A local doctor perfoming a temperature check up for the locals in Kenya

The insidious path of COVID-19 across the planet is a blunt 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: YOUR HEALTH DEPENDS ON HELPING POOR COUNTRIES

The unprecedented crisis of COVID-19 has simultaneously generated both global solidarity and new heights of navel gazing. You've probably stumbled across the the VIPs sharing their self-absorption on social media. But there are also millions of others who are rightly laser focused on the well-being of their families, the fate of their careers and the challenge of being locked inside their homes for weeks on end. And yet at the same time, many are doing their best to support neighbors and local healthcare workers — and try to imagine a better world for all.

While citizens of the world's richest countries — currently the worst affected by the virus — cheer on their own troops and look to one another for guidance, the path to returning their own home turfs to normality may ultimately require looking abroad, and more specifically at how the pandemic will be tackled in the developing world. As we've seen, this virus travels across borders at lightning speeds — and may indeed flare back up in a "second wave" even after it may appear defeated in any one country.

This means that medical and economic aid should be a global calculation, and inevitably poorer countries will need the most help. "It is clearer than ever that none of us will be safe until all of us are safe," reads a blog post from the World Economic Forum calling for immediate debt cancellation to nations in the developing world.

Quoted in Le Monde, UN Chief Antonio Gutteres puts it this way: "The virus will come back up from the South to the North. So it's in the interest of countries in the North to make a massive investment in Africa." Though coronavirus has pushed each of us deeper into our respective bubbles, the world has never been smaller.

Rozena Crossman​

THE SITUATION: 7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

  • Toll: More than one million cases have been registered around the world, Europe accounts for around half. The U.S. records world's highest daily toll with 1,169 deaths.

  • Democrats delay: US Democrats postpone Democratic National Convention to anoint presidential nominee until August.

  • U.S. masks: New York City urges residents to wear masks in public, as White House is expected to issue new face masks guidelines.

  • No exams: France cancels end-of-year national school exams.

  • Gender restrictions: Peru and Panama introduce restrictions of public movement by gender, alternating days out for men and women to slow virus spread.

  • That Mexican beer: Brewer of Corona halts production of beer, after being declared non-essential business by government.

  • What!? Twins born in India during lockdown named Corona and Covid.


Barcelona-based La Vanguardia

COVID-19, THERE'S AN APP FOR THAT: As more countries scramble to replicate South Korea"s flattening of its coronavirus outbreak, one key element in their model appears to be the effective use of tracking technology to limit the spread. The use of geolocation technology to curb COVID-19 has raised concerns over fundamental data protection, especially in countries like China, South Korea and Israel where tracking has been more intrusive, enlisting credit card records for purchase patterns, GPS data for travel patterns, and security-camera footage for verification.

In Spain, the government plans to launch a similar app that will track the movements of its citizens to verify proper social distancing, reports Barcelona-based La Vanguardia.

The Health Ministry in Israel, has launched an app called "Hamagaen" — Hebrew for "The Shield" — that informs users about points of contact with known COVID-19 cases (Times of Israel).

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Trump administration has also been using geopolitical data to map out the movements of millions of Americans during the pandemic, but some experts believe that the spread in the U.S. is far beyond the point where tracking could be a viable way to undermine the spread.

MASKS WAR: It's a seller's market, as national and regional governments around the world are facing shortages of masks. A northeastern region in France ordered two million masks from China to supply its hospitals, but competition is fierce. Grand Est regional President, Jean Rottner told Les Echos: "Americans pay cash and three or four times the purchase orders so we really have to fight."​

Things will pick up again, and then we will see what's left. Like everything else in the world, this industry was becoming too fast, too global.

— Berlin-based Die Welt dives into the emptied orchestra pits to see how the crisis could reshape the classical music world in major ways. Read the article, translated from German by Worldcrunch: Staying Composed: Classical Music In The Time of COVID-19.

WHY WAS THIS TOWN SPARED? While across Italy, the total number of COVID-19 cases has topped 100,000, there is a town in the hard-hit northern part of the country that has registered zero infections. La Stampa asks if there are clues in this exceptional town to understanding how the virus can be stopped.

The town, Ferrera Erbognone, is now slated to be part of a study conducted by the Mondino Institute of Pavia, to test the blood of local residents to see if there is a medical explanation.

The study will determine if there are antibodies capable of fighting off the coronavirus that are specifically present in the local population.

Mayor Giovanni Fassina doesn't think it's genetics. "We are like everyone else. Our population has been loyal in respecting the (quarantine) precautions."​​

Having a party while in lockdown? Hundreds of residents in Newcastle, UK, did it, disco style.

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A tribute to the 30,000 Iranian political prisoners murdered in Iran in 1988

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Hannah Steinkopf-Frank and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Laba diena!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where Afghanistan's Taliban demand to speak at the United Nations, China takes a bold ecological stand and we find out why monkeys kept their tails and humans didn't. Business magazine America Economia also looks at how Latin American countries are looking to attract a new generation of freelancers known as "digital nomads" in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

[*Lithuanian]

🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• Taliban ask to speak at UN: With global leaders gathered in New York for the 76th meeting of the UN General Assembly, Afghanistan's new rulers say their country's previously accredited United Nations ambassador no longer represents the country, and have demanded a new Taliban envoy speak instead. Afghanistan is scheduled to give the final intervention next Monday to the General Assembly, and a UN committee must now rule who can speak.

• Four corpses found on Belarus border with Poland: The discovery of bodies of four people on Belarus-Poland border who appear to have died from hypothermia are raising new accusations that Belarus is pushing migrants to the eastern border of the European Union, possibly in retaliation over Western sanctions following the contested reelection of the country's strongman Alexander Lukashenko. The discovery comes amid a surge of largely Afghani and Iraqi migrants attempting to enter Poland in recent weeks.

• China to stop building coal-burning power plants abroad: Under pressure to limit emissions to meet Paris climate agreement goals, China announces an end to funding future projects in Indonesia, Vietnam and other countries through its Belt and Road initiative.

• Turkey ratifies Paris climate agreement: Following a year of wildfires and flash floods, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced at the UN that Turkey will become the last G-20 country to ratify the emissions-limiting accords. Turkey already signed the agreement in 2016, but has yet to hold a vote in parliament.

• Mass evacuations following Canary Islands volcano: More than 6,000 people have fled the Spanish archipelago as heavy flows of lava have buried hundreds of homes. Four earthquakes have also hit the Canaries since the Sunday eruption, which could also cause other explosions and the release of toxic gas.

• Rare earthquake hits Melbourne: The 5.9 magnitude quake struck near Melbourne in southern Australia, with aftershocks going as far Adelaide, Canberra and Launceston. Videos shared on social media show at least one damaged building, with power lines disrupted in Australia's second largest city. No injuries have been reported.

• The evolutionary tale of tails: Charles Darwin first discovered that humans evolved to lose this biological trait. But only now are New York scientists showing that it was a single genetic tweak that could have caused this shift, while our monkey relatives kept their backside appendages.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

"The roof of Barcelona" — El Periodico daily reports on the latest delay from what may be the longest-running construction project in the world. Work on the iconic Barcelona church La Sagrada Familia, which began all the way back in 1882 as the vision of master architect Antoni Gaudí, was slated to be completed in 2026. The Barcelona-based daily reports that a press conference Tuesday confirmed that the deadline won't be met, in part because of delays related to COVID-19. Officials also provided new details about the impending completion of the Mare de Déu tower (tower of the Virgin), the first tower of the temple to be completed in 44 years. Although it is currently the second tallest spire of the complex, it will become the highest point of the Sagrada Familia, reaching 172.5 meters thanks to an illuminated "great cross."

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

Latin America, the next mecca for digital nomads

Latin American countries want to cash in on the post-pandemic changes to the fundamental ways we work and live, in particular by capitalizing on a growing demand from the new wave of remote workers and "youngish" professional freelancers with money to spend, reports Natalia Vera Ramírez in business magazine America Economia.

💻🏖️ Niels Olson, Ecuador's tourism minister, is working hard to bring "digital nomads" to his country. He believes that attracting this new generation of freelancers who can work from anywhere for extended visits is a unique opportunity for all. Living in a town like Puerto López, he wrote on Twitter, the expat freelancer could "work by the sea, live with a mostly vaccinated population, in the same time zone, (enjoy) an excellent climate, and eat fresh seafood." For Ecuador, the new influx of visitors with money to spend would help boost the country's economy.

🧳 While online-based freelancers already hopped from country to country before COVID-19, the pandemic has boosted their current numbers to around 100 million worldwide. The Inter-American Development Bank estimates there could be a billion roaming, digital workers by 2050. Some European countries already issue visas for digital nomads. They include Germany, Portugal, Iceland, Croatia, Estonia and the Czech Republic, but in the Americas, only four countries make the list, namely Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Panama and Costa Rica.

💰 In August 2021, Costa Rica approved a law for remote workers and international service providers, intended to attract digital nomads and make its travel sector more competitive. The law provides legal guarantees and specific tax exemptions for remote workers choosing to make the country their place of work. It allows foreign nationals earning more than $3,000 a month to stay for up to a year in the country, with the ability to renew their visa for an additional year. If applicants are a family, the income requisite rises to $5,000.


➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

$2.1 billion

Google announced yesterday it will spend $2.1 billion to buy a sprawling Manhattan office building, in one of the largest sales of a building in U.S. history. The tech giant plans on growing its New York workforce to more than 14,000 people.

📣 VERBATIM

It is sickening and shameful to see this kind of president give such a lie-filled speech on the international stage.

— Opposition Brazilian congresswoman Vivi Reis in response to President Jair Bolsonaro's inflammatory 12-minute speech at the UN General Assembly. The unvaccinated head of state touted untested COVID-19 cures, criticized public health measures and boasted that the South American country's environmental protections were the best in the world.

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Hannah Steinkopf-Frank & Bertrand Hauger

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