for 80% of cases, according to researchers, data on Israeli coronaviruses showed that only 5% of patients were responsible for the spread of the disease to 80% of those ultimately infected.
Israel has reported 16,650 cases and 277 deaths from the coronavirus.
The study also suggested that the country was far from reaching collective immunity, said lead author Dr. Adi Stern. According to a statistical model developed by researchers on the basis of genetic sequencing, no more than 1% of the population has contracted the virus, she said.
On the positive side, the study estimates that slamming the door on tourists, enforcing social distancing rules and blocking citizens has cut the rate of transmission of the virus in Israel by two-thirds. Dr. Stern said he stressed “how important it is to follow quarantine measures where possible and to close the borders.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday that the border between his country and the United States would remain closed for at least a month after the two countries reached an agreement to extend its closure.
Several Canadian provincial leaders have recently declared their opposition to the rapid reopening of the border. The epidemic in the United States is much more serious; the United States has reported approximately 463 cases per 100,000 population, more than double the number of Canadians.
Trudeau said at a press conference that the closure had protected people on both sides of the border. He added that US officials had been “completely open” to the extension.
Trudeau refused to speculate on when the measure could be lifted definitively.
“At every step, we have to make the right decisions based on the circumstances,” he said.
This has caused frustration, especially among spouses who have been separated by its restrictions.
A crushing cyclone hit the Bay of Bengal on Tuesday, heading for a swampy strip along the India-Bangladesh border and threatening to set off 165 mph winds and massive flooding when it hits Wednesday.
The power of the storm is not the only threat, as Cyclone Amphan is approaching coastal areas. It also poses a risk to the response to the coronavirus as hundreds of thousands of people begin to move to emergency shelters.
In the eastern Indian state of Odisha, authorities have fewer shelters to work with, as many have been turned into Covid-19 quarantine centers. Authorities are struggling to evacuate people and prepare for floods and destruction, while remaining under partial lockdown. Some shelters were only 50% full for fear of spreading the coronavirus to dense neighborhoods.
Meteorologists said the cyclone, which is expected to pass through Kolkata, one of India’s largest cities, is weakening as it gets closer to land, but could intensify overnight.
In Bangladesh, officials said the storm could cause torrential rain in the muddy wooden shacks of the approximately one million Rohingya refugees living in Cox’s Bazar. These refugees fled the massacres of ethnic origin in Myanmar in 2017 and have been rendered stateless, trapped in limbo in squalid camps that have been flooded over and over again.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson argues that debating in Parliament was once a rude affair, as his Conservative backbenchers booed against his rivals and cheered him on like a classmate in a backyard fight school. Nowadays, to his obvious regret, this is more like a legal statement.
Clashing in a quiet room against the lawyer who became the opposition leader, Keir Starmer, Mr. Johnson had to undergo a weekly forensic grill on his handling of the coronavirus. The social distance from Parliament means that most of the 650 members participate remotely, transforming a gladiatorial arena, in which Mr. Johnson was once a big cat, into Mr. Starmer’s courtroom.
Mr. Starmer, 57, used all his skills in the courtroom against his opponent, starting with the prosecutor’s technique of trapping the witness with a question to which you already know the answer.
“Can the Prime Minister tell us: how the hell did he get there? Starmer asked two weeks ago, after noting that Britain’s death toll is among the highest in the world.
Johnson replied that direct country-to-country comparisons were not valid and that the true human cost of the pandemic could only be assessed after the fact.
Jumping from his seat, Starmer noted that the government had been doing these exact comparisons for weeks, when the death toll in Britain was relatively better. Mr. Johnson’s argument, he concluded, “just doesn’t really hold water.”
His friends had posted on social networks: the milk tea shops had reopened! Wuhan was coming back!
But when Rosanna Yu, 28, took a sip of her first order in two months, she was not impressed. “Have you forgotten how to make milk tea?” She joked on WeChat in late March. “How is it so bad?” “
Yet disappointing milk tea is better than nothing. And while normalcy and good bubble tea may still be out of reach, just the prospect has Ms. Yu feeling energized.
She recently took a video of the long queue at a local restaurant for “hot dry noodles”, Wuhan’s signature dish. She has to take a break from traffic before crossing the street – a burden that has never felt so bad.
“Seeing a lot of cars, I’m really happy,” she said.
His optimism was born, in part, from luck. None of his friends or family has been infected. Locking was difficult at first, but she got distracted by learning how to bake crullers and buns.
Certain things are undeniably more difficult. Ms. Yu quit her job as secretary last year, planning to look for a new one in January. But her parents now want her to wait until fall, for safety reasons.
She rarely sees friends, because there is nowhere to go; dining in restaurants is not allowed.
But for the most part, Ms. Yu embraced the new normal of Wuhan. She plans to continue cooking. She can take online courses.
And she has a new relationship with her neighbors. During the segregation, residents who were barbers offered free haircuts. The neighborhood discussion group, formed to coordinate bulk grocery shopping, has become a virtual support circle.
“It was the first time I felt like the whole neighborhood, and all of Wuhan, all together, worked for the same purpose,” said Ms. Yu.
“I look like a witch with this hair! 78-year-old Vettraino said Monday while holding streaks the color of Campari.
And perhaps nowhere is this passion for primping as strongly felt as in Italy, where – in the midst of battles between national and regional governments, concerns about a resurgence of the epidemic and fears of an upcoming economic disaster – Italians hailed Monday’s opening as luck for a great embellishment.
Italy is a capital of hairdressing, with 104,000 hair salons and tens of thousands of other beauty salons for nail care, eyebrow threading, hair removal and body massage, according to a government study by the agency representing the Chamber of Commerce.
On Monday, Italy authorized an unlimited number of trips to each region and allowed businesses to open in most of the country. Many restaurants have decided not to open because rules requiring tables to be spaced 6.5 feet apart would make profit impossible. But the salons had customers.
Forties has become a way of life for millions of people around the world. From now on, the books will also be isolated.
Waterstones, a British bookstore, said it will set aside books or other picked items from its shelves for at least 72 hours when its stores finally reopen, to minimize the risk of the virus spreading.
James Daunt, chief executive of Waterstones, said in an interview on Tuesday that customers who pick up a book – but do not buy it – will be asked to put it on a cart. The items in the carts will then be brought to the back of the bookstore and left there “for a few days,” he said.
Bookstores around the world have tried to adapt. Some have offered street curbside pickup or delivery. Others have reconfigured their provisions to separate people.
Mr. Daunt said he did not know when Waterstones would reopen. But he said the clients would receive hand sanitizers and be socially removed.
“There will be a very limited number of customers that we will allow at any given time,” said Daunt of his bookstores.
Prince Charles, eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II and heir to the British throne, urged people across the country to join a government campaign to find agricultural work to “choose Britain ”and save the season’s crops as the country faces a shortage of migrant workers.
“If we are to harvest British produce this year, we need an army of people to help,” said Prince Charles in a message on Tuesday.
“Food does not happen by magic,” he said, adding that crucial work would sometimes be inglorious and difficult.
George Eustice, the British Cabinet Minister responsible for food and agriculture, said last month that Britain has only a third of its typical migrant farm labor force due to the closure of the coronavirus.
Germany, where up to 300,000 migrant workers from Eastern Europe usually arrive to harvest asparagus, pick strawberries and plant late-season crops, has its own solution: it allows farmers to airlift workers from Romania and Bulgaria. Farmers must organize and pay for charter flights, and the program was capped at 40,000 workers per month in April and May.
The move alleviated the labor shortage, but did not resolve it. Cost and logistical difficulties have resulted in only about 28,000 workers being flown so far, far below the number needed. She also raised concerns about the importation of infections and the exploitation of vulnerable workers.
Wang Zhigang, Chinese minister of science and technology, spoke on Tuesday at one of the first ministerial press conferences before the annual session of the National People’s Congress, the country’s legislature, which begins Friday.
“We have developed the test kits from the start, but it may take a little longer and may have lower sensitivity,” he said. “We are gradually improving it during later use and adding new technical elements, solving the problem: high sensitivity, rapid detection.”
China has experienced a separate series of scandals in recent years regarding fraudulent university research, but none so far concerning the coronavirus. Wang said at the end of his press conference that even if he believed that almost all Chinese researchers were honest, the authorities would respond with all the force of law if another scandal occurred.
“For some people, they are not worthy of the name of scientists, we have zero tolerance for them,” he said.
Just one week after the reopening of many schools in France, the discovery of 70 cases of coronavirus in classrooms across the country forced the authorities to close some nursery and elementary schools.
The cases are distributed throughout France, from Brittany to the west to Nice to the south, in the latest example of the challenge facing European countries in reopen their societies while seeking to avoid new waves of infections.
Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer said on Monday that such developments were “inevitable”, but that cases remained a minority among the 150,000 students who returned to school last Monday.
“The consequences of not going back to school are much more serious,” Blanquer said on RTL radio.
Although schools are not considered to be a major source of epidemics in Europe, countries that relaxed restrictions last week, such as France and Spain, are watching closely for signs of an increase in coronavirus cases.
Britain’s first students could return to school on June 1, and Gavin Williamson, the country’s education secretary, used the example of Denmark, whose students were the first in Europe to return to school in mid-April to advocate for the reopening.
Museums and galleries across Europe have started to reopen, but the disruption is not yet over.
The Venice Biennale announced Monday that it has postponed two of its main international exhibitions: the architecture biennial will now open in May 2021 instead of this month; the next biennial of contemporary art has been postponed to April 2022 from May 2021.
The delay in the architecture biennial organizers said the pandemic had closed architecture studios and universities, and participants had accepted health regulations and travel restrictions.
“I hope the new opening date will allow them to catch their breath first, and then finish their work with the time and vigor it really deserves,” said organizer, Lebanese architect Hashim. Sarkis. “We didn’t plan it that way. “
The list includes the Shakespeare’s Globe, a London theater that opened in 1997 as a large-scale replica of the original from 1599 where many plays by Shakespeare were first performed.
“Although they are well managed, well governed and – and most importantly – capable of operating without public subsidy, we will not be able to survive this crisis,” the Globe said in a statement. submission to a British parliamentary committee published Monday.
The Globe’s comments appeared a few days after Matthew Warchus, the art director of the Old Vic, another famous London theater, said he was facing “a difficult and even perilous year ahead, fighting for our survival like so many others in the cultural sector”.
The crisis of cultural institutions is not limited to Europe. Carriageworks, a major art space in Sydney, said this month that he had been forced into voluntary administration after the lockout resulted in “irreparable loss of income.”
“Planning for uncertainty is the most difficult part, as we are going to open up to an uncertain landscape,” she said.
On April 14, in a residential area of Kawasaki, Japan, Takehiro Shimada did the unthinkable. He turned off the lights and locked the doors of the 7-Eleven that he has owned and operated for over 20 years.
It is a relief to the store owners who were already working grueling hours for the meager returns before the virus hit and who have since seen business dry up while Japanese workers take shelter in their state of emergency.
“This is an opportunity for people to shorten their hours,” said Shimada in a recent video call from his crowded warehouse. “The declaration of emergency is the reason, the best possible reason. “
However, as Japan decided last week to lift the declaration in much of the country, some franchisees were wondering if the change of opinion would last longer than the pandemic.
The reports were provided by Stephen Castle, Mark Landler, Ian Austen, David Halbfinger, Mihir Zaveri, Karen Zraick, Iliana Magra, Hisako Ueno, Ben Dooley, Sameer Yasir, Jeffrey Gettleman, Jason Farago, Mike Ives, Elian Peltier, Jason Horowitz, Elisabetta Povoledo, Emma Bubola, Megan Specia, Steven Erlanger, Aurelien Breeden, Katrin Bennhold, Christopher Schuetze, Andrew Jacobs, Michael D. Shear, Edward Wong, Anatoly Kurmanaev, José Maria León, Safak Timur, Melissa Eddy, Dan Levin, Maria Abi-Habib, Keith Bradsher and Victor Mather.