Welcome to Monday, where global coronavirus cases hit 250 million, Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega heads toward a fourth term and Amy Winehouse's little minidress is a big auction hit. We also look at the ups and downs of Singapore's Zero-COVID strategy.
[*Malagasy - Madagascar]
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• Nicaragua's Ortega set to win re-election: Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has a strong lead with half the vote counted from Sunday's election in which he's seeking a fourth term. The U.S. has called the vote a "pantomime," following the jailing of his top rivals and the country's opposition had urged voters to boycott.
• Iraqi prime minister targeted in assassination attempt: Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi escaped unhurt in an assassination attempt after an explosive-laden drone targeted his home in Baghdad's high-security Green Zone on Saturday. The attack follows weeks of tensions between the country's government and Iran-backed militias.
• COVID update: The U.S. lifts restrictions on travel from a long list of countries including Mexico, Canada, and most of Europe, opening the door to international fully-vaccinated visitors. Meanwhile, Germany's coronavirus infection rate has risen to its highest since the pandemic began, leading to warnings that doctors will need to postpone scheduled operations in the coming weeks. Indeed, despite many countries resuming trade and tourism, global COVID-19 cases have now surpassed 250 million, with the virus still infecting 50 million people every 90 days across the globe.
• Poland confirms abortion is legal to save woman's life: Polish Health Ministry has issued instructions to doctors to confirm abortion is allowed when a woman's health or life is in danger, amid confusion over the country's new restrictive abortion law. The move follows nationwide protests over the death of a 30-year-old woman who died after doctors held off terminating her pregnancy despite the fact that her foetus lacked amniotic fluid to survive.
• China's Communist Party Sixth plenum opens: A historic meeting of China's top Communist Party officials, also known as the sixth plenum, has opened in Beijing. The four-day closed-door meeting is expected to produce a resolution on the history of the party, which according to analysts will shape domestic politics and society for decades to come, reinforcing the power of President Xi Jinping.
• Travis Scott sued for $1m over "predictable" Astroworld tragedy: A concertgoer who was injured during the Astroworld festival is suing rapper and festival organizer, Travis Scott, in the wake of the stampede that left eight people dead and dozens injured in Houston this weekend.
• Amy Winehouse mini dress smashes auction estimates: The dress worn by late singer Amy Winehouse for her final performance in Belgrade in her 2011 Summer Festival Tour, was sold for $243,200 (16 times its original estimate) at an auction of items from her estate. The proceeds will go to the foundation her parents set up to help young people suffering from addiction issues.
Chinese daily 工人日報 (Gōngrén Rìbào, Workers' Daily) dedicates its front page to Chinese astronaut Wang Yaping who made history when she became the country's first woman to conduct a spacewalk.
COVID-19 lessons from Singapore, facing its first crisis so late in the pandemic
Its Zero-COVID strategy has mostly worked, and vaccinations are going well. Now a breakout spread is raising multiple questions for the Asian nation and global financial hub.
📈 When it came to COVID-19, Singapore had seemed to do everything right. Back in March 2020, the wealthy Asian city-state didn't hesitate to impose a strict lockdown. It seemed to work: according to data from the Straits Times, a peak of 1,111 cases per day reached in April was quickly brought down to about 50 infections per day in August 2020. Yet over the past two months, Singapore has been battling its biggest surge in COVID-19 infections since the start of the pandemic, with a new record of more than 5,000 cases per day at the end of October.
🦠 The country is currently experiencing about 15 deaths from COVID per day, while there were none in the first seven months of the year. Why? The answer may lie in Singapore's change in COVID strategy earlier this year. According to the French daily Le Monde, the ministers forgot one important factor: as a result of the Zero-COVID strategy at the beginning of the pandemic, a relatively small number of people became infected. Due to this lack of natural immunity, a lot of people are testing positive for the first time, now that the virus has finally been permitted to roam free.
💸 Nearby China, for example, is the only country still employing a Zero-Covid strategy. The policy has proven its worth in terms of health, but it is isolating the country on the international scene. Economically, the Zero-COVID strategy isn't boding well either. In China, investment is down, and tourist spending is very low since almost no one is permitted to enter the country. For Singapore, a small city-state that largely depends on its status as an Asian financial hub, further economic tightening could be detrimental.
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It is going to be hell on Earth.
— David Beasley, executive director of the UN World Food Programme, told the BBC during a visit to Kabul, warning that 23 million people are "marching towards starvation" as a harsh winter looms in Afghanistan. Since the Taliban took power last August, Western countries have cut off their aid to the country.
Stanza degli schiavi
Archeologists in Pompeii, Italy, have discovered a 2,000-year-old "slaves' room" shedding rare light on the daily lives of slaves at the time. The room — which features three beds, a ceramic pot and a wooden chest — was exceptionally well preserved under a layer of lava that covered most of Pompeii after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.
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