Your Friday Briefing – The New York Times

Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan are confronting new waves of coronavirus cases, largely fueled by infected people who recently arrived from other countries, according to data compiled by The Times’s graphics team.

Singapore is also seeing a rise in community cases, with more than 400 in the past week linked to migrant worker dormitories.

None of these places had a single day with more than 10 new cases until March, but that changed in the past two weeks.

Students or expatriates returning from Europe or the U.S. account for a large share of the imported cases.

Related: New research indicates that the coronavirus began to circulate in the New York area, the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, weeks before the first confirmed case, and that travelers brought the virus mainly from Europe, not Asia. U.S. travel restrictions were placed first on China, and on Europe weeks later.

Overview: More than 1.5 million cases of the virus have been confirmed across at least 177 countries, and 91,000 people have died. Here are the latest updates from the U.S., where the virus has stricken more than 449,000 people. We also have the international picture and maps of the pandemic.

  • Saudi Arabia announced a cease-fire in the war in Yemen, which could pave the way toward ending the five-year conflict, citing fears the coronavirus could spread in the impoverished, war-torn country. The virus has stricken Saudi Arabia’s sprawling royal family.

  • In India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told government ministers that a complete lifting of the country’s lockdown was “not possible,” signaling that the measure would be extended beyond the initial 21-day period, which expires on April 15.

  • Mumbai and New Delhi have made face masks mandatory in public. European nations, and even the U.S., are starting to adopt masks, too, a practice long established in Asia.

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain was moved out of intensive care on Thursday but remained in the hospital for treatment for the coronavirus. The news offered some relief in the country as it faces several more weeks under lockdown and a death toll nearing 8,000.

  • In New York State, new hospitalizations fell for another day, but another 799 people died with the virus.

  • U.S. stocks climbed after the Federal Reserve announced an expansion of its emergency lending powers, but the gains faded after oil prices fell. The S&P 500 was up less than 1 percent. Shares in Europe were sharply higher.

  • The authorities in Australia are investigating how infected passengers from the cruise ship Ruby Princess were allowed to disembark last month. Hundreds of them have tested positive and 15 have died, in the deadliest single source of infection in Australia.

The Times is providing free access to much of our coronavirus coverage, and our Coronavirus Briefing newsletter — like all of our newsletters — is free. Please consider supporting our journalism with a subscription.

China, the world’s second largest economy after the U.S., is helping companies keep workers and pushing its state-run banks to lend more. But so far, the country’s leaders have held back from huge cash injections to shore up the economy.

In contrast, the U.S., Japan and European countries have opted for giant stimulus packages during the coronavirus pandemic.

In the U.S., Congress and the Federal Reserve Bank have raced to create programs. On Thursday, the Fed said it could pump $2.3 trillion into the economy in its effort to keep credit flowing, but a proposed $250 billion infusion for small business loans was being held up in the Senate and a burst of 16 million jobless claims over three weeks shows that the programs have not kept payrolls intact.

European finance ministers were holding a second videoconference meeting to take another stab at joint measures to cushion the blow of the outbreak. A major question is whether they can agree to issue joint bonds — the E.U. has never yet agreed to share debt.

A proposal: Prominent economists are calling on Beijing to take similar action, and many suggest distributing vouchers nationwide that must be spent quickly or expire. That would force consumers to spend immediately to stimulate demand.

The director-general of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of Ethiopia, said Wednesday he had been the target of racist comments and death threats over the past three months that have originated in Taiwan.

Taiwan has been frozen out of the W.H.O. after pressure from Beijing, and like Japan and India, is critical of the organization’s perceived bias toward China and its slowness in documenting human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus and declaring a global pandemic.

Dr. Tedros said that he didn’t care about personal attacks, but that “when the whole black community is insulted, when Africa is insulted, then I don’t tolerate it.” African leaders have come to his defense.

Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, responded to Dr. Tedros’s complaint that the government had not distanced itself from the criticism, writing on Facebook: “Taiwan has always opposed all forms of discrimination. For years, we have been excluded from international organizations, and we know better than anyone else what it feels like to be discriminated against and isolated.”

In the U.S.: President Trump unleashed a tirade against the health organization on Tuesday.

The Times’s Opinion section is starting an ambitious project to envision how the U.S. can eventually come out of the current moment stronger, fairer and more free.

In an introduction, our editorial page editor, James Bennet, writes: “This pandemic offers the same opportunity that Americans have seized during past crises: to set aside petty differences, recognize national priorities and set to work again on creating a more perfect union. We’re launching this initiative in hopes of supporting that national instinct.”

U.S. presidential election: Having become the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden is now aiming to win over Bernie Sanders’s younger, more liberal voters and unify the party.

Northern Ireland abortion: New laws making abortion freely available went into effect on March 31, but women continue to be denied access to services and are instead enduring an eight-hour ferry ride to Liverpool, England, despite the coronavirus lockdown. The regional power-sharing government is still debating how to roll out the new services.

Turkey imprisonment: Osman Kavala, the country’s most prominent political prisoner, is a philanthropist who has been accused of espionage, links to terror groups and trying to overthrow the Erdogan government — which distrusts him particularly because he embodies Turkey’s leftist-leaning, secular elite.

Snapshot: Above, a bodega in Brooklyn, N.Y., last week. Millions of New Yorkers are turning to the corner stores for basics like toilet paper, hand sanitizer and a little sense of community.

Weird Al Yankovic: After 40 years, the renowned comedy musician is “no longer a novelty, but an institution — a garish bright patch in the middle of America’s pop-cultural wallpaper, a completely ridiculous national treasure, an absurd living legend,” according to The Times Magazine’s profile.

What we’re checking out: The Social Distancing Festival, a calendar of live-streamed events. “You’ve probably already exhausted your Netflix and HBO options,” writes our national correspondent Michael Wines, “so here are some different video offerings to fill those lonely hours.”

Cook: Matzo brei is the traditional Passover breakfast, which some prefer sweet and others savory. Our food writer Melissa Clark goes for savory — topped with golden fried onions.

Read: Broken” is a new collection of novellas from Don Winslow, which Janet Maslin says show his range, and his bite. One begins: “No one knows how the chimp got the revolver.”

Listen: Priya Parker has a new podcast for The Times, “Together Apart,” and the first episode is all about how to celebrate Passover, Ramadan or Easter digitally. Also, here are John Prine’s essential songs.

You can stay safe at home and still find lots of things to do. Here’s our At Home page, with a full collection of ideas on what to cook, read, listen to, watch, and do.

When a parody of The New York Times appeared on newsstands during an 88-day strike of newspaper employees in 1978, celebrated writers like Nora Ephron and George Plimpton were credited with the coup.

It turns out, Times journalists had joined them: “Not The New York Times” was also an inside job.

The parody featured three full sections, 24 joke advertisements, 73 spoof articles and 155 fake news briefs, all meticulously edited to mimic The Times’s style. Even the font used on the front page and the spacing of the headlines exactly replicated those of the real paper.

The writer of one column praised Genghis Khan for his ability to “get things done,” and an in-depth investigation by a team of 35 Not The Times reporters found that cocaine “appears popular.”

“We all had a lot of time on our hands,” said designer Richard Yeend.

After the strike ended, the Times journalists went back to work and kept quiet about their satirical moonlighting.

That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.

— Carole

Thank you
To Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the break from the news. The Back Story was based on reporting by Alex Traub. You can reach the team at

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about how Mardi Gras in New Orleans may have played a role in the spread of the coronavirus.
• Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: Old saying (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• In the latest episode of The Times’s new podcast “Sugar Calling,” the best-selling author Cheryl Strayed speaks to Margaret Atwood about what she’s reading in these days of isolation.

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