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Japan’s robot covid police; infection rates rise in Russia; Nunavut no longer COVID-free

A look at how COVID-19 is impacting life around the world.

by Stranger’s Guide

Japan

A robot that is being trialed in a store in Osaka, Japan, this month identifies customers not wearing masks and reminds those not social distancing to do so when they line up to pay. The company behind it, Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International, said it’s designed to reduce contact between people amid the coronavirus pandemic. It’s being tested at a shop for J. League soccer club Cerezo Osaka. The robot has a camera and sensors on board and can measure distance using lasers. (Japan Times)

Russia

While authorities have refused to impose a countrywide lockdown, Russia has confirmed over 22,000 coronavirus infections in a single day—a record since the pandemic began. Its coronavirus information center is widely believed to undercount infections and deaths, but the “official” tally is 1,903,253, the fifth-highest number in the world after France, Brazil, India and the United States. It’s currently mandatory to wear masks across the country but, anxious about the impact on the economy, Moscow has refused to mandate a nationwide lockdown. (Moscow Times)

Canada

Twenty six new coronavirus cases in a remote hamlet in Nunavut, Canada’s newest province, brings the total there to 46. The province only confirmed its first official case of COVID-19 on November 6. Now, the territory has entered a two-week lockdown as government officials confront community spread. Last month, Stranger’s Guide reported that while there was an outbreak of the coronavirus in September among workers at a remote gold mine, those cases were counted as infections in the miners’ hometowns, meaning Nunavut had not had a single confirmed case of COVID-19. That has now changed. (Globe and Mail)

Angola

One protestor died when police in Angola used live bullets, dogs and teargas to disperse a peaceful anti-government protest last week. While the country’s president João Lourenço had been lauded for promoting human rights in Angola, things changed in October when when Lourenço banned all public gatherings of more than five people — ostensibly to control the spread of the coronavirus, but which came just before a planned demonstration called by activists and the political opposition. (Human Rights Watch)

USA

The US has posted the most cases of coronavirus among its military members within a 24 hour period. 1,300 new infections sets a record, and are among 69,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and tens of thousands more attributed to contractors and civilian members of the Defense Department. The rising number of cases — still a lower percentage than nationally — comes not long after an audit was launched to find out if the Defense Department had appropriately allocated funds it had received under the coronavirus stimulus CARES Act and if its spending complied with the law. (The Hill)

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Guides to Romance

Many famous Romantic-era writers wrote guidebooks. Poet William Wordsworth’s Guide through the District of the Lakes in the North of England was published in 1810, and helped to popularize the Lakes District as a travel destination (although Wordsworth later railed against the extension of the railway to his home region). German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Italian Journey appeared in 1816, based on trips he took between 1786 and 1788. And French writer François-René de Chateaubriand wrote accounts of his sojourns in Greece, the Middle East and Italy throughout the early 19th century.