Stranded in Japan, Sudanese athletes make best of it
For most athletes and sports fans the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics to July 2021 was a blow, but a team of South Sudanese sprinters are hoping to turn the delay to their advantage. The four athletes and a coach have been in the city of Maebashi, north of Tokyo, since November, and they say they’re happy to be taking advantage of training facilities that aren’t available in their home country.
Odisha extends lockdown, central aid package goes out
Odisha is the first state to extend the nationwide covid-19 lockdown till 30 April, even as the Centre sanctioned a national ₹15,000 crore emergency package to tackle the pandemic. Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik has requested the Centre not to start train and air services till the end of this month, and said educational institutions in the state will remain closed till 17 June. The Centre, at its daily press briefing, said it has got on board 20 domestic manufacturers of personal protection equipment. It added that it had ordered 1.7 crore PPE kits and requisitioned 49,000 ventilators.
Worst economic downturn since great depression: IMF
This year could see the worst global economic fallout since the Great Depression of the 1930s, which lasted 10 years with varying degrees of impact in every country. Over 170 countries are likely to experience negative per capita income growth due to the pandemic, said International Monetary Fund Managing director Kristalina Georgieva. Most of the organization’s 189 member states would suffer falling standards of living. She said the sudden onset of the pandemic meant the IMF’s new forecast for the world economy were going to be grim when released next week.
Oil demand slumps 70% in India
Oil demand in India, the world’s third biggest consumer, has collapsed 70% with the country under lockdown, Bloomberg reports. The reduction equates to 3.1 million barrels a day of lost oil demand. To put it in perspective, the decline in India alone would account for a third of the 10 million barrel-a-day supply cut that US President Donald Trump said was under consideration during talks that the world’s biggest crude producers are having this week. India, China and the US account for about 40% of global oil demand.
Close to 60% of Delhi traffic off roads
Horns have fallen silent across many capital cities in Asia, home to some of the world’s worst traffic jams and highest levels of air pollution. Strict lockdowns and curbs on commerce have emptied streets and highways, something not seen in decades. Seven of the 11 world’s most gridlocked cities are in Asia, according to 2019 Traffic Index, with Bengaluru the most congested city though Delhi has the most cars in India.
Virus pushes Saudi Arabia to declare ceasefire in Yemen
The Saudi Arabia-UAE coalition has announced a two-week unilateral ceasefire in Yemen. The coalition, which has been fighting Yemen’s Houthi rebels, said it wanted to support UN efforts for a political solution and help stop coronavirus spread, though no cases have been reported in Yemen. Saudi Arabia has reported more than 3,200 cases, and about 150 members of the royal family are believed to have contracted the virus. The five-year conflict has devastated Yemen, and reportedly killed more than 100,000 people.
As Wuhan opens up, debate over its markets continues
As Wuhan slowly emerges from a two-month lockdown, the debate over its wet markets, where produce, livestock and other groceries are sold, has been reignited. It was in such a market in Wuhan that the virus was detected, and US officials are pushing for them to be shut down saying they are unsanitary. Banning the markets is not a solution as they sell essentials for all residents as well as support hundreds of families who work there. The challenge now is to keep these markets open while enforcing rules against the live slaughter of animals or sale of wildlife on site.
Myanmar releases detained Rohingya Muslims
As fears of a coronavirus outbreak in crowded prisons mount, a Myanmar court has dropped cases and released 128 Rohingya Muslims who were detained after they fled a military crackdown in 2017. About 250 more Rohingya are likely to be released by the end of the week and sent to Rakhine. Myanmar has recorded 22 coronavirus cases and one death. Meanwhile, Bangladesh has imposed a lockdown Cox’s Bazar district where more than one million Rohingya Muslims live in an attempt to prevent the spread of the virus in the crowded refugee camps. The country has reported 330 cases.
Seven cases among Brazil’s indigenous groups
A 15-year-old old boy from the Amazon indigenous community of Yanomami people in Brazil has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, taking the number of confirmed cases among its isolated Amazonian communities to seven. Brazil is home to an estimated 800,000 indigenous people from more than 300 ethnic groups. Indigenous people in the Amazon rainforest, and in parts of India, are particularly vulnerable to such diseases because they have been historically isolated from germs against which much of the world has developed immunity.
What we’re watching in lockdown
Australian stand-up comic Rob Shehadie had us in splits with his “escape” from isolation. He’s at what looks like an airplane window, taking off from Sydney airport. When the camera pulls back, he’s just sitting by his washing machine door, doing laundry, and dreaming of a getaway.With an Enya’s Only Time as the soundtrack, it’s the next best thing to business class travel, or any travel, right now.
Curated by Shalini Umachandran.
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