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From 102 Days Without Local Transmission to 1321 Confirmed COVID-19 Cases In NZ

The Deciport Daily Quick-Look: 22 August 2020

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Current restrictions to be reviewed Monday.

Security (Health) // BLUF: After 102 days without community transmission of COVID-19, New Zealand now has 1321 confirmed cases as of today.

Internationally lauded for its strict 6-week lockdown of the entire country, where Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern touted a 'go hard, go early' approach, the new outbreak is a devastating blow to the country of nearly 5 million people.

With the city of Auckland in 'Level 3' lockdown (Level 4 being the highest) and the rest of the country at 'Level 2' (see level descriptions here: https://bit.ly/2YquGiS), a decision will be made on Monday regarding restrictions.

The outbreak has attracted attention from all corners of the globe, with questions being raised regarding the effectiveness of the hard lockdown versus the 'herd immunity' approach, such as that of Sweden (see Point 3 below), along with US President Donald Trump questioning the outbreak; much to the ire of New Zealanders.

(See Point 5 Below for Further Information)

The Daily Quick-Look for 22 August 2020

The Deciport Daily Quick-Look is your at-a-glance look at several key events and situations around the world over the last 24 hours. Each headline contains the link to its source report.

BLUF = Bottom Line Up Front.

FYSA = For Your Situational Awareness.

1. UNITED STATES, MEXICO - Security (Health): U.S. closes lanes, adds checks at Mexico border to contain coronavirus

FYSA: The United States on Friday closed lanes at select ports of entry at the border with Mexico and will conduct more secondary checks to limit non-essential travel and the spread of coronavirus, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) official said. Non-essential travel has been restricted at the border since March, but U.S. citizens and permanent residents can still enter the United States from Mexico. The new measures are aimed at those travelers, the CBP official said. U.S. President Donald Trump, who faces re-election Nov. 3, has taken a series of sweeping steps to scale back immigration during the coronavirus pandemic, including emergency border rules that allow U.S authorities to rapidly deport migrants arrested at the border. The United States leads the world with more than 174,000 confirmed deaths from the coronavirus, followed by Brazil with 112,000 and Mexico with 59,000, according to a Reuters tally. (Reuters. See link in heading for further reading)

2. MALI - Security, Political: Coup Plotters in Mali Were Trained by U.S. Military

FYSA: The United States has halted all security assistance training and support for Malian military forces that carried out a coup in the West African country after new details emerged that the coup was orchestrated in part by military officers who received training from the U.S. military. Col. Assimi Goita, a Malian military officer who declared himself provisional leader of the country, participated in U.S.-led military exercises and training aimed to counter extremist groups operating in the Sahel region. “It’s clear that several participants in the mutiny … have received U.S. training or assistance,” said J. Peter Pham, the State Department’s special envoy for the Sahel region of West Africa, on Friday. He stressed that the United States condemned the actions by the military officials to topple the government. “Until our review of both the situation on the ground and of individuals is complete, let me say categorically there is no further training or support of the Malian Armed Forces, full stop. We have halted everything until such time as we can clarify the situation.” The coup, staged this past week, could present a significant setback in U.S. and multinational efforts to roll back the militant groups, some of which are affiliated with the Islamic State and al Qaeda. It underscores the deep-seated governance problems in the Sahel that helped lead to the rise of extremist groups. (Foreign Policy. See link in heading for further reading)

3. SWEDEN - Security (Health), Political: Swedish PM defends COVID strategy from criticism over death toll

FYSA: Sweden has chosen the right strategy in fighting the spread of the new coronavirus, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said on Friday, defending his government’s decision not to adopt a strict lockdown as many European countries have done. More than 5,800 Swedes have died of COVID 19, a much higher death rate than in neighbouring Norway, Denmark and Finland which adopted much tougher measures than Sweden, leading many to question the government’s approach. But Lofven said Sweden had made the correct choice. “The strategy that we adopted, I believe is right - to protect individuals, limit the spread of the infection, etc,” he said in an interview in daily Dagens Nyheter. “What has been discussed most, and what we did differently in Sweden, was that we did not close schools. Now there are quite a few people who think we were right.” While many countries enforced strict lockdowns, Sweden has relied mainly on voluntary measures focused on social distancing, though public gatherings have been limited and care homes - which saw a heavy death toll - quarantined. While Sweden has seen more fatalities than its neighbours, it has not been as badly hit as countries like Britain and Spain, which adopted much stricter lockdown measures. (Reuters. See link in heading for further reading)

4. BELARUS - Political, Security: Belarusians 'will never accept' Lukashenko's leadership, says opposition's Svetlana Tsikhanouskaya

FYSA: Belarusians "will never accept" President Alexander Lukashenko's leadership, exiled opposition politician Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya said on Friday during a press conference in Lithuania on Friday. "It should be clear to the president that there is a need for change. I hope that good sense prevails and the people will be heard and there will be new elections," said Tsikhanouskaya. Tsikhanouskaya said she planned to return to Belarus "when I feel safe there." The opposition leader fled to the neighboring country on August 11. Earlier, Tsikhanouskaya had called on workers to increase their strikes at factories across the country to try to force new presidential elections. "I ask you – continue and expand strikes," she said in a video posted on Youtube. "Don't be fooled by intimidation." Workers are striking as part of nationwide anti-government protests against long-time leader President Alexander Lukashenko. The protests broke out after controversial presidential elections saw Lukashenko win his sixth term in office with 80% of the vote. His opponents say the vote was rigged and illegitimate. He is the only person to have held the position since the post was formed in 1994 after the break-up of the Soviet Union. Workers and protesters want Lukashenko to resign and for new elections to be held. They also want an end to the brutal police violence against protesters. (DW. See link in heading for further reading)

5. NEW ZEALAND - Security (Health): Six new cases in the community in New Zealand today

FYSA: There are six new cases of Covid-19 in the community, the Health Ministry has revealed. There are nine people with Covid-19 in hospital, including three in intensive care. There are two cases in Auckland City Hospital, four people in Middlemore - which includes the three in ICU - two people in North Shore Hospital and one person in Waikato Hospital. There was no media conference today. In a statement, the Health Ministry said all those in hospital were isolated and managed separately from other patients. "The public can be confident that our DHBs are managing this effectively, as they did in the first outbreak of Covid-19 in New Zealand. "We have heard reports of people who are reluctant to get an ambulance or go to hospital - hospitals continue to be safe places to receive medical care, and people should feel confident going to hospital to receive treatment." >> The total number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand is now 1321. There are a total of 111 active cases in this country, including 16 imported cases from managed isolation facilities. (RNZ. See link in heading for further reading)

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