India’s cases rise as its lockdown eases
Part of India’s success in curbing the coronavirus outbreak was its fierce lockdown — the largest in the world. But now that restrictions on movement are being lifted, the dangerous contagion appears to be spreading.
The country is already regressing: The caseload is now doubling every 9.5 days, instead of every 12 days. The daily death toll has shot up to more than 100, from a few dozen in mid-April.
About a third of India’s reported infections are in Mumbai and New Delhi, but there are hot spots in other urban centers. Officials are worried they don’t have the resources they need to prevent a much bigger outbreak.
“There’s no police around, nobody is enforcing the lockdown, people are out everywhere,” said an exasperated shopkeeper.
Other worries: As the heat rises — it hit 40 degrees Celsius a few days ago — people who live in cramped quarters are finding it unbearable to stay inside. Officials are worried it will be hard to revert to the restrictions now that they have been lifted.
On the ground: The streets in New Delhi that were deserted last week are now thronged with people. Most wear masks, as required, but many wear them off their chins. People crowd shops, often leaning over one another.
Here are the latest updates and maps.
In other developments:
The European Union is at risk for a deep recession, with investment expected to collapse and deficits to balloon. The economy is set to shrink 7.4 percent this year, the European Commission said, far more than during its worst recession, in 2009, when the economy shrank 4.5 percent.
Beijing fired back at Trump administration officials’ claims that the coronavirus originated in a Wuhan lab. A spokeswoman for China’s Foreign Ministry pointed to a leaked memo by Republicans suggesting that attacks on China should be a campaign issue. “Continuing the drama is meaningless,” she said.
Chancellor Angela Merkel laid out plans for restarting public life in Germany, with schools, restaurants stores and day care centers allowed to reopen in the coming days. That is welcome news for Europe, which is looking to Germany, its largest economy, to show the way out of the paralysis the pandemic has caused.
Antibodies from a 4-year-old llama named Winter may lead scientists to a virus treatment. Llamas have long been part of virus and antibody studies.
Markets wavered in the U.S. amid falling oil prices, after drops in Asia and Europe.
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Levada published the numbers on Wednesday, the same day the government reported 10,000 new cases across the country for the fourth day in a row. That raised the nationwide total to at least 165,929.
Details: Mr. Putin’s approval rating sank to 59 percent in April, a four-point drop from the previous month and an 11-point drop from October. It was a far cry from the nearly 90 percent approval he enjoyed after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
What Covid-19 feels like
An anvil sitting on your chest. An alien takeover. A really long hangover.
Our reporters talked to people who had the coronavirus and recovered. In vivid terms, they described what it was like to endure this scary illness.
Loss of taste and smell: A 39-year-old hair stylist described putting some onions in his Instant Pot to sauté: “I put my face in the pot, but I couldn’t smell the onions.”
Aches and pain: “Nothing in my body felt like it was working,” said a 43-year-old woman who owns a public relations firm. “I felt so beat up, like I had been in a boxing ring with Mike Tyson.”
Difficulty breathing: “Walking made me lose my breath. I was just gasping. It felt like drowning,” said a 38-year-old assistant professor.
Recovery: “Two steps forward, one step back,” said a 35-year-old illustrator in New York. “When it was over, I woke up feeling like a weight let go of me.”
If you have 6 minutes, this is worth it
From home, a magician steps onto a world stage
As artists struggle for ways to perform during the pandemic, Mr. Singh, a magician in New Delhi, has been doing free, online shows for anyone who asks, performing card tricks and feats of mentalism.
“I would have gone mad if I didn’t have an audience to perform for,” he said.
Here’s what else is happening
Kashmir: The death of a top militant leader led to a fresh wave of unrest in the disputed Himalayan territory. The leader, Riyaz Ahmad Naikoo, had recruited scores of young Kashmiris in an armed quest for independence from India.
U.S. presidential election: In the first major poll addressing how voters are seeing allegations of sexual harassment against former Vice President Joe Biden, Mr. Biden widened his lead over President Trump.
Snapshot: Above, an intermediate-mass black hole (in the white circle), one of the rarest and most-sought in the universe. In a recent paper, researchers described going on a cosmic chase for this black hole, which sheds light on how the universe was assembled.
What we’re listening to: Home Cooking, a podcast from Hrishikesh Hirway and the chef and Times contributor Samin Nosrat. “It takes a simple premise — what should we cook during lockdown? — and spices it up with reader questions, infectious chemistry between the two sparring hosts, and more than a few bad puns,” says Adam Pasick, on the Briefings team.
Now, a break from the news
Cook: Congee, also called jook. Have it for breakfast, dressed with soy sauce, scallions, ginger and diced thousand-year-old egg. Or for dinner, especially when bulked up with meat, seafood or vegetables.
And now for the Back Story on …
What happens when we start traveling again
Passenger traffic on U.S. airlines is down 95 percent compared with last year, and hotel occupancy rates have fallen off a cliff. Yet, people are still making plans to travel once the pandemic ebbs and restrictions are lifted.
Our reporters looked at the future of travel, from getting on the plane to joining a tour group, and answered some key questions. Here are the highlights:
Can airlines keep people apart and make a profit?
Airlines are keeping middle seats open to conform to social distancing in airplanes, and many are requiring that passengers wear face masks. They are also doing more cleaning, including filling planes with a germ-killing fog before crews wipe down surfaces. So far only one airline, Emirates, which is based in Dubai, has offered virus tests to a limited number of passengers. Air Canada plans to begin taking temperature readings at check-in this month.
Where will travelers go first?
Expect a boom in road trips. R.V. companies may reap the rewards from that. International travel will take much longer to bounce back. Getting permission to visit a country will probably be more tedious, requiring more documentation and more rigorous health checks. A lack of clarity over who is in charge, and where, will dissuade many would-be travelers, especially at the beginning of the recovery.
Will hospitality still have a personal touch?
Hotel lobbies that once were decorated for warmth will switch to a cold-but-gleaming scene, with staff frequently circulating with disinfectant. Expect more touchless check-in using apps. Major hotel companies are experimenting with electrostatic spraying to disinfect interiors, and ultraviolet light to sanitize room keys.
Hospitality will be faceless and encourage social distancing. Marriott plans to offer contact-free room service through its cellphone app. Hilton rooms will have a seal on the doors, indicating they haven’t been entered since they were last cleaned.
That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.
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 email@example.com.
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about the two chambers of Congress in the U.S. taking different approaches to social distancing.
• Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: Part of the eye (four letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Vindu Goel, who has spent the last two and a half years as a correspondent in India, is joining our audience team.