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We’re covering reports from North Korea of its first suspected coronavirus case, the downward spiral in US-China relations and a city in Thailand besieged by hungry monkeys.
North Korea declares emergency over what it says may be its first virus case
Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader, placed Kaesong City, near the country’s border with the South, under lockdown and declared a national emergency after acknowledging that his country might have its first case of the coronavirus.
A North Korean who defected to South Korea three years ago but secretly crossed back into Kaesong City last week was “suspected to have been infected with the vicious virus,” the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said on Sunday.
Until now, North Korea, one of the world’s most isolated countries, has said that it has no cases of Covid-19, although outside experts have questioned the claim.
Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.
In other developments:
Vietnam, which had gone 100 days without a case of locally transmitted coronavirus, said on Saturday that a 57-year-old man in the central city of Danang had tested positive for the virus. A second man has since tested positive. How they were infected remained a mystery.
Britain’s transportation secretary, Grant Shapps, was among the thousands of Britons who were blindsided by the government’s decision to impose a quarantine on anyone arriving from Spain.
President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil said on Saturday that he no longer had the coronavirus, appearing to have experienced only mild symptoms from a scourge he has repeatedly downplayed. More than 86,000 people in Brazil have died from the virus.
Australia on Sunday reported its highest one-day death toll — 10 people, all in the state of Victoria.
Marching toward a U.S.-China split
With President Trump trailing badly in the polls as the U.S. presidential election nears, his national security officials have intensified their attacks on China, targeting its officials, diplomats and business executives.
Some U.S. officials, worried that Mr. Trump will lose, are also trying to engineer irreversible changes, our correspondents write. China’s leader, Xi Jinping, has hardened attitudes in Washington by brushing aside international concern and cracking down on basic freedoms, from Xinjiang to Hong Kong.
“They want to reorient the U.S.-China relationship toward an all-encompassing systemic rivalry that cannot be reversed by the outcome of the upcoming U.S. election,” said Ryan Hass, who served as a director for China on the National Security Council under President Barack Obama and is now at the Brookings Institution. “They believe this reorientation is needed to put the United States on a competitive footing against its 21st-century geostrategic rival.”
Election strategy: From the start of his presidency, Mr. Trump has vowed to change the country’s relationship with China, but he has mainly focused on trade. Now, Mr. Trump’s campaign aides hope aggressive talk about China on many fronts will help energize voters.
Related: Japan has not confronted China as the U.S. and other allies have, mindful of its neighbor’s economic might and its own limited military options.
If you have 15 minutes, this is worth it
See how the virus spread along the Amazon
The Amazon River is South America’s essential life source, the central artery in a vast network of tributaries that sustains some 30 million people across eight countries, moving supplies, people and industry. Above, testing in Manacaparu, Brazil.
But it is also bringing the coronavirus. As the pandemic ravages Brazil, the virus is taking an exceptionally high toll on the Amazon region. Our photographer Tyler Hicks traveled the river for weeks, documenting how the virus spread.
Here’s what else is happening
Russia protests: Tens of thousands of demonstrators rallied for the third straight weekend in Khabarovsk, in Russia’s Far East, to protest the arrest of a governor. The outpouring of anger highlights the discontent that President Vladimir Putin faces across the country.
U.S. unrest: Weeks of violent clashes between federal agents and protesters in Portland, Ore., galvanized thousands to march through the streets of U.S. cities over the weekend. Protests in Seattle ended after the police confronted a crowd of about 5,000 as some people were setting fires. Officers fired flash grenades, showering protesters with pepper spray and abruptly rushing into crowds, knocking people to the ground.
India floods: More than 100 animals, including 10 endangered one-horned rhinoceroses, have died in massive flooding at the famed Kaziranga game reserve in northeastern India.
In memoriam: Olivia de Havilland, an actress who gained movie immortality in “Gone With the Wind,” died on Sunday at her home in Paris. She was 104 and one of the last surviving stars of Hollywood’s fabled Golden Age.
Snapshot: Above, monkeys in Lopburi, Thailand. The onetime capital of a Siamese kingdom is under siege by crab-eating macaques, who miss the food they got from tourists before the pandemic and are getting aggressive.
What we’re reading: This Mediaite collection of a new Twitter meme. “I have a joke about today’s briefing, but let me just give you the punchline,” writes the Briefings editor, Andrea Kannapell, with a wink.
Now, a break from the news
Cook: Fried chicken biscuits with hot honey butter could be a weeknight dinner with a side of greens, but they’re also perfect for a picnic.
The Coronavirus Outbreak ›
Frequently Asked Questions
Updated July 27, 2020
Should I refinance my mortgage?
- It could be a good idea, because mortgage rates have never been lower. Refinancing requests have pushed mortgage applications to some of the highest levels since 2008, so be prepared to get in line. But defaults are also up, so if you’re thinking about buying a home, be aware that some lenders have tightened their standards.
What is school going to look like in September?
- It is unlikely that many schools will return to a normal schedule this fall, requiring the grind of online learning, makeshift child care and stunted workdays to continue. California’s two largest public school districts — Los Angeles and San Diego — said on July 13, that instruction will be remote-only in the fall, citing concerns that surging coronavirus infections in their areas pose too dire a risk for students and teachers. Together, the two districts enroll some 825,000 students. They are the largest in the country so far to abandon plans for even a partial physical return to classrooms when they reopen in August. For other districts, the solution won’t be an all-or-nothing approach. Many systems, including the nation’s largest, New York City, are devising hybrid plans that involve spending some days in classrooms and other days online. There’s no national policy on this yet, so check with your municipal school system regularly to see what is happening in your community.
Is the coronavirus airborne?
- The coronavirus can stay aloft for hours in tiny droplets in stagnant air, infecting people as they inhale, mounting scientific evidence suggests. This risk is highest in crowded indoor spaces with poor ventilation, and may help explain super-spreading events reported in meatpacking plants, churches and restaurants. It’s unclear how often the virus is spread via these tiny droplets, or aerosols, compared with larger droplets that are expelled when a sick person coughs or sneezes, or transmitted through contact with contaminated surfaces, said Linsey Marr, an aerosol expert at Virginia Tech. Aerosols are released even when a person without symptoms exhales, talks or sings, according to Dr. Marr and more than 200 other experts, who have outlined the evidence in an open letter to the World Health Organization.
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?
- So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.
Watch: “Muppets Now,” a new series on Disney+, is the latest attempt to take Kermit the Frog and his fuzzy companions back to their anarchic sketch comedy roots.
Listen: Taylor Swift, J. Cole, the Avalanches, Vusi Mahlasela and others are on this week’s playlist of most notable new songs, compiled by our pop critics.
Find more ideas on what to read, cook, watch in our At Home collection.
And now for the Back Story on …
A pandemic respite for Times correspondents
Stationed all over the world, foreign correspondents can feel isolated. Alissa J. Rubin, our Baghdad bureau chief, wrote about a weekly call with colleagues that helped them deal with the pandemic. Here’s an excerpt.
At The New York Times, foreign correspondents are a disparate group. We work in different countries, in different time zones, in wildly different cultures.
Only rarely do we know our colleagues in other regions, and when we do run into them, we often feel a bit shy talking to them — what would Bangkok and Warsaw have in common?
But the coronavirus changed that. It gave us common ground. In ways we never could have anticipated, Covid-19 turned out to be a leveler — of differences between editors and reporters, Sinophiles and Europeanists, newer reporters and “old hands.”
What brought us closer together was a weekly group video meeting that began as a result of a voluntary group session with a psychiatrist. The idea was to help those far from home feel less anxious as the pandemic spread to more and more of the countries where we lived and worked.
We discuss the mundane, such as ordering food or which Netflix or Amazon Prime series we are watching, but we also discuss the professional: the pros and cons of working with sources through video; long-distance transportation options (for those of us who can travel); where to stay (hotel or Airbnb?).
And, because all of us are living the story that we are reporting, sometimes we talk about the deeply personal, like writing frustrations and strategies for avoiding depression during a lockdown (one suggestion: have a call every day with a colleague).
Ernesto Londoño, the Rio de Janeiro bureau chief, offered advice on meditation. Chris Buckley, a China correspondent who had been through a draconian three-month lockdown in Wuhan, gave recommendations on structuring our days and pacing ourselves when time seemed to fall into a black hole.
Why do we keep showing up for this meeting? Because it has become our town square, our group kitchen table, a place where we see people with whom we share a way of life and can talk about all that we’ve lost without being judged.
That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.
To Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the break from the news. You can reach the team at [email protected].
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is on the fraught weeks that led to the opening game of the 2020 baseball season.
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• The media support network Study Hall published a profile of our Styles editor, Choire Sicha, and his unusual route to The Times.