World Coronavirus Tracker: Live Coverage


The pandemic is realigning global dynamics.

With the coronavirus reaching into nearly every country in the world, the spread of the disease isn’t just threatening public health, it’s also realigning international power dynamics and shaking the foundations of geopolitics.

As America’s global leadership has waned and as the virus has spread around the world, other nations have step in.

While the Chinese announcement may be more symbolic than substantive, as U.S. donations to the organization have historically outstripped China’s by hundreds of millions, it is the latest sign of another global power stepping into a gap left by the United States.

China is also responding to a new outbreaks in the country’s north, taking new epidemic prevention measures this week in an effort to stamp out a flare-up of the virus. While the numbers there remain modest, it’s a sign that the fight against the outbreak for much of the world could be a long one.

European leaders are meeting on Thursday to debate a collective response to the looming economic disaster that coronavirus lockdowns are bringing to the continent, but details of a proposed fund, including its size and timing, have remained contentious. And the European Union is split between countries in the south hit especially hard by the outbreak, like Spain and Italy, and those in the north.

But while there are divisions across Europe, nations are also split internally, with debates about plans to reopen the economy raging.

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany on Thursday warned the governors of the country’s 16 states not to loosen restrictions on public life too quickly, saying that doing so could jeopardize the nation’s ability to keep the spread of coronavirus under control.

“Let us not squander what we have achieved,” she said in an address to Parliament.

“When people see these pictures of New York City they say, ‘How can this happen? How is this possible?’” said Henrik Enderlein, the president of the Berlin-based Hertie School, a public policy institute. “We are all stunned. Look at the jobless lines: twenty-two million.”

“I feel a desperate sadness,” said Timothy Garton Ash, a professor of European history at Oxford University, and a lifelong and ardent Atlanticist who spends part of the year at Stanford University.

The pandemic has done more than take lives and livelihoods from New Delhi to New York. It is also shaking fundamental assumptions about American exceptionalism — the unique role that the United States played for decades after World War II as the reach of its values and power made it a global leader and example to the world.

“America has not done badly — it has done exceptionally badly,” said Dominique Moïsi, a senior adviser at the Institut Montaigne, a Paris think tank.

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany on Thursday warned the governors of the country’s 16 states against loosening restrictions on public life too quickly, saying that it could jeopardize the nation’s ability to keep the spread of coronavirus under control.

“Nobody wants to hear this, but the truth is that we are not living in the final phase of this pandemic, but at the beginning,” she said. “We are going to have to live with it for a long time.”

China said on Thursday that it would donate an additional $30 million to the World Health Organization after President Trump’s order this month to suspend American funding to the agency as he accused it of promoting “China’s misinformation” and “severely mismanaging” the spread of the coronavirus.

The new Chinese donation was announced on Twitter by Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “At this crucial moment, supporting W.H.O. is supporting Multilateralism and Global Solidarity,” she wrote.

He said that the money was important not only for global health, but also for the safety of the United States, and that he hoped Mr. Trump would restore the funding.

“I hope the freezing of the funding will be reconsidered and the U.S. will once again support W.H.O.’s work and continue to save lives,” Dr. Tedros said.

How long the pandemic lasts, and how governments and activists respond, will determine whether the pause represents a moment of metamorphosis or an unceremonious end for some of the most widespread mass mobilizations in recent history.

The challenges to protesters, in places as different as Hong Kong and Lebanon, are apparent. Millions of demonstrators are hunkered down at home, hemmed in by sweeping quarantines and health concerns. The daily burden of acquiring face masks or food often overshadows debates about corruption and abuse of power.

But the pandemic’s economic toll, as well as the crises of trust it has inspired in many governments, could fuel fresh outrage. People across the world — from Peru to France to the United States — have defied lockdown measures that they say threaten their jobs, housing and food supplies.

“It is a rest time,” said Isaac Cheng, a student leader of Demosisto, a prominent Hong Kong pro-democracy group, “but it’s definitely not the end of the movement.”

European Union leaders meeting on Thursday via teleconference to debate a joint response to the economic disaster that the coronavirus is bringing to the continent are set to hand the European Commission the task of drafting a proposal for a recovery fund.

But details of that fund — its size, its timing, the types of measures it will support — are contentious, and the meeting is unlikely to yield agreement, senior European Union officials and member-state diplomats said.

Southern European countries led by Italy and Spain, which have been worst hit by the virus, are calling for a fund of more than one trillion euros ($1.08 trillion) that will be able to extend grants rather than interest-bearing loans for nations’ recovery efforts.

But the idea of grants, seen as free money, does not appeal to wealthier northern European countries that have both more money to spend on their own recoveries and fewer deaths to contend with at home.

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany on Thursday supported the idea of using the European Union budget as a framework for a recovery fund, and said that her country, the continent’s wealthiest, was prepared to increase its contribution to bolster the recovery effort.

Instead, the meeting will at best give the European Commission, the European Union’s executive branch, a mandate to draft a proposal on how to use the bloc’s seven-year budget to create a pot of money for recovery efforts.

Critics say this will still be too little too late. The bloc’s budget has long been seen as an unambitious and limited instrument, amounting to 1 percent of the member nations’ collective economic output.

Most clerics complied with the government’s announcement of a lockdown late last month, keeping people at home to avoid spreading the coronavirus. But some of the most influential imams called on worshipers to attend Friday Prayer in even greater numbers. Devotees attacked police officers who tried to get in their way.

On Saturday, the government gave in, signing an agreement that let mosques stay open for Ramadan as long as they followed 20 rules, including forcing congregants to maintain a six-foot distance, bring their own prayer mats and perform their ablutions at home. Prime Minister Imran Khan met on Monday with the clerics, who vowed to abide by the deal.

“It is very difficult for the state to implement what’s best for the public good,” said Husnul Amin, an Islamabad-based scholar on Islam and politics. “The larger public interest is always up against the clerics. It’s completely undemocratic.”

Even the country’s security forces, which empowered the clerical establishment in the 1980s in an effort to churn out jihadists to fight the Soviet military next door in Afghanistan, seemed unable to counter the imams.

In Karachi, the largest city, scenes emerged of worshipers chasing the police through narrow alleyways, pelting them with rocks and sending several officers to the hospital.

“The military has created a monster they can no longer control,” Mr. Amin said.

While clerics acknowledge that their mosques are perfect vectors for the coronavirus’s spread, some said they had to protect their bottom line.

“We know the coronavirus pandemic is a global health issue, but religious duties cannot be abandoned,” said Maulana Ataullah Hazravi, a Karachi-based cleric. Besides, he added, “mosques depend largely on the donations collected during Ramadan.”

Several cities in China’s north have taken new epidemic prevention measures this week in an effort to stamp out a flare-up of the coronavirus.

The scale of new cases appears modest: Chinese state media tallied dozens of new infections, all of which experts said were linked to the return of Chinese from Russia and the United States. Still, it isn’t clear that the spread has been entirely contained, and local governments put limits on travel and issued bulletins to increase vigilance.

Officials have stopped short of cutting off Harbin, a city of 10 million where the outbreak has been most severe, but the city said this week that neighborhoods should ban outsiders from entering communities. Nearby Qiqihar also barred outsiders from visiting neighborhoods and warned residents against traveling to at-risk areas, including Harbin.

Another city, Hulunbuir, said on Monday that it had confirmed a case related to the spread in Harbin. One hotel in the city took matters into its own hands, posting in an online advertisement that it would not accept guests from neighboring Heilongjiang Province, of which Harbin is the capital.

For China, the new rules and the prospect of further spread are a reminder of this past winter, when a vast portion of the country’s cities were locked down. And for the rest of the world, it underscores how challenging it can be to control the contagion — even after the worst seems to be over.

It also augurs poorly for hopes of quickly restarting economies. Instead, the new normal appears to be sporadic outbreaks followed by a scramble to bring things under control, with testing and strict social distancing rules.

For decades, the oil rigs rising out of the North Sea off Scotland provided Britain with hundreds of thousands of jobs in a thriving industry and billions in tax revenue.

Oil companies are shelving investments worth billions of dollars. Staffing on the rigs has been cut, both to reduce costs and to provide some degree of social distancing on the often crowded platforms. At least two offshore workers have tested positive for the coronavirus.

“We have gone through commodity swings and cycles of that nature, but this one is different,” said Jim House, the chief executive of Neptune Energy, a private-equity-backed oil and gas firm with production in British and Norwegian waters. “We have never seen a world completely shut down,” he said.

More important, though, may be the impact on the future of the North Sea oil and gas industry. Its health depends on finding new undersea fields and bringing them into production, but if prices remain low, as some analysts think likely, that won’t happen anytime soon.

The price of Brent crude, which was named for a North Sea oil field, has fallen about 70 percent this year to just over $20 a barrel. Another type of crude, West Texas intermediate, fell into a negative price this week.

A citizen journalist who disappeared in February after documenting the outbreak in Wuhan, China, said in a YouTube video that he had been released after a period of forced quarantine.

The journalist, Li Zehua, spent weeks interviewing stranded migrant workers and overburdened crematory employees — an attempt to show the toll that the outbreak was taking on the city where it began.

In the video, Mr. Li, 25, described being chased by a white S.U.V. that night and hiding in his apartment in the dark. He said that men who identified themselves as security officials eventually took him to a police station for interrogation.

The authorities later said that they had decided not to investigate him, but that he needed to be quarantined because he had visited “sensitive areas,” Mr. Li said in the video.

Mr. Li, who became a citizen journalist after a brief career as a host on state-run television, said he was quarantined from late February until mid-March at a Wuhan hotel. He was given regular meals and allowed to watch state-run television, he said, then driven to his hometown and ordered to quarantine for another two weeks.

In previous videos, Mr. Li had urged other Chinese young people to “stand up” and said he was no longer willing to “shut my eyes.” But in his latest one, he did not criticize the government.

“There will be coronavirus in the fall,” said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the federal government’s top infectious disease expert.

Mr. Damon’s new admirers are apparently also his protectors. That was clear to a New York Times reporter who requested anecdotes via the town’s unofficial Facebook page.

“Leave him be!” was a common theme, presented around 100 different ways.

“Love love the fact that everybody is looking to protect him like our own,” Cjhelle Griffiths wrote in one post.

But with Haitian workers returning from the neighboring Dominican Republic — which has been hit hard by Covid-19 — the odds are stacked against the country and its weak health care system.

Most Haitians lack access to clean water, let alone soap, and many live in tightly packed slums where social distancing is impossible. The nation’s health care system is so threadbare that Haitians regularly die of easily treatable ailments like diarrhea.

Doctors estimate that the country will need 6,000 beds dedicated to Covid-19 patients. But the plan, which requires trained staff, personal protective equipment, as well as oxygen, is costly.

But over recent weeks, thousands of Haitians have flooded back home each day from the Dominican Republic. Doctors have been screening at four official border checkpoints, but not at dozens of illegal crossings.

“They will announce this as soon as they have troops in place to help prevent looters and rioters,” warned one of the messages, which cited a source in the Department of Homeland Security. “He said he got the call last night and was told to pack and be prepared for the call today with his dispatch orders.”

Since that wave of panic, United States intelligence agencies have assessed that Chinese operatives helped push the messages across platforms, according to six American officials. The amplification techniques are alarming to officials because the disinformation showed up as texts on many Americans’ cellphones, a tactic that several officials said they had not seen before.

Officials in Taiwan are trying to turn their success in battling the coronavirus at home into a geopolitical win, sending millions of masks emblazoned with the words “made in Taiwan” to countries hit hard by the crisis and launching a diplomatic and public relations campaign.

“We can see that this is a good opportunity for us to let people know that Taiwan is a good global citizen,” Taiwan’s vice president, Chen Chien-jen, said this week in an interview in Taipei. “We have to fight for our participation.”

But the moves are drawing fire from Beijing, which has dismissed the effort as an attempt to “seek independence under the pretext of the pandemic.”

Taiwan, with a population of 23 million, had reported 426 cases of coronavirus and six deaths as of Thursday, far fewer than many countries.

Born in Warsaw in 1923, Joseph Feingold was 17 when the Nazis invaded Poland. He and his father, a shoemaker, were caught by the Russian army while fleeing to Poland’s Russian-occupied east, and sent to separate labor camps in Siberia. His mother and a younger brother both stayed behind and died in concentration camps.

While he was at a displaced person’s camp near Frankfurt, Germany, Mr. Feingold spotted a violin at a flea market and traded cigarettes for it. He later brought it with him when he emigrated to New York.

Reporting was contributed by Katrin Bennhold, Austin Ramzy, Melissa Eddy, Megan Specia, Paul Mozur, Heather Murphy, Maria Abi-Habib, Vivian Yee, Jason Gutierrez, Raphael Minder, Steven Kurutz, Edward Wong, Matthew Rosenberg, Julian E. Barnes, Dan Levin, Vivian Wang, Ron DePasquale, Katrin Bennhold, Steven Kurutz, Derrick Bryson Taylor, Stanley Reed, Richard C. Paddock and Muktita Suhartono. Albee Zhang and Wang Yiwei contributed research.





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