Pandemic World: Lebanon’s post-explosion battle with COVID; quarantining visitors to Iceland

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

by Stranger’s Guide



Lebanon’s economy was already in meltdown due to the coronavirus pandemic when a huge stockpile of ammonium nitrate exploded at the port in Beirut, leaving at least 181 dead and 6,000 injured. Three weeks after that explosion, Lebanon is seeing record numbers of confirmed COVID-190 cases, now numbering more than 600 daily, and possibly exacerbated by the chaotic aftermath. (Middle East Eye)


India is in the middle of Ganesh Chaturthi—an 11-day festival celebrating the Hindu god Ganesh. While festivities are expected to be quieter this year, they have not been banned, and yet the country is reporting a spike in COVID-19 cases that have pushed its national total close to 3 million. India is the world’s third hardest hit nation by the pandemic after the US and Brazil. (CIDRAP)


Iceland is open to tourism from some countries, yet it has begun to implement a strict testing program to thwart the spread of the coronavirus. Visitors now have to get tested twice—once when they arrive, and again six days later. While quarantining in between testing, tourists cannot visit the country’s black sand beaches, waterfalls, swimming pools or restaurants, but they can go for walks in remote areas. (Travel & Leisure)


While Paraguay was initially praised for its pandemic management, imposing quarantine restrictions after just two confirmed cases of COVID-19, public response quickly turned to outrage after police used physical punishment and tasers to enforce lockdown. So Paraguayans have reacted with fury after guests at the wedding of the daughter of the country’s former president were seen flouting social distancing rules and failing to wear face masks, despite a surge of coronavirus deaths and strict rules still in place. Sol Cartes, the daughter of Horacio Cartes, married businessman Patrick Bendlin. (The Guardian)


Colombia’s president Ivan Duque’s announcement that bars and clubs could reopen but without liquor sales, has been met with derision in a country already reeling from the economic fallout from the pandemic. Millions of Colombians have been without income and food as Duque’s government refused to implement a universal basic income as proposed by Congress. In the first week of August mortality rates rocketed from approximately 4,500 deaths a week to 7,500. As more doctors and nurses fall ill, the country’s healthcare system is close to collapse. (Colombia Reports)


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Photo credit: Nathaniel Bruno


Life on the Road

#VanLife is, as Rachel Monroe put it in her New Yorker story last year, a “one-word life-style signifier that has come to evoke … a renewed interest in the American road trip, a culture of hippie-inflected outdoorsiness, and a life free from the tyranny of a nine-to-five office job.”

But all is not what it seems. “Everyday van life isn’t as glamorous as it might look,” one perma-camper told Outside magazine for a piece titled “The Unglamorous Realities of #VanLife.” It’s not all desert sunrises and mountain lakes. Life on the road can be tough. You can find yourself camping in less-than-beautiful spots or conditions—and you still have to find money for food and campsites.