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In China, schools remain closed in most parts of the country.
To a drive-in testing center in Roma, Italy

The insidious path of COVID-19 across the planet is a reminder of how small the world has become. For the coming weeks, Worldcrunch will be delivering daily updates on this crisis from the best, most trusted international news sources — regardless of language or geography. To receive the daily Coronavirus Global Brief in your inbox, sign up here.

SPOTLIGHT: AFTER CLIMATE CHANGE, WAR ON SCIENCE SPEEDS UP

For those who believe in science and empirical evidence, the global "war on facts' has taken its toll on multiple fronts in recent years, from climate-change deniers to the anti-vaxxer movement trying to halt longstanding vaccination treatments.

And now, as the coronavirus pandemic spreads, it's happening again — only at warped speed. "For the climate community, observing U.S. national political leaders' responses to the coronavirus pandemic has been like watching the climate crisis unfold on fast-forward," writes Dana Nuccitelli in Yale Climate Connections, a publication from the Yale Center for Environmental Communication. The article features President Donald Trump's denials of the gravity of both climate change and coronavirus side-by-side, and the comparison is stark.

Trump isn't the only leader who likes to wrestle with science. India's former chief scientist at the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research lamented to Science magazine that the country's Prime Minister Narenda Modi has "initiated what may be called ‘Project Assault on Scientific Rationality."" Modi once argued: "Climate has not changed. We have changed… our tolerance and habits have changed. If we change then God has built the system in such a way that it can balance on its own." Now, that same line of thinking has led members of the prime minister's party to publicly extol the virtues of cow excrement in treating COVID-19 without a shred of evidence.

Then, of course, there's Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil's Denier-in-Chief, who went against his government's own scientists, claiming both the destruction of the Amazon and the dangerous spread of COVID-19 were blown out of proportion by the media, as Folha de S. Paulo reported. His country currently has almost 30,000 confirmed cases of the disease, placing it among the world's most affected countries, with reports that the death toll may be about to skyrocket. Bolsonaro's firing on Thursday of Brazil's health minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta, who had pushed for stronger restrictions, was perhaps the most direct challenge to the scientific community.

Will the virus wake the world up to the dangers of not taking science seriously? Well, there may be a silver lining on the anti-vaxxer front, as those skeptical about vaccines are forced to rethink their beliefs as they join the rest of the world in eagerly waiting for one for the coronavirus. We can only hope that common sense will keep on spreading.

—By Rozena Crossman

THE SITUATION: 7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

  • Toll: Worldwide cases surpass 2 million. Death toll in France jumps by record 1,438 deaths following three-day Easter weekend while Sweden passes 1,200 mark in "herd immunity" context.

  • Apology to Italy: President of European of Commission Ursula von der Leyen offers "heartfelt apology" to Italy for not being there when the country "needed a helping hand at the very beginning" of the pandemic.

  • Bailout pleas: The IMF reports that more than 100 countries have made requests for bailout funds in response to crisis.

  • "Free our children": Barcelona mayor calls for an end to strict lockdown measures for children, as Spain is the only country where they cannot leave home under any pretext.

  • Cluster at sea: At least 668 sailors from French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle have tested positive to the virus and 20 are hospitalized.

  • R.I.P.: Luis Sepúlveda, the best-selling Chilean writer, has died in Spain at 70 after contracting the virus.

  • Walk-a-thon: British 99-year-old war veteran raises more than £12 milionfor the National Health Service by walking 100 laps in his garden.

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Mariateresa Fichele

"Dottoré, I know you’re going to say I’m superstitious and strange, you always give rational answers ... but I have to ask you a question: Is it true that ever since our stadium was renamed after Maradona, Napoli doesn't win at home anymore?"

"So?"

"Could it be that Saint Paul, to whom the stadium was initially dedicated, got offended and is making us lose now?"

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