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W.H.O., Cyclone Amphan, Huawei: Your Wednesday Briefing

2020-05-19 22:58:37

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Good morning.

We’re covering the wrap-up of the World Health Organization’s annual meeting, worries that Cyclone Amphan could increase coronavirus risk and signs of life and normalcy in Italy’s hair salons.

The resolution calls for an “impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation” of the international response to the outbreak. But it fell short of promising what the U.S. wanted, which was a thorough review of the Chinese origins of the virus and the W.H.O.’s actions in response.

The authorities have fewer shelters to work with, because many of them have been turned into quarantine centers for coronavirus patients. Humanitarian workers are worried that by packing people into shelters, coronavirus infections could spread.

As if coping with a cyclone during a pandemic weren’t enough, officials in Bangladesh are worried that the storm could bring rains and floods to refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, where about a million Rohingya refugees who have fled Myanmar live in wooden shacks.

Many people in Bangladesh, apparently, are not heeding the calls to evacuate and move into emergency shelters.

The storm: Indian meteorologists say Amphan is a Category 5 hurricane that could unleash 165-mile-an-hour winds and massive floods. Barreling up the Bay of Bengal, the cyclone is expected to make landfall near the border between India and Bangladesh.

Quotable: “Our lives have always been filled with fear,” said Arjun Mohanty, a teacher in the eastern Indian state of Odisha. “First it was coronavirus, now the storm wants to kill us.”

The actions: One of the world’s leading computer chip makers, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, or T.S.M.C., said last week that it would build a factory in Arizona — which U.S. officials say is a first step toward putting a vital supply chain in the U.S.

The next day, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced a rule change that could get in the way of business between Huawei, the Chinese tech giant, and T.S.M.C., as well as other global chip manufacturers.

What it means: The administration has been trying to isolate Huawei as it works to bring 5G networks to countries around the world. But challenging Chinese companies’ access to Taiwan’s high-tech supply chain also touches on another source of tension between Washington and Beijing: China’s claim over Taiwan.

Quotable: The administration seems intent on “hitting at targets that are both economically and politically sensitive for Beijing,” said Eswar Prasad, a professor at Cornell University.

Hong Kong was one of the first places outside mainland China to be hit by the coronavirus, and immediately the landscape of the city changed: Temperature checks, sanitizing and reminders to stay vigilant cropped up everywhere.

What we’re reading: This article in The Cut about how much wellness right now has to do with wealth. It’s a fascinating look at the increasing divide in what health means for different sectors of the population.

You’ve seen the pictures of iconic places now emptied out. Our Travel desk asked locals in some of the world’s most-visited cities about the bittersweet experience of having their cities back. Below are excerpts from two of their stories.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

DARKO PEROJEVIC, 41, is the chef and owner of the restaurant Azur. He has lived in Dubrovnik most of his life.

The Old Town of Dubrovnik, where I’ve lived most of my life, hasn’t been empty like this since the war and the eight-month shelling of Dubrovnik in 1991 and ’92. We all have had some lingering sadness because the emptiness of the city is a reminder of that time.

The situation here is bittersweet, really. Bitter because I’m the chef and owner of a restaurant in Old Town — called Azur — that relies on a lot of tourists for business. But it’s sweet because walking the empty streets on a sunny day feels great.

Kids are playing on the streets just like I did when I was a kid. For a moment it feels like we got the city back for ourselves.

Halong Bay, Vietnam

LIND NGUYEN, 29, along with her husband, Trung, own the Wander Station restaurant.

On May 1, it was the (Labor Day) holiday and it’s supposed to be busy everywhere, but then we are empty, we have no customers, so I decided to close and have a look around. Everywhere was empty, the road, the stores, the walking street, everything. Like a scary movie.

In normal life there’s supposed to be hundreds of boats cruising in the bay, music playing — pum, pum, pum — and people having beer outside and walking around. But now no more.

I’m sad and worried. How long does it take to get back to the normal life? I just want tourists back here, meeting up, chatting and having fun.

That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.

— Melina and Carole

Thank you
To Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the break from the news. You can reach the team at
[email protected].

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