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World Coronavirus Dispatch: Covid-19 is reaching the last places on Earth

Cases and deaths soar in France, of zoom weddings and virtual gifting, study says shoppers fret over health protocols at stores, and other pandemic-related news across the globe

Coronavirus | Coronavirus Tests | Lockdown

Yuvraj Malik  |  New Delhi 

Coronavirus, covid, tests

Covid-19 is reaching the last places on Earth: By most estimates, just nine countries have not yet reported any Covid-19 cases- far-flung Pacific island nations—Kiribati, the Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Samoa. On Wednesday, Vanuatu, a Pacific island nation about 1,200 miles northeast of Australia reported its first Covid-19 case. Two other countries in the Pacific Ocean, the Marshall Islands and Solomon Islands, reported their first infections in October. In Samoa, workers who serviced a ship with Covid-19-positive crew members are in quarantine. Most Pacific island countries closed their borders early in the Covid-19 outbreak. But as infections surge around the globe, with cases surpassing 50 million, the is beginning to creep in.

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Let’s look at the global statistics:

Total Confirmed Cases: 54,006,870

Change Over Yesterday: 621,615

Total Deaths: 1,312,356

Total Recovered: 34,779,380

Nations hit with most cases: US (10,905,598), India (8,814,579), Brazil (5,848,959), France (1,915,713) and Russia (1,910,149)

Source: Johns Hopkins Research Center (

Russian and North Korean operatives are trying to hack coronavirus research firms, Microsoft said: The names of the targeted firms, including some that have contracts with the US government, were not announced; Microsoft said it could only reveal that information with the permission of the firms. But it said seven companies were on the receiving end of the hacking activity, most of which was unsuccessful. The seven firms were in the US , Canada, South Korea, France and India. Read more here

Covid-19 cases and deaths in France rise sharply: France registered 32,095 new Covid-19 cases over the previous 24 hours to reach a total of 1,954,599. Deaths in hospitals in France rose by 359 over the previous 24 hours to reach a total of 44,246 so far.Read more here

Shoppers concerned about public health precautions at retail store: survey: Holiday shoppers braving the coronavirus pandemic to buy gifts in person are looking for is basic levels of protection and safety and they’re looking for that confidence that their needs are being looked after. More than 5,100 consumers were surveyed in the US, UK, Australia, China, Brazil, Mexico, Italy, France, Germany and the UAE in September. Contactless checkout and social distancing requirements are also paramount.

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Johnson & Johnson, US Department of Health sign for vaccine R&D: Under the agreement the company will commit approximately $604 million and the HHS Department’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority will commit about $454 million to support the Phase 3 ENSEMBLE trial evaluating Janssen’s investigational Covid-19 vaccine candidate as a single dose in up to 60,000 volunteers worldwide. Read more here

Global rich trigger 1,900 percent sales surge for UK country estates: Country houses of the merely wealthy (the “prime” market generally encompasses houses from £2 million to £10 million) saw sluggish growth, too. By the end of 2019’s third quarter, the market had seen more than five straight quarters of price declines, according to a report by Knight Frank. Going into 2020, prices were fetching about 20 perecnt below their peak in 2008. Read more here


Culture: Zoom and the lost art of interruption

The grievances with the world of online meetings are several and bitter. The sound is tinny. The hilarity of intruding pets and children has run its course as a comedic genre. The two-dimensional camera undersells the warp and weft of my hair. Of all the crimes of Zoom, though, much the worst is its chilling effect on interruption. To cut across someone is to risk that grim dance of confusion in which both parties talk simultaneously for a few seconds. It is the spoken equivalent of colliding pedestrians mirroring each other’s movements as they try to get past. Even the feigned obsequiousness (“No, you first, please”) is the same. And so we stay our tongues. The cost will never be quantifiable. But it is no less real for that: in thoughts held back until they are forgotten (or worse, over-rehearsed), in grandstanders licensed to burble on, in an absence of the pressure and jeopardy that hones our speech without our quite knowing it. Read more here

The new rules of virtual wedding gifting

The adage that you should gift the couple the same amount that they’re spending on you as a guest hasn’t applied in decades, and it shouldn’t apply to Zoom weddings, said Jacqueline Whitmore, the founder of the Protocol School of Palm Beach in Florida. The wedding cost and style, she said, should have nothing to do with your gift. Whitmore likes to gift from the registry; if the couple isn’t registered, she sends a gift card. But how about the virtual bridal shower? While etiquette experts agreed that it should remain the same cost-wise, the type of gifts have changed, said Kurt Perschke, the chief executive of Web Baby Shower, an online baby and bridal shower service based in Asheville, NC. Read more here

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First Published: Sun, November 15 2020. 17:48 IST