As the continent comes to grip with the covid-19 pandemic, some countries have began lifting internal border crossings. The European Commission has drafted a proposal highlighting that the bloc is expecting their first international visitors as of July 1, albeit with restrictions for countries that have been highly affected by the pandemic. The Commission has requested member states to review a list of countries that could be blocked from entering due to their infection rates. European Union countries are prepared to block Americans from entering because the United States has failed to control the scourge. That prospect, which would lump American visitors in with Russians and Brazilians as unwelcome, in a stinging blow to America’s prestige in the world and an encapsulation of President Trump’s handling of the virus in the United States, which has more than 2.3 million cases and upward of 120,000 deaths, more than any other country. In France, Borders reopened on June 15 to tourists from Britain, the E.U. and Schengen countries. Visitors from farther abroad won’t be able to enter until the E.U. issues directives with dates for the reopening of external borders. As for The Netherlands, borders are open to tourists from E.U. and Schengen countries except for the U.K. and Sweden if they follow social distancing and wear masks when using public transportation. Currently, travelers from high-risk countries must submit to 14 days of quarantine, according to the Dutch government website.
United states: In a country that is struggling to quell social unrest amongst a plethora of other events, The US public health chief told Congress on Tuesday June 23 that coronavirus has “brought this nation to its knees” as America struggles with the highest number of confirmed cases and deaths. The Guardian notes that Dr Robert Redfield, director of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told a hearing in Washington that core public health capabilities in the US had been vastly underfunded for a long time and needed urgent investment. Brazil: A judge in Brazil has ordered President Jair Bolsonaro to wear a protective mask when he is in public spaces. The ultra-right president has been criticized for his handling of the virus with his primary response being acknowledhed as a ‘belittling’ approach. Bolsonaro dismissed it as "a little cold" at the start of the pandemic and now the country suffers with the second-highest number of coronavirus cases and Covid-related fatalities in the world. Chile: On Sunday, Chile overtook Italy as the country with the eighth-most cases in the world. The sharp rise is attributed to the countries attempt to reopen. Officials have also been criticized as the catalyst to the rise citing missteps like failing to effectively keep up with contact tracing and isolating the sick.
China: China National Biotec Group (CNBG) has won approval to run a large-scale “Phase 3” clinical trial of its novel coronavirus vaccine candidate in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). China has sought to trial potential vaccines overseas due the lack of new patients at home. There are currently multiple experimental vaccines are being trialed around the world however all are yet to successfully completed a late-stage “Phase 3” test to determine efficacy in shielding healthy people from the virus. Japan: Japan has been considering a travel bubble which would open the country to travelers from places with similar coronavirus safety measures. So far, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and Vietnam are on Japan’s list of possible travel bubble buddies. On June 18, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe deliberated the travel bubble with the government’s coronavirus task force. The bubble would apply to business travelers first, then students, and eventually tourists. South Korea: Whilst most countries are battling methods on how to reopen their economies, South Korea is fighting a battle of their own with the North. In recent days, South Korea has seen a surge in provocations with their northern neighbor with the DPRK dictator, Kim Jong Un, blowing up their inter-Korean liaison office. The ROK has seen continuous military threats and ‘retaliation’ for anti-DPRK sentiment propagated from defectors living in the south. However, North Korean analysts argue the DPRK is employing such tactics to garner US attention to ease the imposed sanctions.
Lebanon: Lebanon’s Middle East Airlines is implementing travel safety regulations when flights resume on July 1. In a bid to reignite international tourism for the country, the national carrier has promised co-funding of Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests. Tourists must perform a series of tests, with the Lebanese health ministry stating that the third test must be done at the expense of the passenger. Israel: Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said his government was weighing up its options amid a significant rise in Covid-19 cases. The country has more than 20,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, with new infections jumping by more than 300 in recent days. Iran: Amongst a raft of geopolitical events and grappling COVID-19 cases engulfing the country, the state's President has changed stance on the nuclear embargo with the US. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the country is open for diplomatic dialogue on the 2015 nuclear deal which the United States exited, should the US apologize and compensate The Islamic Republic.
South Africa: South Africa is to start the continent's first coronavirus vaccine pilot. The African country has the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 infections and the pilot scheme would involve 2,000 people. Al Jazeera notes that The University of Witwatersrand (Wits) is collaborating with the University of Oxford and the Oxford Jenner Institute in the trial of the vaccine known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19. The pilot will involve 2,000 people, including 50 who have HIV. Morocco: Morocco will further loosen lockdown measures for the services sector and domestic transport. International passenger traffic remains suspended. In a mostly Muslim country, Mosques have been closed since the lockdown started in March and the state of emergency has been extended to July 10. Niger: In a country already wrestling with the worlds’ worst Human Development Index (HDI), reports of abuses of power have surfaced. Amnesty International argues that authorities in Niger should drop trumped-up charges and immediately release three human rights defenders who have been languishing in jail for 100 days after demanding an investigation into the alleged misuse of funds by the Ministry of Defense. The director of Amnesty International contends that “For nearly two years, journalists and human rights activists in Niger have been the target of repeated arbitrary arrests as a result of the authorities’ increasing clampdown on dissenting voices.”
Australia: Victoria, the state home to Australia’s second largest city, Melbourne, has requested logistical support from the Australian Defense Force as it has seen a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases throughout the week that left health officials "worried". The Victorian Government has requested 300 ADF personnel, mainly medicos, for logistical support like helping with hotel quarantine and working in hotspot areas. New Zealand: It was a triumphant story concoct on national unity and unfathomable political leadership combining to extinguish a virus that still taunts most nations on the planet. However, just a week after New Zealanders celebrated having rid the country of Covid-19 and the government lifted all restrictions on daily life except controls on entering the country, the one chink in their armor was their borders which laid bare. The Ardern government decries a failure to test returning travelers before they left quarantine, and in turn, threatening a political fallout for the government which was once heralded worldwide for having flattened the Covid-19 curve.