Swedish king critical of country’s COVID response; Albania protests; UK lockdown treasures.

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


While Sweden’s monarch usually abstains from getting involved in politics or potentially divisive issues, King Carl XVI Gustaf said in an interview that his country had “failed” to save lives during the coronavirus pandemic — a terse remark, taken by some as a reproach to Sweden’s strategy to address COVID-19. It never imposed a full lockdown, mandatory mask wearing or closed restaurants and bars. Instead, the country’s leaders relied on Swedes’ sense of civic duty, hoping they’d do the right thing without the threat of sanctions. But it’s now reckoning with 350,000 cases and almost 8,000 deaths. In Stockholm, intensive care unit beds reached 99% capacity for the first time. (News 18)


Police in Tirana fired tear gas at protestors as demonstrations mounted over the killing of a man by officers. Klodjan Rasha, 25, had apparently refused to stop after police attempted to detain him for disobeying a curfew imposed to stem the tide of the coronavirus. Albania banned street protests due to the pandemic, but hundreds gathered in the city — and in other towns — angered over Rasha’s death. (Balkan Insight)


In Brazil, the coronavirus pandemic has killed 900 indigenous people and left many more at risk. According to the country’s Indigenous People’s Articulation (APIB), there have been more than 42,000 positive COVID-19 cases in 161 indigenous communities. The organization also claimed a spike in violence against those communities was encouraged by controversial Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro. This year, it said, there have been 200 “human rights violations” against indigenous people, mostly by corporations, encouraged by the Bolsonaro administration, involved in deforestation and land clearance. Separately, Bolsonaro has been branded “homicidally negligent” for his failure to prepare his country for the second wave of coronavirus infections — something scientists have been warning about since the beginning. Critics say he had no plan for a vaccination program and he has said he would not take the vaccine himself. (Telesur)


The coronavirus pandemic has worsened China’s expanding north-south economic divide. In the first half of the year, as the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the economies of 10 of China’s 15 northern provinces and regions contracted — compared with just five provinces in the south. Part of the downturn is attributable to the collapse in oil and coal prices worldwide (the north produces the lion’s share) but it’s also due to inequality. Two years ago, Shandong, the north’s richest province, lost 400,000 of its population as people left in search of better jobs. Meanwhile, Guangdong, China’s richest southern province, attracted 800,000 people. (South China Morning Post)


While treasure hunting using metal detectors on public land was prohibited while the UK locked down from March to May to address the coronavirus pandemic, an astonishing hoarde was discovered as Brits literally scoured their own back yards. In the past year the British Museum has registered more than 47,000 finds so far. Among them were 15th and 16th century gold and silver coins, Tudor treasure that belonged to an important 16th century family, and coins that bear the names of Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour and Catherine of Aragon, three of Henry VIII’s wives. (DW)


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