We’re covering the anguish of refugees from Myanmar and record-breaking Covid cases in the U.S. and Europe.
No good choice for Myanmar’s refugees
Across Myanmar, hundreds of thousands of people have fled their homes, trying to escape violence since the military seized power in a coup on Feb. 1.
Many are living in tents in the jungles of Myanmar. Some have left their homeland entirely, pouring into neighboring countries.
For those who stay, it is a fight to survive. The junta has created a humanitarian crisis in Myanmar that is worsening by the day. Rights groups say soldiers are blocking aid convoys. Children are malnourished. And the military is deploying more troops to crush resistance.
For those who leave, it is a life in limbo. Many are struggling to adapt to a place they don’t quite know, a government that doesn’t quite welcome them, and a future with no certainty. India is cracking down to prevent the region bordering Myanmar from accepting many refugees.
Worsening violence: More than 1,300 people have been killed by the junta, according to a rights group. The military was accused over the weekend of massacring at least 35 villagers, including women and children, in Kayah State.
Left hopeless: “Now we are alive, but it’s no different from being dead,” said Hei Mang, a 70-year-old whose family has been forced to ask neighbors in Myanmar for food.
Europe and the U.S. break Covid records
Across Europe and the U.S., records for new coronavirus infections are being set day after day, as the Omicron variant tears through populations with a swiftness outpacing anything witnessed over the past two years.
The seven-day average of U.S. cases topped 267,000 on Tuesday, a record high. Britain, Denmark, France, Greece, Italy and Spain all set records for new daily case counts this week as well. For many countries, the wave is only starting to rise.
For the vaccinated, Omicron may be milder than previous variants, but the wave of new infections is causing chaos for hospitals, testing centers and businesses. Tests are increasingly hard to find, even in places like Britain where they were once in reliable supply.
The World Health Organization warned that the circulation of the Delta variant and the rapid spread of Omicron could create a “tsunami” of infections that would overwhelm health care systems.
Quotable: “Delta and Omicron are now twin threats driving up cases to record numbers, leading to spikes in hospitalization and deaths,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the W.H.O.’s director general.
Details: In France, which set a record of 208,000 new cases on Wednesday, the most in any European country since the pandemic began, the health minister said the increase was “dizzying.” In the Washington, D.C., region, cases are skyrocketing.
In other developments:
Another Hong Kong news outlet closes
Stand News, an outspoken pro-democracy news website in Hong Kong, announced that it would shut down after the police arrested seven people connected with it. All employees of the site were dismissed.
The police raided the site’s headquarters on Wednesday, in yet another government crackdown on the city’s once-vibrant independent press. The seven people were arrested on suspicion of conspiring to publish seditious material.
After Apple Daily folded in June, Stand News — which was founded as a nonprofit in 2014 after an earlier round of mass pro-democracy protests that year — became one of the city’s last openly pro-democracy outlets. Stand News reporters documented the 2019 Hong Kong protests, including a mob attack on protesters.
Quotable: “Stand News’s editorial policy was to be independent and committed to safeguarding Hong Kong’s core values of democracy, human rights, freedom, the rule of law and justice,” the announcement said. “Thank you, readers, for your continued support.”
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