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Here’s how Wuhan tested 6.5 million people for the coronavirus in days.
The Wuhan government is close to completing its citywide testing drive. Thousands of medical and other workers were mobilized in a feat that some health experts and residents had initially questioned.
But medical workers armed with coronavirus test swabs have scoured construction sites and markets to look for itinerant workers while others made house calls to reach older residents and people with disabilities. Officials aired announcements over loudspeakers urging people to sign up for their own good.
The unprecedented campaign aims to screen virtually all 11 million people in Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the coronavirus pandemic began just two weeks ago. And the government is making progress toward that goal, with 6.5 million tested so far.
“Our community was checked in a day,” said Wang Yuan, a 32-year-old resident who lined up under red tents near her home and had her throat swabbed by medical workers wearing protective suits and face shields. She expected to get her results within two to four days.
While other governments have struggled to provide testing for their populations on a broad scale, China has embarked on a citywide campaign to prevent a resurgence of infections at all costs. It has succeeded, according to residents and Chinese news reports, by mobilizing thousands of medical and other workers and spending hundreds of millions of dollars.
The government, which is covering the cost of testing, sees the drive as key to the restoration of public confidence that is needed to help restart the economy and return to some level of normalcy. But public health experts disagree on whether such a resource-intensive push is necessary when infections are low.
The drive — which has reached more than 90 percent of the city after taking into account people who had been recently tested and children — has largely confirmed that Wuhan has tamed the outbreak. By Tuesday, only around 200 cases had been found, mostly people who showed no symptoms, though samples were still being processed.
In other China news:
Apps used to track Chinese citizens who might be spreading the virus are becoming a permanent fixture of everyday life, one with the potential to be used in troubling and invasive ways.
Young people are facing what might be the country’s toughest job market in the modern era. Finding work for them has become a major priority for Chinese leaders, who have promised a better life in exchange for a lack of political freedom.
Leaders face increasing scrutiny over their own adherence to lockdown rules.
As top officials revisit their response to the constantly shifting coronavirus pandemic, they are coming under increasing scrutiny not just for their broader policy approaches but for their personal willingness — or not — to abide by the restrictions they’ve imposed.
In Britain, the apparent breach of lockdown rules by Dominic Cummings, a top aide to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, has ignited a political firestorm. Mr. Cummings held a news conference on Monday to confirm reports he traveled more than 250 miles from his home with his wife and child during the lockdown, but he pointedly declined to apologize. Mr. Johnson has defended him.
The issue has opened a rift in the governing Conservative Party, with at least 35 lawmakers from the party condemning Mr. Cummings and a junior government minister resigning his post on Tuesday in protest.
Earlier this month, Neil Ferguson, an epidemiologist who was advising the British government, stepped down after it was revealed that he had broken lockdown rules to meet his married lover.
The Polish government had to apologize last week after Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki tweeted photos of himself sitting down to a meal with three colleagues at a recently reopened restaurant and encouraged others to visit local establishments. Observers soon pointed out he was not observing required social distancing.
Leo Varadkar, Ireland’s caretaker prime minister, was targeted by some tabloids and critics on social media and accused of violating his country’s lockdown rules when he picnicked in a Dublin park over the weekend with his partner and friends.
But the government rejected claims that Mr. Varadkar, who reactivated his registration as a medical doctor to help with the coronavirus response, had broken the rules. Mr. Varadkar’s outing was within the five kilometer travel limit from the government lodge where he is staying, the government said, and social distancing rules were observed.
Other leaders have kept strictly to lockdown rules despite difficult personal circumstances. Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands was largely unable to visit his dying mother because he obeyed restrictions that he imposed, although he was able to see her on her final night, in keeping with Dutch practice.
Mr. Biden, 77, and his advisers have said they intend to abide by the public safety recommendations that have, so far, made rallies and other campaign events impossible.
The U.S. travel ban on Brazil takes effect within hours.
United States travel restrictions aimed at Brazil were scheduled to go into effect on Tuesday night, as the South American country struggled to contain the spread of the coronavirus amid relentless political turmoil and a plummeting economy.
The restrictions prohibit the entry of foreigners, with some exceptions, who were in Brazil in the two weeks before their arrival at the American border.
Brazil last week became the nation with the second-highest number of confirmed Covid-19 cases, behind the United States.
The Brazilian government has appeared rudderless in the face of the pandemic, with President Jair Bolsonaro taking a cavalier attitude toward the virus, snubbing social distancing protocols and urging Brazilians to effectively ignore local lockdown orders.
Political dysfunction has added to the crisis. The last two health ministers left office — one was fired, the other resigned — following clashes with Mr. Bolsonaro over the best strategies to deal with the pandemic.
In further cabinet tumult, Mr. Bolsonaro’s justice minister resigned in late April after accusing the president of trying to assert improper control over the Federal Police for political gain. The resignation, and the minister’s allegations, have spurred an investigation into the president.
On Friday, the Supreme Court justice overseeing the inquiry released a video of an April 22 cabinet meeting that has been offered as evidence that Mr. Bolsonaro was trying to interfere with the police to shield his friends and family from investigators.
In the video, Mr. Bolsonaro suggested, using coarse language, that it was his right to replace security officials.
“If you can’t replace the official, change his boss,” he said. “You can’t change the boss? Change the minister. End of story. We’re not kidding around.”
The economic outlook for Brazil is grim, with analysts warning that the increasingly intertwined health and political crises could drive the nation into a deep recession. More than a million Brazilians have lost their jobs amid the pandemic, and the real, Brazil’s currency, has plunged more than 30 percent since January, making it the world’s worst-performing currency.
As the virus has ebbed in the United States and Europe, Latin America has emerged as its new epicenter, the director of the Pan American Health Organization, Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, said on Monday.
She noted that the region has “surpassed Europe and the United States in the daily number of reported coronavirus infections — numbers we suspect are even higher than we know,” because of a lack of a testing.
A young doctor’s death ignites public outrage in Egypt.
For months, Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country, managed to avoid the worst of the pandemic. Now the strain is showing.
The death of a young doctor who was refused treatment for Covid-19 at an overwhelmed hospital has triggered a revolt by medical staff over the government’s failures to provide protective equipment and training for front line workers.
Egypt’s health system is veering toward catastrophic collapse, the main doctors’ union warned, in a statement that accused the ministry of “criminal” negligence — strong words in a country where the authorities have strictly policed any criticism of their response to the virus.
Relatives of the doctor who died over the weekend, Walid Yehia, 32, issued pleas on Facebook for greater care, noting that he had been unable to access emergency treatment as his condition declined.
The swift admission of a prominent actress, Ragaa el-Gedawy, after she showed symptoms of the disease, further fueled public anger and perceptions that the care of elite Egyptians is prioritized.
Egypt’s health minister, Hala Zayed, said that the government was “following up to provide the best possible care” to its doctors, and that at least 20 beds in every hospital treating the virus would be reserved for sick medical staff.
As well as assuaging doctors, the government has sought to silence them. On Monday, the state-run Al Ahram newspaper sought to discredit a doctor who had resigned on Facebook in protest at the death of his colleague, portraying the doctor as a supporter of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. The doctor’s Facebook account has since been closed.
Russia sets a new date for victory parades, even as infections rise.
Gambling that Russia can contain its coronavirus outbreak, President Vladimir V. Putin on Tuesday ordered that military parades to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Russian victory over Nazi Germany — originally scheduled for May 9 but canceled because of the pandemic — go ahead next month across the country.
But it has slowed the outbreak slightly over the past week, a trend that Mr. Putin hopes will hold long enough to limit the risks of allowing tens of thousands of soldiers to march through Moscow’s Red Square and to take part in smaller parades in other cities.
Mr. Putin, in a video conference with his defense minister shown on state television, said the parades would now be held on June 24, the date chosen by the Soviet dictator Stalin for the Red Army’s first Red Square victory parade in 1945. Mr. Putin described that event as “a legendary historical parade of the victors” who “liberated Europe.”
Separate marches by millions of ordinary Russians whose relatives fought during World War II, a conflict known in Russia as the Great Patriotic War, will be held a month later, Mr. Putin said. The delay until July 26 of the so-called Immortal Regiment marches, Mr. Putin said, was necessary to reduce the danger of having so many people on the streets at one time.
Even so, it is far from certain that Russia will have put the pandemic behind it by late June or even July, despite a flurry of reports on Kremlin-controlled media outlets in recent days trumpeting what they present as Russia’s victory over the virus. Official figures showing a remarkably low death toll compared with the United States and European countries have been hailed as evidence of a “Russian miracle.”
Mr. Putin has put celebration of Russia’s wartime sacrifice and victory at the center of a political program built around often strident patriotism and denunciation of his opponents as traitors. State television has been saturated for weeks with reports of wartime heroism and sometimes vicious attacks on anyone who challenges Russia’s status as Europe’s savior.
Stock markets rally, with a focus on reopenings.
The S&P 500 rose nearly 2 percent, with shares of companies most likely to benefit from the lifting of restrictions on travel and commerce faring well. Shares of Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and other big carriers rose, as did Marriott International.
Oil prices, which have been climbing all month, continued their rebound as the restarting of factories and resumption of travel has raised expectations that demand will rise. West Texas intermediate crude rose another 1 percent, and shares of companies in the energy industry, like Chevron and Halliburton, were also higher.
It’s been a turbulent period for stocks, with the S&P 500 swinging from gains to losses and back each day last week, as expectations for an eventual recovery from the coronavirus pandemic have squared off against the reality that the damage is still severe and likely to continue for some time.
News of progress on vaccine development — albeit small-scale and early-stage — has been one factor fueling the gains. Tuesday was no exception, after the biotech company Novavax said on Monday that it was starting trials of its vaccine on humans, with preliminary results expected in July. It is one of a number of drugmakers racing to test promising vaccine programs.
The reopening of businesses has been another. One largely symbolic opening on Tuesday was that of the New York Stock Exchange’s trading floor. A small number of traders were returning to the floor, wearing masks and following social-distancing rules, the exchange said.
J.K. Rowling begins publishing ‘The Ickabog,’ for children in lockdown.
The author of the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling, has begun publishing installments of a new fairy tale, hoping to ease the burdens of lockdown and other virus restrictions on young readers.
The tale, titled “The Ickabog,” will be released in installments online, and available for free. It will be published as a book in November.
In an announcement on her website, Ms. Rowling said she had started working on the book more than a decade ago, while she was still writing Harry Potter, and originally intended to publish it after she finished the last book in the beloved series. But she ended up keeping “The Ickabog,” which isn’t related to Harry Potter or any of Ms. Rowling’s other work, in her family, reading it to her young children and then putting it away in her attic until recently.
She decided to release “The Ickabog” now, she wrote on Twitter, “so children on lockdown, or even those back at school during these strange, unsettling times, can read it or have it read to them.” Ms. Rowling said she would donate her royalties for the book to causes related to the coronavirus pandemic.
Readers will also have a chance to participate in the process. Ms. Rowling’s publishers around the world will hold an illustration competition, encouraging children to submit drawings using the hashtag #TheIckabog to accompany the story. The best submissions will end up in the book’s final edition when it is published in the fall.
Dutch leader abides by lockdown rules, only visiting his mother on her deathbed.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands was largely unable to visit his dying mother in the last days of her life because he obeyed strict coronavirus restrictions — ones his government had introduced to stem the outbreak — although he was able to see her on her final night, in keeping with the Dutch policy.
Mr. Rutte’s mother died earlier this month, Mr. Rutte said in a statement released on Monday.
“My sweet mother Mieke Rutte Dieling passed away on the 13th of May at the age of 96,” Mr. Rutte said, adding that he and his family were grateful for having had her among them for so many years.
Mr. Rutte, who is one of Europe’s longest-serving prime ministers, did not refer to the coronavirus regulations preventing him from visiting his mother. But a spokesperson confirmed that Mr. Rutte had seen his mother just once after March 20, the day the Dutch government closed all nursing homes to the general public, a move that left many unable to see family and friends.
The restrictions leave room for families to say goodbye to a dying relative during the last day of their life. Mr. Rutte, who lives in a modest apartment, has strictly adhered to his own government rules, even avoiding getting his hair cut.
“We have now said goodbye to her in private and hope to be able to deal with this great loss in peace in the near future,” Mr. Rutte said of his mother in his statement.
Nicaragua — which still promotes mass events — offers a (lengthy) justification for its actions.
Facing withering criticism of its cavalier response to the outbreak and claims that it is downplaying the coronavirus’s toll, the government of Nicaragua released a 71-page rebuttal on Monday, arguing that a vast majority of Nicaraguans could not afford to lose work in a strict lockdown.
Nicaragua, the second-poorest country in the hemisphere, has been widely criticized for continuing to allow — and promote — mass events. It also is among a handful of nations worldwide that never closed its schools.
It has reported 279 cases since the pandemic began — and just 17 deaths. But The Citizen Observatory, a group of doctors, activists and other volunteers who collect information from hospitals, said it has counted 2,323 cases and 404 deaths. The government said in the document that those estimates are inflated with routine pneumonia deaths.
“Countries that have totally closed their economies are uncomfortable with the example of countries that do not apply a draconian closure and do not destroy their economies to face the pandemic,” the government said in the document.
While Sweden has avoided devastating tolls like those in Italy or Britain, the outbreak there has been far deadlier than those of its Scandinavian neighbors.
The document underscores that the rural population, and those who live in the cities but rely on informal jobs, depend on daily income to survive. The government also said that it had launched a massive disinfection campaign of buses, taxis, schools and markets.
Public health experts, doctors and other critics have blasted the document because it failed to say how many people had even been tested for the disease or to offer an assessment of the nation’s hospitals.
The country is still reeling economically after a 2018 uprising threatened Mr. Ortega’s hold on power and cost Nicaragua more than 150,000 jobs. Mr. Ortega has since clamped down on dissent and the government is now saying its opponents want to use the pandemic for political ends.
Spain’s courts, already strained, are facing a crisis as lockdown lifts.
Spain is known for its litigiousness, and lawyers and judges are bracing for a period of turmoil and disorder in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Lawyers are not optimistic. “If you ask me how I see the legal landscape, it will be chaotic,” said Rosalia Sicilia, a labor lawyer.
One judge expects as many as 150,000 people to file for bankruptcy, up from a few thousand last year. Lawyers representing Spaniards who lost loved ones to the virus have already filed a lawsuit against the government, arguing that it is guilty of negligent homicide.
“The pandemic will expose the state of abandonment in which politicians have left the justice system,” said Javier Cremades, the chairman of the law firm Cremades & Calvo-Sotelo and president of the World Jurist Association.
Parliament, eyeing the backlog and the potential barrage of new cases, was stirred to act this month, approving a government plan to shift most court proceedings to videoconference, extend court hours and use trainees to bolster staffing. Certain cases — people fighting insolvency or embroiled in child custody disputes, for instance — are to be prioritized.
Citing safety concerns, the W.H.O. pauses tests of a drug Trump said he had taken.
Hydroxychloroquine had been one of several drugs and drug combinations that the World Health Organization was testing against Covid-19. The test, called the Solidarity Trial, has enrolled nearly 3,500 patients so far from 17 countries, officials said.
Dr. Tedros noted that the concerns related to hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, another malaria drug, were specifically about their use by Covid-19 patients. “I wish to reiterate that these drugs are accepted as generally safe for use in patients with autoimmune diseases or malaria,” he said.
Dr. Michael Ryan, the executive director of the W.H.O. emergencies unit, warned at a news briefing on Monday that if nations let up too quickly on social distancing measures to curb the spread of the virus, it could rapidly bounce back and reach “a second peak.”
Fearing the spread of disease, China zeros in on a ubiquitous utensil: chopsticks.
Amy Qin is a China correspondent for The New York Times covering the intersection of culture, politics and society.
The coronavirus has forced us all to rethink our everyday habits, including things we once took for granted like shaking hands or wearing shoes inside the house.
Growing up in a Chinese household in the United States, we almost always ate family-style, using our personal chopsticks to reach into dishes of food that had been placed in the middle of the table. Some of my most vivid memories from childhood involve my mom, in the well-established tradition of Chinese mothers, piling food onto my plate, urging me to “eat more, eat more.”
Sure, there were occasions when serving chopsticks and spoons were used — like potlucks, for example, or meals with strangers. But at home and between friends, sharing was caring. Eight years of living and eating out in China only served to reinforce the habit.
But then came the new coronavirus. Almost overnight, habits changed. For perhaps the first time, serving spoons and chopsticks appeared at our family’s Lunar New Year dinner. In Beijing in March, during one of my first meals out after the city’s restriction began to loosen, my friend and I asked for serving chopsticks for each of the dishes we ordered. It felt strange at first, but we quickly got used to it.
After the immediate threat of the virus fades, though, it remains to be seen whether or not these new habits will stick in China. As Liu Peng, 32, an education consultant from the coastal city of Qingdao, told me: “Maybe using serving chopsticks is more hygienic but eating is the time for us all to relax, and we don’t want to be bothered by all these little rules.”
Reporting and research were contributed by Kirk Semple, Manuela Andreoni, Natalie Kitroeff, Concepción de León, Mihir Zaveri, Karen Zraick, Andrew Higgins, Raphael Minder, Sui-Lee Wee, Vivian Wang, Declan Walsh, Thomas Erdbrink, Megan Specia, Ed O’Loughlin, Stephen Castle, Mark Landler, Andrew Higgins, Niraj Chokshi, Amy Qin and Liam Stack.
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