The number of new cases of Covid-19 continued to rise around the world again this week, but remained far from the record level struck in early January, according to AFP data. The number of new cases increased by 14% around the world, to 465,300 on average every day. The increase confirms an upward trend which started a month ago, after an unprecedented fall earlier in the year when the number of new cases was cut by half. The number of confirmed cases only reflects a fraction of the actual number of infections.
EU plodding stirs ECB concerns
The European Union’s path to joint fiscal stimulus is looking less assured than its monetary guardians would like, casting further clouds over an outlook already stunted by the bloc’s botched vaccination drive, reports Bloomberg. European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde last week gave a hint of alarm to lawmakers on the slow rollout of the 750 billion-euro pandemic recovery fund, building on the warning of colleagues. That heaps pressure on the EU’s leadership to get its flagship tool right, especially with other parts of its crisis response faltering. The U.S.’s more advanced immunization push and President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus that is already posting checks to citizens highlight Europe’s contrasting shortcomings. While America’s consumption-boosting splurge isn’t directly comparable to the EU’s longer-term and investment-focused fund, it’ll still fuel a visibly quicker rebound. Federal Reserve Chair Jay Powell reinforced the point last week declaring he would “love to see Europe growing faster”.
One week ultimatum to Tigray fighters
Ethiopia’s prime minister issued a “final notice” Friday to the fugitive leaders of the country’s embattled Tigray region, saying they should surrender peacefully to avoid “severe punishment” and prevent the “misery of their people.” At the same time, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed urged the untold hundreds of thousands of ethnic Tigrayans who have fled their communities over the past four months of fighting to return to their homes within a week and resume “normal lives.” Abiy’s notice alleges that some civilians took up arms, perhaps under threat of force, but said they “are not the main culprits.” The new warning came as people described seeing a larger presence of Ethiopian forces on the way to the place that Tigrayans have used to flee the region, the border crossing into the remote town of Hamdayet in Sudan. Ethiopian and allied forces for months have allegedly blocked people from crossing.
Childhood obesity on the rise
Confined to their homes amid the covid-19 pandemic, children are facing a higher risk of obesity due to increased intake of junk food, lack of socialisation and physical activities, healthcare experts have warned. Covid-19 is expected to possibly worsen the problem of obesity in middle and high socio economic groups, they said. The economic, food, and health systems disruptions resulting from the covid-19 pandemic, healthcare experts said, are expected to continue to exacerbate all forms of malnutrition. The latest National Family Health Survey, which was conducted in 22 states in pre-pandemic times, presented a dire picture of nutrition of children in the country.While on the one hand, it showed a rise in malnutrition in several states, the government survey also presented an increase of obesity among children in 20 of the 22 surveyed states.
Turkey strikes Syrian Kurdish zone
The Turkish airforce conducted its first strikes in 17 months against a zone in north Syria held by Kurdish militia on Saturday night, a monitor said. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Turkish fighter jet has struck military positions of Syrian Democratic Forces in Saida village in Ain Issa countryside… which caused loud explosions. This was the first aerial raid since “Operation Peace Spring”—an October 2019 military campaign launched by Ankara and its Syrian allies against the SDF in northern Syria. That operation, interrupted after two accords negotiated by Ankara with first Washington, and then Moscow, allowed Turkey to seize control of a “safe zone” inside Syria around 120 kilometres long. The air strikes come the same day as “violent clashes” and “intensive rocket fire” on the frontlines of Ain Issa district between SDF forces and Turkish-backed factions.
Flood evacuation orders issued in Oz
Thousands of people in Sydney’s outer suburbs were ordered to evacuate Sunday, as Australia’s east coast was hit by record rainfall and widespread flooding. Emergency services issued the evacuation orders for several low-lying areas in the city’s north-west, a day after authorities warned of potentially “life-threatening” flash floods in New South Wales state. People had already begun flocking to evacuation centres in towns north of Sydney as torrential rains on Saturday pummelled a vast coastal region already soaked by an unusually wet summer. In Taree, where television images showed one house floating down a bloated river, about 150 people slept in a local auditorium overnight that has previously been used a refuge for people fleeing bushfires. The Warragamba Dam, which provides much of the drinking water for Sydney, spilled over Saturday afternoon in what experts expected to be the first significant overflow of the reservoir since 1990.
Curated by Sohini Sen. Have something to share with us? Write to us at feedback@livemint or tweet to @shohinisen