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This Week Around the World

May 17 Gujarat, India: Cyclone Tauktae, the most powerful storm to hit India’s west coast in two decades made landfall on Monday, according to The Guardian. Over 200,000 people were evacuated from low-lying areas in preparation for the impact of the cyclone on Sunday, which had already killed six people before making landfall in India. On May 19, the Indian navy issued a statement announcing they found 26 bodies after searching for a barge that sank in the storm, increasing the number of fatalities to at least 91. The storm comes as India grapples with a second wave of COVID-19 infections. “Our priority is to clear the roads, so there is no impact on oxygen movement,” said Gaurang Makwana, the top official of Bhavnagar district in Gujarat. According to Vijay Rupani, Gujarat’s chief minister, 160 state roads were destroyed in the storm and 40,000 trees were uprooted.


May 18 Paris, France: French President Emmanuel Macron hosted approx. two dozen African heads of state and heads of global financial institutions for a summit to discuss ways to help with post pandemic economic recovery, according to Al Jazeera. The summit ended with Macron calling for vaccine patents to be lifted in Africa in order to allow for the manufacturing of vaccines to occur on the continent. The summit however, did not take place without controversy as some believe it was just a ploy for France to show power and control over its former colonies and the larger continent. “It is just another useless gathering, a waste of time and resources which is more beneficial to France than Africa,” said Cameroonian human rights activist Bergeline Ndoumou. “They have been holding countless summits, but how have those summits benefited Africa? Do we have potable water? Good schools or medical facilities? How have [the summits] impacted governance in our various African countries? We still have bad leaders.”


May 20 Colombia: The South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) announced the 2021 Copa América football championship will no longer host games in Colombia due to recent unrest, according to Reuters. This comes after the decision to host the games in two co-host countries for the first time in the tournament’s 105-year history. Earlier this year, Colombia asked to postpone the tournament to November so spectators could be present in the stadiums, but CONMEBOL said it was impossible “due to conflict with the international calendar.” Protests throughout Colombia have been ongoing since they erupted in late April over tax reforms. According to AP News, a match last week between Colombia’s América de Cali and Brazil’s Atlético Mineiro was interrupted multiple times due to the use of tear gas to disperse protestors nearby. The two guest teams from Qatar and Australia decided in February they would not compete in the tournament due to the pandemic.


May 21 Bangkok, Thailand: Dogs trained to detect COVID-19 infections by scent were deployed in Thailand, according to Reuters. Three Labradors made their debut at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University following trials that announced a 95% success rate in the last month.  “The canines are very fast at screening,” said co-researcher Thitiwat Sirprasart. “At this pace, we are able to isolate those whom we suspect are infected from those who are virus-free.” Thailand is not the only place undergoing trials for canine COVID-19 tests. In Oahu, Hawaii, training is underway at the Queen’s Medical Center with four dogs to identify COVID-19-positive samples based on scent. “At the moment, we are screening people based on history and based on a temperature check,” said Whitney Limm, chief physician executive at Queen’s. “This offers an opportunity for noninvasive testing, adding a layer of security without doing something intrusive.”


May 22 Rotterdam, Netherlands: On the final day of the 65th annual Eurovision Song Contest, Italy’s Måneskin took home top marks scoring 524 points in the grand final, according to The Guardian. The rock band was followed by France’s Barbara Pravi and Switzerland’s Gjon’s Tears in second and third place respectively for the first song contest back after the 2020 event was cancelled due to COVID-19. “Canceling for another year was never a consideration,” said Martin Österdahl, executive supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest. “We said very soon, as soon as I started, that the Eurovision Song Contest would come back and we’ve held on to that promise.” Due to worries about the ongoing pandemic, the venue hosted an audience of only 3,500 people, all of which were required to present a negative COVID-19 test prior to the event. “It’s about bringing peace and bringing hope in a lot of homes of citizens in the world despite this very worst that we are passing,” said Ahmed Aboutaleb, mayor of Rotterdam.