Coronavirus Politics Daily: Jordan's COVID-19 response, New Zealand's long weekend plans, Philippines' illegal hospital

Jordan's COVID-19 successes – and failures: Jordan, which imposed one of the strictest lockdowns in the world, has fared relatively well compared to neighboring countries. To date, the country of over 10 million has recorded just nine deaths, a per capita death rate of just 0.88 per million people, compared with 32 per million in Israel and 9 in Saudi Arabia. The Jordanian government's Epidemic Committee, which is overseeing the pandemic response, has been widely praised for listening to medical professionals and delivering clear and consistent messaging to Jordanians on how to curb the disease's spread. But while the low caseload and death rate have paved the way for some businesses to reopen already, the economic impact has been severe, and critics say Prime Minister Omar al-Razzaz's government hasn't done enough to help jobless Jordanians and small business owners weather the economic downturn. The Kingdom, already mired in economic crisis before the outbreak, says it just doesn't have cash on hand to offer unemployment benefits. As Jordan slowly moves from the public health phase of the crisis to the economic one, the government's challenges are only beginning. The month of Ramadan is usually the busiest shopping season, and a boon for small business owners who account for some 75 percent of Jordan's total GDP. But this year, sales in the money-making apparel sector dropped 70 percent compared to the same period last year. Jordan's economy is expected to contract around 3 percent this year because of the pandemic.


New Zealand's long weekend plans: The pandemic is upending long-established rhythms of life, work, and commerce around the world, but now New Zealand is taking aim at one of the cornerstones of modern life: the five-day workweek. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, lauded for her government's effective handling of the COVID crisis, has suggested moving to a four-day week in order to give a boost to an economy that is set to shrink by 8 percent this year. The idea is that the extra day off will encourage consumption, domestic tourism, and general well-being as society works through the shock of the pandemic and its aftermath. Ardern isn't the only world leader to float the idea — Finland's Prime Minister floated it back in January, before the pandemic hit, and a smattering of employers around the world have slowly been experimenting with shorter work weeks in recent years. Whether New Zealand's businesses take up the idea broadly remains to be seen, but we'd like to point out that even the five-day work week that we take for granted is itself a relatively recent, and largely arbitrary, invention, as this fascinating piece reveals.

Philippines busts a secret hospital: Philippine police this week raided a luxury villa in the city of Angeles that was operating as a clandestine pharmacy and hospital for illegal immigrants suffering from COVID-19. The facility, which has been providing coronavirus testing and treatment for several months, was treating Chinese nationals, most of whom are thought to be working illegally in the Philippines' lucrative online gambling scene, an industry which is outlawed in China. Anecdotal evidence suggests that Chinese nationals living without papers in the Philippines are avoiding hospitals even if they are gravely ill for fear of being arrested and deported. This is a problem with universal resonance. Research shows that in many parts of the world, migrants, who already face heightened risk of falling seriously ill from COVID-19, are afraid to seek testing or medical care because they fear expulsion.

The goal of Eni's High Performance Computing is to perfect and industrialize low carbon energy technologies developed in collaboration with research centers. Eni's efforts are helping to generate energy from waves and guarantee access to energy in remote areas thanks to light-weight and flexible organic photovoltaic panels


Watch Eni's new docuseries on HPC5

Facing the biggest economic crisis in the EU's history, the European Commission's president, Ursula von der Leyen, pulled out all the stops this week, unveiling an unprecedented plan to boost the union's post-coronavirus recovery.

The plan: The EU would go to international capital markets to raise 750 billion euros ($830 billion). 500 billion of that would be given to member states as grants to fund economic recovery over the next seven years; the remainder would be issued as loans to be paid back to Brussels. The EU would pay back its bondholders for the full 750 billion plus interest by 2058, in part by raising new EU-wide taxes on tech companies and emissions.

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"A lot of people are going to die until we solve the political situation," one Brazilian medical expert said recently when asked about the deteriorating public health situation in that country. For months, Brazil has been one of the countries hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, steered by a President who has repeatedly dismissed the severity of the virus and rejected calls to implement a national social distancing policy. To date, two Brazilian health ministers have either resigned or been fired for pushing back against President Jair Bolsonaro's denialism. Meanwhile, Brazil has emerged as a global epicenter of COVID-19, with almost 27,000 deaths, though health experts believe the real toll is way higher. Here's a look at Brazil's surging daily death toll since it first recorded more than 10 deaths in one day back in March.

Watch GZERO World as host Ian Bremmer talks to acclaimed foreign policy expert Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations and author of "The World: A Brief Introduction." Haass explains that while the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every aspect of life as we know it, the major issues confronting geopolitics in the 21st Century already existed.

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62: Southeast Asia is one of the world's largest sources of plastic waste, and Thailand is a big culprit. Before the pandemic, Thailand tried to address the problem by banning single use plastics, but that's fallen apart fast: in April, Thailand recorded a 62 percent increase in plastic use, due largely to increased food deliveries as coronavirus-related lockdowns keep people at home.
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