Summer’s deadly risks

Balance of Power
Bloomberg

Rising concern over fresh coronavirus outbreaks in Europe and Asia have underscored a major challenge to fighting the illness: boredom.

Scenes of young adults gathering on Europe's beaches and at bars and nightclubs indicate they're running out of patience with masks and social distancing. They're less fearful of getting ill and have the most to lose economically and socially when they remain at home.

This comes at a time when officials across the global are battling second waves, from China to Spain. The U.K.'s decision to impose a two-week quarantine on visitors from Spain, its top tourist destination, has angered the authorities in Madrid.

China, where the virus was first identified, reported the most domestic cases, while Hong Kong is banning all dine-in services at restaurants along with public gatherings of more than two people not from the same family.

The increasing trend of the virus to strike the young has been evident for weeks in the U.S., the country with the most infections globally. Even President Donald Trump, watching his poll numbers decline just 100 days before November's election, suddenly reversed his message last week, warning that the pandemic will probably get worse.

But in the post-lockdown era, the message to behave responsibly to prevent the spread to older people appears to be losing its resonance. There have even been reports of people in the U.S. holding Covid-19 parties to deliberately get infected.

With an effective vaccine still months away at least, governments have few alternatives to reinforcing pleas to stay at home and wear masks. The recent resurgences are showing that may not be enough.

Karl Maier 

Beachgoers in Barcelona on June 28. 

Photographer: Angel Garcia/Bloomberg

Elsewhere, India's coronavirus epidemic is now the fastest-growing in the world, increasing 20% over the past week to more than 1.43 million confirmed cases. It still lags in total numbers behind Brazil and the U.S.

Tell us how we're doing or what we're missing at balancepower@bloomberg.net.

Global Headlines

Race relations | Trump's campaign is hitting Joe Biden on crime from two sides. It's targeting White voters with TV ads calling him part of a "radical left-wing mob" that would defund the police, while telling Black voters his Democratic rival's crime bill put too many African-Americans in prison.

  • A fresh wave of opinion polls shows voters leaning toward Biden in Michigan, Florida and Arizona, key states Trump won in 2016.

Flag down | Chinese authorities have taken over the U.S. consulate in Chengdu following its closure, the latest historic milestone marking the deterioration in relations between Washington and Beijing. U.S. diplomats earlier today lowered the flag over the American consulate in the southwest Chinese city, less than three days after the U.S. government ordered their Chinese counterparts out of their mission in Houston.

A Chinese edition of Trump's book "The Art Of The Deal" on sale on a street near the U.S. Consulate General in Chengdu on July 26.

Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

New questionnaire | Hong Kong's move to query opposition candidates about ties with foreign governments ahead of a key legislative election has increased activists' concerns that officials could be preparing to use a sweeping national security law to disqualify pro-democracy figures. They fear the government will question, undermine or disqualify candidates who've criticized the local administration and Beijing.

Dangerous crossing | A defector suspected of evading South Korean border guards by going through a drainage ditch and swimming back to North Korea has escalated tensions on the peninsula and led Pyongyang to lock down a city on virus fears. The crossing comes as North Korea has excoriated South Korean President Moon Jae-in over defector-led activist groups in South Korea sending anti-Kim Jong Un leaflets by balloon north across the border.

Political future | When the coronavirus first erupted, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, echoing Trump, said the disease would "die a natural death." Now, as Andreo Calonzo explains, his political future is at stake with the pandemic raging and the economy facing its worst slump in three decades.

What to Watch This Week

  • U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is expected today to release a $1 trillion pandemic relief proposal, kicking off talks with Democrats on provisions including money for people who've lost their jobs and protections for employers reopening their businesses.

  • House Democrats will get a much-anticipated chance to grill William Barr at a hearing tomorrow that likely will delve into the attorney general's role in some of the most consequential decisions of the Trump administration and his loyalty to the president.

  • German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz and Economy Minister Peter Altmaier will testify Wednesday in a special session of the Bundestag's finance committee as pressure grows over the collapse of Wirecard AG.

  • The U.K. has proposed strict new limits on junk-food advertising as ministers seek to control the country's growing obesity problem, which has been identified as a factor in coronavirus deaths.

  • Tanzanian opposition leader Tundu Lissu is set to return home from Europe to take part in presidential elections in October, three years after surviving an assassination attempt.

Thanks to all who responded to our pop quiz Friday and congratulations to Pavandip Singh, who correctly named Indonesia as the country where corpse stealing by family members is hampering efforts to slow the spread of Covid-19.

And finally ... When the virus struck nightclubs in Seoul, health officials dispatched crack teams of epidemiologists, database specialists and laboratory technicians to track down the infected. Heesu Lee reports on how the work of so-called Immediate Response Teams offers a look at how South Korea — once the second-worst hit by the coronavirus — has helped quell its spread without the lockdowns that have upended lives worldwide.

Workers spray disinfectant following a flare-up in the Itaewon neighborhood in Seoul on May 11.

Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

 

 

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