(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus:
Coronavirus and “green” shock
Will it be back to business as normal – or a new normal? On the 50th anniversary of Earth Day celebrating the environment, some politicians, investors and companies are calling for post-pandemic recovery plans to be green.
“There’s a lot of pressure for those fiscal stimulus packages, when they come, to be low-carbon, climate-smart,” Peter Betts, a former lead climate negotiator for Britain and the European Union, told Reuters Television.
So far, the United States, China, Japan, India and European governments have focused on simply staunching the damage to industry, preserving jobs or trying to avoid corporate failures.
While some acknowledge that such schemes should be tied to respect for climate change goals, others see it differently – notably Donald Trump who has been tweeting his support for rescue packages for the U.S. oil sector.
Boost for plant-based protein
One behavioural change could already be taking place: Demand for plant-based protein foods is surging in Asia, suppliers say, as suspicion over possible links between wild animal meat and the new coronavirus drives some consumers to rethink diets.
Though still a tiny business compared to Asia’s giant meat supply chain, vegetarian alternatives to meat, dairy and seafood are gaining growing custom, particularly in Hong Kong and mainland China.
The British government is facing mounting questions over its handling of the coronavirus crisis – and on Wednesday it will face them in an unprecedented “hybrid” session of parliament held partly via the Zoom videoconferencing system.
To respect social distancing codes, a maximum of 50 lawmakers will be physically allowed into the usually rowdy debating chamber. Another 120 will be able to join in via Zoom beamed on to television screens dotted around the walls of the 18th century wood-panelled room.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s team have been sharply criticised for a lack of preparedness and public communications snafus which opponents say have contributed to one of the highest death tolls in Europe. Whether their track record can be properly scrutinised on Zoom remains to be seen.
Bugs, debris and dirt in Japan masks
Japan’s Health Ministry has received 1,903 complaints of soiled or defective masks, after shipping nearly 30 million by Friday to pregnant women, medical facilities and schools.
The complaints of mould, insects and stains in the protective cloth masks have tainted the scheme announced by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to supply each of the country’s 50 million households with two washable, reusable masks, further fuelling concern that the government has botched its handling of the pandemic.
The manufacturers of the masks are being asked to replace the defective ones, a ministry spokesman said.
Cancelled, cut, postponed
Among the things that won’t be happening as usual this year:
-Berlin’s Marathon, no longer set for September
-The annual tulip festival in the Japanese city of Sakura, after authorities razed more than 100,000 stems to comply with social-distancing rules
-And in golf, calls are growing for this year’s Ryder Cup to be postponed until 2021
(Compiled by Mark John and Karishma Singh)