Party like it’s 2019; another virus in the Philippines

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


Europeans escaping lockdown have found a place to have a good time: Zanzibar. Five thousand mostly mask-less party-goers packed into Zanzibar’s old colonial Arab Fort, a UNESCO Heritage site, for Sauti Za Busaraa, a Tanzanian festival headlined by some of East Africa’s biggest acts, and the Daily Beast reports employees of major international organizations like Amazon, Citigroup and even the United Nations setting up remote working spots close to the beach. Meanwhile Tanzania’s president has stated the power of prayer was key to defeating COVID-19. The government has insisted publicly the country is now free from the coronavirus, there is little testing bring done and no plans for vaccination. As such it’s hard to gauge the extent of the virus in the country. One Zanzibar partygoer said, “I fully support lockdowns and COVID restrictions, I just choose not to follow any of them.” (Daily Beast)


Brazilian hospitals are close to collapse according to experts, but President Jair Bolsonaro refuses to use “his army” to impose lockdowns or other restrictive measures to control the coronavirus. Bolsonaro has repeatedly attacked measures imposed by governors across Brazil which he feels are far too prohibitive. In turn, those governors have put the pressure on him for what they say is his inaction in the face of a worsening pandemic. “You can be sure of one thing,” Bolsanaro said, “my army does not go out into the street to force the people to stay at home.” (Folha De Sao Paulo)


In addition to coronavirus’ impact on the human population, the Philippines is also contending with a different virus: African swine fever. The illness, which cannot be transmitted to humans, is nonetheless decimating hog farms. At the end of 2020, the cost of pork — a staple in Filipino dishes — doubled to US$8-US$9 per kilogram (2.2lbs) Meanwhile the number of daily cases of COVID-19 has exceeded 3,000, the highest in five months. (SCMP)


UNICEF, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, has said the coronavirus pandemic has stymied efforts to combat child marriage across the globe, with school closures, economic hardship and parental deaths putting vulnerable girls at greater risk. Bangladesh has one of the highest incidences of child marriage in the world and the organization says the pandemic has place girls in the country — and elsewhere — at heightened risk of child marriage. “International Women’s Day is a key moment to reflect on what girls stand to lose if we do not act urgently,” said Tomoo Hozumi, UNICEF’s representative in the country. UNICEF says girls who marry in childhood are more likely to experience domestic violence and are at greater risk of early and unplanned pregnancy. (UNICEF)


Research shows Russia’s efforts to promote its own coronavirus vaccine have suffered a blow, as despite its wide availability, take-up has been slow. Just 4.5% of Sputnik V doses have been administered so far, according to Oxford University’s Our World in Data project. Russia has the world’s highest vaccine hesitancy rate among its citizens. Comparatively, 34.65% of doses have been administered in the UK, and 27.3% in the US. Across the EU, almost 10% of doses have been given. 71 percent of 40 to 54 year-old Russians believe the coronavirus was created to cause biological harm. (TRT World)


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