North Korea tightens restrictions; Fire in Indian COVID hospital; Korea bans end-of-year parties

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

Since March we’ve been tracking the coronavirus pandemic around the globe, and while we’ve seen some of the most disturbing patterns emerge — through disinformation or a reluctance to follow or impose strict health and safety guidelines — we’ve also reported on how some communities have risen to the challenge and rallied to fight it.


North Korea

North Korea says not a single case of COVID-19 has been found in the country—a claim disputed by outside experts. Now the country is tightening its already tough restrictions for entering its borders. Among those measures: a ban on sea fishing by South Korea and an effort to “completely remove uncivilized and unhygienic elements that could help make room for the spread of an epidemic.” Experts have said the country faces disastrous consequences if the virus does (or has) taken hold there due to its broken health care system and lack of medicines. (AP)


In Rakjot, India, five elderly people died in a huge blaze at a hospital treating coronavirus patients. Officials believe an electrical short circuit in a ventilator system triggered the fire at the 54-bed Uday Shivanand Hospital. Other patients with burns were transferred to another hospital almost 700 miles away. In August, a fire killed eight COVID-19 patients at a different hospital in Ahmedabad, 130 miles from Rakjot.  (Times of India)

South Korea

South Korea has banned end-of-year parties, music lessons and closed public saunas in an effort to combat rising cases of coronavirus.The new wave of infections is spreading at the fastest rate since March. The country had been one of the few COVID-19 success stories but the infection rate had risen sharply recently, most notably at military facilities, high schools and churches. (SCMP)


A bar in Rome has banned its customers from talking about the coronavirus. Cristina Mattioli, manager of The Feeling Bar, said they had “been talking about the same thing for months so we chose to lighten the atmosphere.” A sign above the counter now forbids talk of COVID-19 or lockdowns. Mattioli said it’s not about denying the realities of the pandemic, but giving customers a respite from the doom and gloom. To help with conversation starters Mattioli put up a different poster suggesting talking about history and culture instead. (Yahoo / AFP)


The Danish government is considering digging up and cremating the millions of mink that were rapidly culled last month. The controversial decision to kill the minks came after a coronavirus mutation was found in the animals. Courts challenged the legality of the mass culling program. There was concern that dangerous chemicals from the carcasses could enter the soil. What’s more, gases released during the decomposition process started to push carcasses back to the surface of a burial pit in one town that was too shallow. (The Local)


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