The call for an investigation infuriated Beijing, which has rejected criticism of its initial response to the coronavirus. The move, indicative of Australia’s willingness to confront China, has shaken up global diplomacy.
Middle-power countries in Europe and Asia have forged new bonds based on what they have learned from the pandemic: that the risks of China’s authoritarian government can no longer be denied, and that the U.S. cannot be relied on to lead.
“For the rules-based international order to mean anything, it needs to be upheld,” said one Australian lawmaker. “If the world doesn’t respond and act now, when will it ever act?”
The middle-power alliances might be short-lived, but they could also offer an alternative to the dynamic between the world’s two superpowers.
In other developments:
Six new coronavirus cases have been reported in the city of Wuhan, China, where the virus first emerged late last year. An 89-year-old man was confirmed to be infected on Saturday, the first confirmed case in the city since early April, and five new cases were announced on Monday.
India’s train network will gradually restart operations on Tuesday as the country eases its coronavirus lockdown, even though the number of infections there are rising.
Cases of the virus are climbing steadily in the U.S. capital region with at least 6,389 total cases in the District of Columbia, and 328 deaths, a higher rate of death than in most states, as of Monday.
European countries took some of their biggest steps yet toward lifting coronavirus lockdowns on Monday, but life remained far from normal. Gyms reopened in parts of Germany, and some schools and shops reopened in France.
As states around the U.S. reopen without meeting basic criteria, officials and experts worry of a resurgence of the virus.
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Underreporting the virus toll in Russia
Russia’s government has boasted of a low coronavirus mortality rate, confounding researchers who compared it to other countries with underfunded health systems.
But new data released by Moscow’s city government on Friday shows that the number of registered deaths there in April exceeded the five-year average for the same period by more than 1,700. It calls into question the official Covid-19 death count of 642.
The numbers contrast sharply with the Kremlin’s line. President Vladimir Putin ordered the end of a nationwide “non-working period” on Monday, claiming success in slowing the spread of the virus.
Scope: A similar picture of possible underreporting has appeared in Belarus, whose leader has rejected calls for a lockdown, and in Mexico, where officials have recorded three times as many deaths in the capital as the government has acknowledged.
If you have some time, this is worth it
Human endurance and the Silk Road
Over the course of the Silk Road’s centuries of history, humanity faced some of the worst illnesses, from plagues to cholera. Still, the road continued. The stories about the trade route featured in the latest Travel issue of T, The Times’s style magazine, have been in the works for a year, long before the pandemic changed the world — but they have more lessons for us right now than you might think. Above, an undated view of Tbilisi.
“Let us find some comfort,” writes Hanya Yanagihara, T’s editor in chief, “in the knowledge that we are preceded by centuries of human endurance, those travelers who remind us that every journey, no matter how difficult, ends with our finding our way back.”
Find the stories from the issue here.
Here’s what else is happening
Iran friendly-fire incident: A missile fired Sunday from an Iranian Navy frigate struck another Iranian naval vessel during a military exercise in the Sea of Oman, killing at least 19 sailors. It was the second time this year that Iran appeared to have fired a missile at the wrong target with deadly consequences.
What we’re reading: This widely shared look at the science of coronavirus transmission by an immunology expert, Eric Bromage. “A clear, deep and fascinating roundup of the state of the science,” writes Andrea Kannapell, the Briefings editor.
Now, a break from the news
Cook: A cozy vegetable-sausage soup. Make up a big pot, brimming with roots and greens from the crisper, for a little bit of comfort.
And now for the Back Story on …
Rising levels of pandemic stress
As shelter-in-place orders drag, the journalists Francesca Donner and Corinne Purtill had a conversation about the hard-to-ignore rising levels of stress. Below is an edited and condensed excerpt. You can sign up for the In Her Words newsletter here.
Corinne: Hi, Francesca. We’re now — let me check my notes here — about seven and a half years into home quarantine. How are you doing?
Francesca: Well, technically fine. But it’s been well over a month since my kids stopped going to school and I stopped going to the office, and we officially stopped seeing people other than a grocery worker here or there. Not to point out the obvious, but it starts to wear you down. You?
Corinne: Same. On good days, I remember to be grateful that my family is healthy, and we have a safe place to stay. But I still liked it better back when I had all that stuff and I could go wherever I wanted.
Francesca: You can see people starting to unravel. A LeanIn.Org survey out this week suggests women are experiencing stress at up to twice the rate of men. And being under this pressure makes us — women and men — do and say things that, well, we might not normally do. Parents shouting at kids. Adults shouting at each other.
One friend of mine said she threw her husband’s clothes out of the window because he left them on the floor. She said it was extremely cathartic.
Corinne: Oh my God. I think I just snorted my coffee through my nose.
Francesca: Corinne, is there anything you do to manage your stress?
Corinne: I leave my house. On foot. Once a day. It doesn’t really matter where I go. I walk or run, I feel air on my skin, I take a break from doing and just be. You?
Francesca: Hikes with my family. Every day. Rain or shine.
That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.
— Melina and Carole
To Melissa Clark for the recipe, and to Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the rest of the break from the news. You can reach the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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