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UN chief says COVID-19 is worst crisis since World War II

UNITED NATIONS — UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned Tuesday that the world faces the most challenging crisis since World War II, confronting a pandemic threatening people in every country, one that will bring a recession “that probably has no parallel in the recent past.”

There is also a risk that the combination of the disease and its economic impact will contribute to “enhanced instability, enhanced unrest, and enhanced conflict,” the UN chief said at the launch of a report on the socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19.

Guterres called for a much stronger and more effective global response to the coronavirus pandemic and to the social and economic devastation that COVID-19 is causing.

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He said this will only be possible “if everybody comes together and if we forget political games and understand that it is humankind that is at stake.”

He stressed that “we are still very far from where we need to be to effectively fight the COVID-19 worldwide and to be able to tackle the negative impacts on the global economy and the global societies.”

Associated Press

‘Field hospitals’ fill spaces that hosted wedding expos

LONDON — The shaky mobile phone video pans across the cavernous convention center that is being converted into three vast virus wards. The space goes on and on — six football fields long. It had been booked to host a wedding expo this week, before the ban on large gatherings. Instead, it will house as many as 4,000 beds and two morgues.

‘‘If you’re not taking it seriously, like I wasn’t, I think we really need to start, because they’re preparing for an absolute high death toll here,’’ said Alex Woodside, who was laying cables at the new, temporary ‘‘Nightingale Hospital’’ in east London’s ExCel Centre when he shot the video, which he posted on Facebook.

British newspapers called the footage ‘‘chilling.’’

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Just as foreboding, Britain’s National Health Service announced this week that, so great is the need for staff at the Nightingale, furloughed flight attendants from easyJet and Virgin Atlantic airlines will be sent in to assist doctors and nurses. The cabin crews will perform duties such as changing bedding.

Washington Post

Stranded Americans leave Nepal amid lockdown

KATHMANDU — Hundreds of stranded Americans left Nepal on a repatriation flight Tuesday, days after a complete lockdown was imposed in the Himalayan nation to help fight the coronavirus.

A Qatar Airways flight arranged by the US government flew out 302 Americans from Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport to Washington, D.C. The elderly, families with children, and people with a medical condition were given priority on the flight.

The US Embassy in Nepal estimates that 3,000 to 4,000 Americans are still in the country, but says that not all of them are seeking to leave. Plans for future flights to evacuate more of the Americans were unclear.

Passengers on board Tuesday’s flight said they paid $1,250 for the seat home.

Associated Press

Nursing homes in France have too few body bags

PARIS — One by one, elderly residents of French nursing homes are going into forced isolation into their rooms. Their caregivers are walling themselves in as well. They are running out of body bags.

But no one knows for sure how many people have become sick. Governments in Europe’s hardest-hit countries — Italy, Spain, and France — are not routinely testing for coronavirus among elderly residents who fall ill in nursing homes or even those who eventually die there, including those who suffered from symptoms of the disease.

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The three countries together make up around a third of the global pandemic’s confirmed cases, and the lack of testing leaves hundreds, potentially thousands, of victims of the disease uncounted as health authorities try to trace its path.

The heavy dependency upon hospitals to count coronavirus fatalities poses particular problems for evaluating the disease’s spread among the oldest citizens. Hospitals are increasingly reluctant to admit elderly coronavirus patients judged to have little chance of successful treatment.

Indications are they have paid a steep toll in anonymity.

Associated Press

Kenyan police shoot teen during curfew crackdown

NAIROBI — Just past midnight Tuesday, on Kenya’s fourth night of a coronavirus curfew, the country’s COVID-19 death toll stood at one, but the toll of an accompanying police crackdown ticked up to two.

That’s when Yassin Hussein Moyo, 13, bled to death.

He had been standing on his third-floor balcony in a shantytown in Nairobi, watching police storm the neighborhood, beating people who refused to abide by the curfew with their batons, when a police bullet struck his stomach.

Like many other African countries, Kenya has imposed sweeping restrictions on movement to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The curfew, which requires people to stay in their homes from dusk to dawn, is the most stringent limitation and has led to a wave of police violence.

Over the weekend, police injured dozens of people in the crackdown. On Saturday morning, a motorcycle taxi driver in the coastal city of Mombasa died from injuries that his family says he sustained from being beaten by a policeman after he dropped off a pregnant woman at a hospital after curfew. The police did not respond to requests for comment.

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Associated Press

Israel police force ultra-Orthodox to stay home

JERUSALEM — Israeli police are cracking down on ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods around the country, which have emerged as coronavirus hot spots as residents continue to ignore stay-at-home orders and bans on gatherings meant to stem the epidemic.

Authorities have carried out raids on synagogues and deployed helicopters, which hover over streets filled with black-clad religious students, after these crowded, insular communities recorded some of Israel’s highest rates of infection.

As police have pushed into some of these neighborhoods, violence has broken out. Young ultra-Orthodox men threw rocks at police in Jerusalem’s Mea Shearim neighborhood Monday after officers broke up a gathering at a synagogue and cited residents for straying more than 100 meters from their homes. Thirty residents were fined up to $1,400 for violating health restrictions, and the army sent patrols into the neighborhood on Tuesday.

Officials are now considering locking down on entire ultra-Orthodox areas.

Washington Post