The World This Week: March 7, 2020

Asia Pacific

South Korea declared another so-called ‘special care zone’ in the city of Gyeongsan on Thursday, which has reported a spike in COVID-19 cases. The announcement follows the creation of similar zones in neighboring Daegu (the country’s fourth-largest city) and Cheongdo County, the former of which accounts for 75% of all cases in South Korea. Officials report 37 deaths and have banned the export of face masks.

Japan remains committed to hosting the 2020 Summer Olympics on time, but Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is implementing measures to combat the spread of COVID-19. Starting on March 7, the Japanese government will not allow entry to individuals who have traveled to high infection areas in South Korea or Iran; on March 9, individuals arriving from China and South Korea will be placed in a mandatory two-week quarantine.

On Wednesday, India finally lifted some, but not all, restrictions that the government had placed on internet access in Kashmir in August. Authorities reported that speed restrictions would remain for a couple more weeks, but access to social media and most other websites have been restored–at least on CNS Infotech, one of Srinagar, Kashmir’s private internet providers.


Francois Compaoré, the brother Burkina Faso’s former president, Blaise Compaoré, will soon be extradited from France for his suspected involvement in the murder of a journalist in 1998. The journalist, Norbert Zongo, managed a newspaper in Ouagadougou that focused on exposing corruption within the government. He was investigating the murder of one of Compaoré’s drivers at the time of his murder. French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe granted permission for Compaoré’s extradition to Burkina Faso to face trial for the international arrest warrant. Compaoré was detained in France in 2017 and was barred from leaving the country while extradition request by Burkina Faso’s government was under examination by the Paris Court of Appeal. Compaoré’s lawyer has two months to file an appeal for the extradition.

The UN envoy for Libya, Ghassan Salame, unexpectedly resigned from his post after three years due to stress-induced health concerns. He admitted that he was unable to gain support from major powers or persuade them to leverage the end of the nation’s civil war. Libya was fell into chaos following the uprising in 2011 that overthrew Muammar Gaddafi’s 40-year rule. Salame had been mediating talks between Khalifa Haftar, the leader of so-called Libyan National Army forces in the country’s east, and the UN-recognized government of Fayez al-Sarraj. In April 2019, Haftar launched an attack on al-Sarraj’s administration in the capital, Tripoli.

The coronavirus is now spreading across Africa, mostly in the north and west. Egypt announced on Friday it has detected 12 new cases of the coronavirus among staff on a cruise ship on the Nile River. On Wednesday, Senegal announced the detection of four cases this week. Algeria now has 17 confirmed cases after nine more were detected on Wednesday. On Sunday, Algeria confirmed two new cases of coronavirus in addition to the one detected last week. Morocco, Tunisia, South Africa, and Nigeria have each detected one case in their country. The majority of these new patients had traveled from France, Italy, and the UK.

Latin America

Cases of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19 were declared in Costa Rica, Peru and Colombia this week following earlier declarations of cases in Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic. The case in Costa Rica was declared to be an American woman who was visiting the country as a tourist. The cases in Peru and Colombia are both known to have been tourists returning from vacation in Europe. They all entered the country before showing symptoms of infection.

This week Guyana held elections that have yet to have determined a winner. Tensions have been reported to be particularly high after the discovery of 8 billion barrels of oil. This discovery is projected to double the country’s GDP. This puts unprecedented power in the hands of the winner of these elections as they will determine where and how the tax revenue generated will be dispersed. The New York Times reports that the political divisions largely fall along ethnic lines, and that people are afraid that the benefits will not be distributed equally to the losing party.

This week a top court in Colombia declined to rule on an abortion case that many activists hoped would legalize the practice within the first 16 weeks of pregnancy. The practice will remain illegal with three exceptions. Argentina is expected to be the next Latin American country to introduce legislation that would legalize the practice. In general, Latin America is known to be one of the most restrictive regions in regard to reproductive rights, with 5 countries banning the practice under all circumstances.

This week the Honduran President, Juan Orlando Hernández was linked to a major drug trafficker in US custody. US prosecutors have alleged that the President had taken a $25,000 dollar bribe in 2013 from a major cocaine trafficker, Geovanny Fuentes Ramírez. The claim has been denied by the President’s office and is expected to complicate relations between the US and Honduras.

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