South Africa's president appeared in full military uniform for the first time since the end of apartheid and told troops to be a "force of kindness" as a three-week lockdown begins at midnight and they ensure that 57 million people stay home. The mission is the "most important in the history of our country" as coronavirus cases near 1,000, the highest in Africa.
Canada said Thursday it told the Trump administration that a proposal to put troops at the U.S.-Canada border amid the coronavirus pandemic was entirely unnecessary and would damage relations between the two longtime allies. The Wall Street Journal, citing an unidentified U.S. official, later reported that the Trump administration had dropped its consideration of the plan.
The Senate late Wednesday passed an unparalleled $2.2 trillion economic rescue package steering aid to businesses, workers and health care systems engulfed by the coronavirus pandemic. The unanimous vote came despite misgivings on both sides about whether it goes too far or not far enough and capped days of difficult negotiations as Washington confronted a national challenge unlike it has ever faced.
"China’s announcement on March 17 that it will expel at least 13 American journalists with the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal will hurt China more than it will punish the United States. But it’s not good for anyone," writes Terril Yue Jones. "The move is obviously bad for U.S. news consumers, who rely on these outlets for accurate reporting. But it also is bad for China. At a time when China is having some success combating the COVID-19 pandemic, the world needs to get news of that from trusted sources. Ultimately, the expulsion order could cast doubt on Beijing’s message that it has brought the coronavirus crisis under control."
India will begin the world's largest lockdown on Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced in a TV address, warning citizens to stay inside or risk inviting the pandemic into their homes, and pledging $2 billion to bolster the country's beleaguered health care system. "To save India and every Indian, there will be a total ban on venturing out," Modi said Tuesday night, acknowledging that the 21-day lockdown would be a major blow to the economy, but insisting that the alternative could set the country back 21 years.
Spanish army troops disinfecting nursing homes have found, to their horror, some residents living in squalor among the infectious bodies of people suspected of dying from the new coronavirus, authorities said Tuesday. Defense Minister Margarita Robles said the elderly residents were "completely left to fend for themselves, or even dead, in their beds." She said the discovery over the weekend included several nursing homes but did not name them or say how many bodies were found.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged leaders of the world's 20 major industrialized nations on Tuesday to adopt a "wartime" plan including a stimulus package "in the trillions of dollars" for businesses, workers and households in developing countries trying to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. He said in a letter to the Group of 20 leaders that they account for 85 percent of the world's gross domestic product and have "a direct interest and critical role to play in helping developing countries cope with the crisis."
Customers started behaving oddly about a week ago, visibly dejected street vendor Frank Mojapelo said. Some were wary to exchange cash. Some backed away, or refused to touch him. Now, an unprecedented lockdown looms in South Africa over the coronavirus, with a country of 57 million people told to stay home starting Friday. Virus cases leapt again to 554 on Tuesday, the most of any country in Africa. Forty-three of the continent's 54 countries now have cases, with the total at 2,046, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
Confusion rippled through Britain on Tuesday, a day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered a three-week halt to all non-essential activity to fight the spread of the new coronavirus. Streets were empty but some subways were full. Hairdressers were closed but construction sites were open. People in romantic relationships wondered whether they could see their boyfriends or girlfriends if they weren't living together.
Not even the Summer Olympics could withstand the force of the coronavirus. After weeks of hedging, the IOC took the unprecedented step of postponing the world's biggest sporting event, a global extravaganza that's been cemented into the calendar for more than a century. The Tokyo Games, slated for 11,000 athletes from more than 200 countries and at a reported cost of $28 billion, had been scheduled to start July 24. They will now be pushed into 2021 on dates to be determined.