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World coronavirus dispatch: Will Covid-19 end up becoming a seasonal flu?

Covid-19 could end up becoming a seasonal infection like the flu, top Chinese scientists have said. The virus might not be eradicated, they have said, in line with a growing consensus around the world that the pathogen would likely return in waves. Moreover, the so-called asymptomatic carriers make it hard to fully contain the transmission, as they can spread the virus undetected. Overall, social distancing and rapid tests might go on for much longer than earlier anticipated. Read these findings, which were shared by a group of researchers at a press conference in Beijing on Monday.

Let’s look at the global statistics:

Total confirmed cases: 3,053,965

Change over previous day: 60,995

Total deaths: 211,522

Total recovered: 906,022

Nations hit with most cases: US (988,469), Spain (229,422), Italy (199,414), France (165,977) and Germany (158,758).

Russian medical workers are getting sick: Reports of medical staff and doctors contracting coronavirus are emerging almost daily as Russia copes with a growing number of patients. Last week alone, more than 200 doctors in Moscow and St Petersburg were reported to have caught the virus. 

Virus spread declines in Germany: The number of new infections in Germany on Monday fell below 1,000 for the first time in more than five weeks. The European nation, one of the most affected globally, has been able to recuperate with a mix of stringent lockdown and rapid testing. 

More US companies scrap outlooks: PepsiCo, 3M and Xerox have joined the growing list of companies that have scrapped forecasts because of the disruption caused by coronavirus. PepsiCo said there was still a great deal of uncertainty that existed, including how geographies, retail channels and consumer behaviours would evolve over time. 

Singapore ramps up testing capacity: It now has capacity to conduct over 8,000 tests per day, up from an average 2,900 less than a month ago. To date, the Southeast Asian nation has tested about 2,100 in every 100,000 people – that its government noted was higher than the US and the UK, which have respectively tested 1,600 and 1,000 people per 100,000. 

Brazil could be the next coronavirus hotspot: Brazil could well be the next catastrophic hotspot, even as President Jair Bolsonaro insists the virus is just “a little flu”. The right-wing leader is opposed to restrictions adopted by most of the country’s governors, who are urging people to stay home. Brazil is Latin America’s biggest country, with 211 million people. .

UAE opens malls despite cases rising: The UAE is opening up its malls and restaurants, even as confirmed cases spike, in a gamble to stimulate its economy. That has led to a new normal of temperature checks, social distancing monitors at supermarkets and marked-off empty seats on the city’s driver-less Metro. To date, the UAE has reported over 11,300 confirmed cases and 89 deaths. 

New Zealand and Australia open up after coronavirus success: New Zealand and Australia began easing social-distancing restrictions on Tuesday, with both countries reporting dramatic declines in new coronavirus infections in recent weeks. Some non-essential businesses, including food takeaways, and health and education services will be allowed to reopen. But people are still expected to stay at home, unless they are undertaking essential activities, such as buying groceries, working or exercising. 


Quelling misinformation in crisis time: When it comes to combating misinformation, research shows that it’s more effective when authoritative figures present accurate facts early and routinely, rather than try to dispel every piece of misinformation. Read about the research done by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania and why it matters right now.

Long Reads

Merkel’s frankness and clarity beats Trump’s virus bluster: The difference in approaches lays bare the stark contrast in how two of the biggest world leaders function. Donald Trump and Angela Merkel were never destined to hit it off, but with the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe, the depth of their differences — in style and substance — has become more apparent than ever. The global crisis has amplified the leaders’ most fundamental traits: for Trump, a proclivity to bask in the limelight and a loose relationship with facts; for Merkel, the frankness and clarity of a scientist who takes comfort in data.

We still don’t know how coronavirus is killing us: The death rate is no longer accelerating; it is holding steady. But the disease itself appears to be shape-shifting before our eyes. There are many unanswered questions about coronavirus and what must be done to protect ourselves against it – from how deadly it is to how many people caught it and shrugged it off, and how long immunity to the disease lasts after infection. Read more to understand where the current research stands.


The state of testing: Rigorous testing has been key to reopening economies in Asia. So why is the US lagging behind? Across the country, governors are weighing when and how to begin to lift lockdown restrictions. Without federal coordination, some are looking abroad to see what has worked in countries like New Zealand, Australia and South Korea. 

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