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Coronavirus

A woman in a protective suit walks past a shop as COVID outbreaks continue in Shanghai, China.

REUTERS/Aly Song

Counting China’s COVID deaths

In recent weeks, China has announced an abrupt about-face on its zero-COVID policy, which imposed tough (and economically costly) restrictions on freedom of movement inside China for the past three years. Despite predictions that a sudden end to existing COVID rules could contribute to one million deaths, the state has lifted lockdowns, ended many testing and quarantine requirements, and halted contact-tracing systems. For a government that works hard to persuade its people that it protected them from the COVID carnage in Western democracies, it’s a big risk. How to keep the number of COVID deaths down? Just redefine what counts as a COVID death. Going forward, only those with COVID who die of pneumonia or respiratory failure will be counted as COVID fatalities. (The US counts any death to which the virus contributed as a COVID death.) China’s change will make it much harder for Chinese health officials to properly allocate resources to respond to COVID spikes, and more infections will create mutations that generate new variants that cross borders. Officials in many countries, including the US, have argued over how to define a COVID death, but the question is especially sensitive in an under-vaccinated country of 1.4 billion people.

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Ari Winkleman

It’s been almost three years since the COVID pandemic swung a wrecking ball through our societies, our economies, and our workplaces. But even now, with the most acute phase of the crisis behind us, many aspects of life still aren’t back to what they were in the B.C. (Before Coronavirus) era. One great example is the hours worked in our economies. When the pandemic struck, lockdowns and other restrictions caused the number of hours worked on a quarterly basis around the world to plunge by nearly 20% compared to the final quarter of 2019, the baseline for “last moments of pre-pandemic normalcy.” But since then, the world as a whole still hasn’t gotten back to pre-pandemic levels of hours worked — we’re still almost 1.5% below them. Lower-income countries are struggling more than rich ones to get back to where they were, and there is only one region of the world that shows more hours worked now than before the pandemic — can you guess which one it is?

Labourers rest as they offload bags of grains as part of relief food that was sent from Ukraine at the World Food Program (WFP) warehouse in Adama town, Ethiopia.

Reuters

123 million: At least 123 million people across Sub-Saharan Africa are food insecure, according to a new report by the International Monetary Fund. The region was on the brink of economic recovery, but that’s changed since the war in Ukraine upended the global economy. IMF senior economist Andrew Tiffin recently spoke to GZERO about Africa’s hunger and energy crises. Watch the interview here.

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This undated file photo shows a researcher wearing cleanroom suit displaying a wafer in the lab of Shanghai Microsemi Semiconductor

Reuters

8.6 billion: China’s leading microchip manufacturers lost 8.6 billion in share value on Monday after the US imposed new restrictions on the export of semiconductor-related technologies to China. Remember, 21st-century great power competition is increasingly looking like a bowl of chips.

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Jess Frampton

35: A new poll has the approval rating of Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at only 35%, the lowest since he took office a year ago. Kishida's popularity has nosedived since the assassination of former PM Shinzo Abe put a spotlight on the ruling party's ties with the controversial Unification Church.

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Pandemic Put Skills Top of Mind in a Job-Seeker’s Market — LinkedIn Exec | Global Stage| GZERO Media

COVID had few silver linings. But perhaps one of them is that it upended the labor market in ways that, for once, favored workers over employers.

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Migrants leave their countries of origin not only to find work opportunities — the hard-earned money they send back helps keep the lights on back home. After a COVID-related blip in 2020 – which saw a small decline but defied disastrous predictions – global remittances sent by migrants to relatives in their countries of origin are again on the upswing. That’s a big deal for the migrants’ families and for governments of nations who rely on that revenue to keep the economy from collapsing. We take a look at the countries that send and receive the most migrant cash, those that most depend on remittances, and how inflows have performed recently.

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