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World Coronavirus Dispatch: Zambia's default sparks fears of debt tsunami

Pandemic puts AIDS-related gains at risk, Museum of London asks citizens to share Covid dreams, virus revives debate on value of high-stake exams, and other pandemic-related news across the globe

Coronavirus | HIV Aids | United Nations

Akash Podishetty  |  Hyderabad 

Hospitals across Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Dakota and Iowa fear rising infections could overwhelm the already strained health systems.|Photo Bloomberg

Zambia's default sparks fears of African debt tsunami As nations count the economic costs of coronavirus, and international agencies like IMF and G20 look the otherside, Zambia became the first African country to default on its debts after missing payments in October and November. The neighbouring countries are rattled by this development amd fear they too could default on their debt obligations. Global agencies have blamed the country for taking more debt than it can handle. The surge in meant that zambia had to divert its scanty resources to the fragile healthcare system. Officials are now debating whether its time to spend more on servicing debt repayments. Experts warn the potential wave of defaults could have catastrophic effects on already fragile health facilities. Read more...

Let's look at the global statistics

Global infections: 60,997,052

Change over yesterday: 576,697

Global deaths: 1,432,299

Nations with most cases: US (12,883,847), India (9,309,787), Brazil (6,204,220), France (2,235,537), Russia(2,169,424)

Source: John Hopkins Coronavirus Research Center

Pandemic puts AIDS-related gains at risk Complete attention towards the pandemic has diverted the world from other pressing health problems like HIV-AIDS infections. While there has been progress in eradicating AIDS, it still falls short of what is required. A senior UN director has warned that the progress towards ending AIDS by 2031 could be derailed due to disruption in medical-health services. Data reveals that additional 500,000 HIV-related deaths could reported in Sub-Saharan Africa by the end of 2021. According to a report, nearly 38 million are now living with HIV, 25.4 million of whom are under medication. Read more... Covid could set women's equality back by 25 years More women are said to be doing domestic unpaid work since the pandemic started than before, data from the suggests. The gains acheived over the years towards could be setback by atleast 25 years. The trends are similar for both the middle-income countries and industrialised ones. Experts fear employment and education opportunities could be lost for women. Even more alrming is women may actually come out of the pandemic with more mental health scars. The story, through three women, looks at how the pandemic has impacted the amount of work they do. Read here... Many in don't think their health system can deal with virus Most people in are concerned whether the country's health system can cope with rampaging virus, a survey has found. Nearly 82 per cent respondents said they were worried about their health systems. As daily cases spike and hospitals fill up, confidence in the authorities’ ability to fight the virus sank. As per latest data, just over 70 per cent of Sweden’s intensive care beds were occupied. is among the hardest hit nations with high mortality rates in Europe as its controversial decision to avoid a lockdown seem to have backfired. Read more... Museum of London asks Londoners to share Covid dreams The Museum of London is asking Londoners to come forward and share their dreams during the course of the pandemic. Working with the Museum of Dreams at Western University in Canada, Officials say the project is a part of the museum’s efforts to tell the story of London through the pandemic.

The Guardians of Sleep project will capture dreams without interpretation or analysis, but the testimonies will be made available for research. Many researchers around the world are also working on projects to materialise how the pandemic is affecting our thoughts while we sleep. Read here... Specials View from ICU: The US Midwest is exhausted Hospitals across Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Dakota and Iowa fear rising infections could overwhelm the already strained health systems. Consider this: In mid-November the Midwest accounted for half of all new cases in nursing homes in America. Aslo this: Across Iowa, 80 per cent of ICU beds are now occupied. In North Dakota it is over 90 per cent. Some of the hospitals are functioning at over 100 per cent of ICU beds. The rapid surge in infections might force doctors not to accept patients anymore. If the progression of second wave continues, the smallest rural clinics, with just a handful of beds and a single doctor, can be easily overrun. Sometimes, the frontline staff are enduring moral injury --- the trauma as a result of caring for slowly dying patients and listening to last words of relatives. Read more... Long Read: The pandemic revives debate on value of high-stakes exams The pandemic has disrupted education systems around the world and reignited the debate about the value of top-level school and university exams, where students future is at stake. While some nations cancelled the tests, most of them went ahead with big exams. Some others asked teachers to help decide students' grades. The story looks at how countries went about conducting important in-person exams during the pandemic and how did students gear up especially after many switched to online learning and also throws some light about the merits of exams in assessing a candidate's intelligence. Read here... How Trump admin delivered on vaccine front Developing vaccines at record speed has to be one of the Trump administration's bright spot. With so many unknowns about the virus, critics rubbished a breakthrough by the end of the year and said it was nearly impossible. The country's vaccine programme head Moncef Slaoui now feels he is vindicated. Operation Warp Speed, with an investment of $10 billion, was set up to fund several vaccine candidates and therapies like antibody treatments. The focus was on getting supplies for manufacturers and help them navigate through regulatory hurdles. Moderna, currently a loss making firm has received nearly $2.5 billion in funding. Apart from funding, 'Warp Speed' has secured pre-orders from other vaccines makers. Pfizer, which has stayed away from direct investment, benefitted from a pre-order of $2 billion. Read more...

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First Published: Fri, November 27 2020. 13:44 IST