The virus timeline in Europe shifts
French doctors have traced a coronavirus case in suburban Paris to late December — a finding that, if verified, suggests that the virus appeared in Europe nearly a month earlier than previously thought.
It raises questions about how long the disease was circulating in Wuhan, China, before the outbreak was acknowledged by the authorities there.
The discovery came after doctors retested samples taken on Dec. 27 from a fishmonger who initially received a diagnosis of pneumonia; it is not clear how the patient contracted the infection. The sample was taken days before China reported the illness to the World Health Organization.
Keep in mind: Doctors caution that the finding must still be verified and that it is unclear if the patient’s case was tied to the wider epidemic.
What it might mean: The first serious measures that were put in place in France, largely in March, came much too late.
New: Two new studies offer compelling evidence that children can transmit the virus. Also, 15 children were hospitalized in New York with a mysterious syndrome possibly tied to Covid-19 that has also been reported in Europe.
Some Russian priests push back against ‘evil’ restrictions
As Covid-19 ripples through Russian Orthodox monasteries and parishes, many clerics are pushing back on the government’s efforts to limit public gatherings — an unusual rift between church and state.
While some priests closed parishes, others have threatened damnation for those who obey restrictions and preached that it is impossible to become infected in a church.
Russia has recorded more than 10,000 new confirmed infections per day.
Context: Around the world, zealous believers of many faiths have been particularly resistant to stay-at-home orders. In Russia, memories of religious persecution in the Soviet Union make people highly sensitive to government restrictions.
If you missed it: Three Russian medics have plunged from windows after complaining about officials’ handling of the pandemic.
Irish people return favor to Native Americans
In 1847, the Choctaw Nation sent $170 — the equivalent of more than $5,000 today — to starving Irish families during the potato famine. To this day, a sculpture in County Cork commemorates that act.
Now, Irish people are repaying that old kindness, giving hundreds of dollars to a fund-raiser for two Native American tribes that are suffering in the pandemic. As of Tuesday, more than $1.8 million has been raised for clean water, food and health supplies.
Quote: “I’d already known what the Choctaw did in the famine, so short a time after they’d been through the Trail of Tears,” one Irish donor said. “It seemed the right time to try and pay it back in kind.”
If you have 4 minutes, this is worth it
Taiwan says, ‘Play ball!’
The stands are filled with cardboard spectators, the locker rooms are stocked with sanitizer, and distancing is enforced between coaches and players. Online viewership has surged, watched by fans around the world who crave normalcy. Above, cheerleaders for the Rakuten Monkeys.
Here’s what else is happening
Philippines: A major broadcaster that had closely documented President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs was forced off the air on Tuesday, a victim of his crackdown on news outlets critical of his leadership.
Snapshot: Above, baobab trees in Madagascar. Our Travel desk takes you on a visual tour of the southern African island, where 90 percent of the flora and fauna are found nowhere else on Earth.
Magic at home: For his next trick, the “psychological illusionist” Karan Singh is performing free online from his New Delhi bedroom for anyone who asks.
What we’re reading: This critique of the Popeyes fried chicken sandwich by Devra First, The Boston Globe’s food writer and restaurant critic. The column, a finalist for a James Beard Award, “deftly details the taste, culture, distraction and criticism of the fast-food episode,” writes Remy Tumin, on the Briefings team.
Now, a break from the news
Cook: An easy Dutch baby. All you need are five simple ingredients: eggs, milk, butter, flour and salt. Serve with confectioner’s sugar and lemon juice on top, or maple syrup, or jam.
Do: Today may be the cutoff date to order flowers for Mother’s Day for delivery in the U.S.: Here are 10 florists with beautiful options. These desk organizers can help if you’ve been working from home (and will be for some time). And if you’ve never read Stephen King, we have your essential guide on where to start.
And now for the Back Story on …
Covering Covid-19 in China
Steven Lee Myers, our Beijing bureau chief, and Edward Wong, our diplomatic correspondent, this week discussed covering the coronavirus outbreak in China. Steven left Beijing on April 1 after the Chinese authorities expelled American journalists from The Times and two other U.S. newspapers. He is relocating to Seoul. Here’s a short excerpt.
Steven: It’s been a slow opening, and it’s not a “turn the lights on one day and suddenly everything is back to normal.” Far from it.
As they see the cases decline, they begin to loosen restrictions on people staying at home, opening museums, but by no means is everything open yet.
The exception is Beijing, the capital. The restrictions have been intensifying in Beijing, oddly, as the cases have gone down. Partly that’s because they are so worried about the possibility of a second wave coming or people returning from other parts of China to the capital, which is obviously the political center of the country. They are very concerned about the party leadership.
Ed: Were there any measures that China took that you think the U.S. and others can learn from?
Steven: I was struck by how few people were wearing masks when I arrived in the U.S. What China has done and what the people have done there, setting aside the government response, is that the people took this very seriously from the beginning, and they really limited themselves.
People just heeded the advice, sheltered in place, kept their kids home. That is probably the biggest impact they had against the spread of the virus.