The coronavirus is upending Saudi Arabia’s big dreams and easy living.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, had upended his country out of a recognition that the kingdom could not keep living off oil forever. He diversified the Saudi economy by building up tourism and entertainment.
Some of the changes were head-spinning: cars steered by women, warm welcomes for wrestling champions and international rappers, gender-mixed cafes.
Michael Stephens, a Middle East analyst at The Royal United Services Institute in London. said Saudi Arabia was facing “the hardest time it’s ever been through.”
The crown prince has given no indication of scratching any specific plans. Still, Saudis long accustomed to generous fuel and electricity subsidies, cushy government jobs and free education and health care could live less comfortably.
And while coming austerity measures may not make a major dent in the lives of the rich, they are likely to hit hard in the rest of the country.
“We’re really worried,” said Abdulrahman, a 52-year-old trader in car parts and construction materials in Riyadh who, like many Saudis, asked to be identified only by first name to speak openly about government policy. “The ultimate suffering is going to the end users. The middle and lower class will suffer a lot from this.”
Euphoric Greeks and French headed to reopened beaches, keeping their umbrellas apart. Players in Germany’s national soccer league competed in deserted stadiums. Italy offered its pulverized tourism industry a lifeline with plans to lift some travel restrictions.
On Saturday, many in Europe cautiously rejoiced after months of debilitating confinement as even countries hardest hit by the virus continued to gradually ease restrictions.
But relief that life was moving slowly toward some semblance of normalcy was tempered by continuing protests in Germany, where, for the fourth weekend in a row, small groups that added up to thousands took to the street across the country to protest against measures imposed by the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The protesters, who include conspiracy theorists and right-wing extremists but also ordinary people concerned about their jobs, remain a small but noisy minority, as seven in 10 Germans back Ms. Merkel’s handling of the pandemic.
The coronavirus, which has sickened more than 4.5 million people around the world and killed at least 307,3000, has plunged Europe into an economic downturn not seen since the end of World War II. It has also forced European leaders to find a delicate balance between opening up their countries without inviting new waves of infections.
Italy began easing its restrictions on May 4, and announced Saturday that it would lift travel restrictions beginning on June 3 to open the door to renewed tourism. If there are fresh outbreaks of the coronavirus, the government warned, restrictive measures could return. The country has clawed itself out of one of Europe worst outbreaks, and its latest daily death toll was 153, the lowest since it went under a strict lockdown on March 9.
On Monday, Italy’s shops, bars, restaurants, hairdressers and other businesses will reopen, with stringent social distancing and hygiene rules. Religious services will also be allowed to restart on Monday, and Mass can again be celebrated at St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican.
Also on Monday, residents of Budapest, Hungary’s throbbing capital, will able to enjoy outdoor terraces and shopping, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Saturday. Much of the rest of the country has had such freedom for nearly two weeks.
For working couples, Japan’s efforts to combat the coronavirus — encouraging teleworking and asking residents to stay inside — have highlighted disparities in the division of domestic work that are particularly pronounced in Japanese society.
Men in Japan do fewer hours of household chores and child care than in any other of the globe’s wealthiest nations. In a survey last year by Macromill, a market research firm, about half of Japanese working couples reported that men did 20 percent of the housework or less.
But now, men spending weekdays at home during Japan’s coronavirus state of emergency are able to witness just how many chores must be done. Women who toil invisibly doing laundry, dealing with finances and cooking meals are now asking their husbands to pitch in.
One woman, Aki Kataoka, made her point in a meticulous spreadsheet that detailed her 210 daily household tasks to her husband Susumu’s 21, he was astonished.
He shared the spreadsheet on Twitter — writing that the couple had been in danger of getting a “coronadivorce” — the post was shared about 21,000 times.
For some couples, the issue can be combustible: Arguments sometimes erupt over whose turn it is to sweep up or help with math lessons for newly homebound students. Living quarters are cramped, and feel even smaller with everyone stuck inside. And there are doubts that this dose of domesticity, which may be over in weeks, will open men’s eyes enough to reverse entrenched patterns.
Still, some men say they now feel closer to their families, and hope Japan’s often inflexible work culture will change sufficiently to allow them to spend more time at home even when the pandemic passes.
Thousands of children who beg in cities in northern Nigeria have been crammed into open trucks and driven across state borders back to their home villages despite a ban on interstate travel imposed in April, raising fears that the move could spread the coronavirus across Africa’s most populated country.
At least 2,000 of the children, who attended Quranic schools and were often sent out to beg in the streets, have been put into quarantine, according to local news reports. Many have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Last week, the governor of Kaduna State told a Nigerian television channel that 30,000 of the children, known as almajirai, had been repatriated to their home states from Kaduna alone.
“We didn’t take this decision because of Covid-19, but Covid-19 provided us with the opportunity because Covid-19 enables us to know where the almajiris are and to get them at one go,” said the governor, Nasir El-Rufai.
He added that northern governors had been determined to end the almajiri system for some time. Under the system, children as young as 5 can spend up to a decade in boardinghouses memorizing the Quran.
Millions of children are out of school in Nigeria, according to the United Nations children’s agency.
Just before the coronavirus arrived in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi faced serious challenges, perhaps the biggest of his tenure.
Since then, as the world has been walloped by the coronavirus pandemic, many of these problems in India, especially the economic ones, have gotten worse. But once again, India has rallied around Mr. Modi, with recent opinion polls showing his already high approval ratings touching 80, even 90, percent.
Analysts say that Mr. Modi’s success may be durable.
His nationwide lockdown, which he dropped on the country with four hours’ notice, has been largely obeyed. He never played down the virus threat or said India had capabilities it did not. And unlike in the United States, where partisan politics has gummed up the response, analysts say Mr. Modi has worked well with state-level officials across India.
It has not been a spotless performance. Mr. Modi’s government was caught off guard by an exodus of migrant workers from India’s cities, making desperate and sometimes fatal journeys hundreds of miles home. (On Saturday, more than 20 migrants were killed in a truck crash as they traveled home.)
Many economists believe that an $260 billion relief package that he announced this week will hardly be enough.
A sense of normalcy is beginning to return to the Netherlands: Schools have started reopening, people can have their hair cut — and single people are allowed to have sex again with people outside their homes.
Since countries locked down and advised people to keep a safe distance from one another, those who live alone or are single have largely relied on the internet for companionship and dating.
Acknowledging that human touch is important, the Dutch government this week decided to loosen its rules on sex in the pandemic, allowing a “sex buddy,” provided that the two parties are in strict agreement about trying to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
“Discuss together how to best do that,” the guidelines say. “Follow the rules around the new coronavirus.”
Initially, guidance from the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment instructed people to have sex only with their steady partners. The term “sex buddy” was removed from the website after drawing attention from the international news media.
Different places have taken varying approaches as the coronavirus has spread. In Denmark, sex has been allowed throughout the pandemic. And New York City issued guidance in March that advised avoiding sexual contact with people from other households.
“You are your safest sex partner,” the advice read.
U.S. roundup: Obama is giving two virtual commencement speeches today.
Former President Barack Obama is set to give separate virtual commencement speeches to graduating college and high school seniors on Saturday, his first public addresses to national audiences during the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr. Obama’s words are expected to draw much interest at a time when his successor in the Oval Office, President Trump, has received immense scrutiny for his handling of the coronavirus outbreak. Mr. Obama has generally avoided publicly criticizing Mr. Trump, but he called the current administration’s response to the pandemic “anemic and spotty” in a private call last week with thousands of supporters who had worked for him.
The first address will be aired during a ceremony for more than 27,000 graduates from 78 historically black colleges and universities. The two-hour event, “Show Me Your Walk H.B.C.U. Edition,” will be streamed on the social media platforms — Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and Facebook — of its corporate sponsor, JPMorgan Chase, beginning at 2 p.m. Eastern.
Here’s what else is happening in the U.S.:
According to Feeding America, which represents 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries across the country, roughly two out of five people visiting food banks in the organization’s network since the outbreak are seeking free food for the first time.
The country has by far the world’s largest known outbreak, with more than 1.4 million infections and more than 87,000 deaths. The number of new confirmed infections has steadily declined in recent days, but that progress is tenuous and uncertain. Only about 3 percent of the population has been tested. More than 20,000 new cases are identified most days. And almost every day this past week, more than 1,000 Americans died from the virus.
She lost her parents and brother during the 1959 Tibetan uprising and as a child crossed the Himalayas on foot and on horseback to safety. But Tendol Gyalzur returned to Tibet after more than three decades to start the region’s first private orphanages, which have taken in more than 300 children.
Mrs. Gyalzur died on May 3 in Chur, Switzerland. She was believed to be 69. The cause was Covid-19, according to her son, Songtsen Gyalzur.
With assistance from the Tibet Development Fund, a Chinese-controlled nonprofit, and using family savings, Mrs. Gyalzur opened Tibet’s first private orphanage in 1993 in Lhasa, the capital, accepting children from a variety of ethnic groups.
“It was a big concern of hers to show that children are children and people, people, no matter what ethnicity or religion,” said Tanja Polli, author of “One Life for the Children of Tibet: The Unbelievable Story of Tendol Gyalzur” (2019).
She started a second orphanage in 1997 in her husband’s hometown, Shangri-La (also known as Zhongdian), in China’s southwestern Yunnan Province. In 2002, she began supporting a school for the children of nomadic herders in western Sichuan Province.
A Chinese health official has suggested that some labs destroyed coronavirus samples in the early days of the outbreak, saying that such steps were required for biosafety reasons.
Health officials had quickly labeled the coronavirus as “highly pathogenic” after beginning to investigate it in December, said Mr. Liu, a member of China’s National Health Commission.
“Chinese laws have strict requirements for the storage, destruction and study of highly pathogenic samples,” he said. “For laboratories that do not meet the storage standards, the samples should be destroyed or transferred to a professional depository.”
Mr. Liu did not say how those labs would have acquired samples in the first place.
The virus is believed to have emerged in a wet market in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the outbreak was first detected. Two research labs in the city have been the focus of unproven theories about the outbreak’s origins, but both were high-level biosecurity sites. Mr. Liu did not specify details of any labs that may have destroyed samples.
Several world leaders have questioned China’s transparency and willingness to participate in international inquiries into the virus’s origins. U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have accused China of destroying lab samples when the virus emerged in order to try to conceal the outbreak.
Mr. Pompeo has also backed President Trump’s assertion that the coronavirus originated in a lab in Wuhan, though intelligence agencies say they have reached no conclusion on the issue.
Chinese officials have aggressively pushed back against the accusations.
With nearly half of Britain’s population experiencing “high” levels of anxiety during the pandemic, psychiatrists say that they have seen an increase in first-time emergency cases during the lockdown, and that a sudden drop in routine appointments makes them fear for a “tsunami of mental health after the pandemic.”
In a survey of over 1,300 mental health doctors across Britain, the Royal College of Psychiatrists wrote on Friday that nearly half had seen a drop-off in routine care. In particular, one psychiatrist wrote: “In old-age psychiatry, our patients appear to have evaporated. I think people are too fearful to seek help.”
As many nations have eased confinement rules but retain some forms of lockdown to stem the spread of the coronavirus, the World Health Organization’s director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has said that “mental health needs must be treated as a core element of our response to and recovery from” the pandemic.
Troubles include depression and various mental issues stemming from isolation and increased stress. The Center for Mental Health, a British independent charity, has forecast an increase in post-traumatic stress disorder. Britain has been one of the worst-hit European countries in the pandemic, with over 240,000 confirmed cases and more than 34,000 deaths as of Saturday.
“If the economic impact is similar to that of the post-2008 recession, then we could expect 500,000 additional people experiencing mental health problems,” the charity wrote.
The cruise ship has been disinfected and refurbished, which included replenishing mattresses, linens and room ornaments, according to its operator, Princess Cruises, a unit of Carnival Corporation. The ship is sailing for Malaysia.
At the time of the February quarantine, the Diamond Princess represented the largest concentration of coronavirus cases outside China, meriting its own category in data compiled by the World Health Organization. Fourteen people ultimately died from coronavirus contracted aboard the ship.
The United States and other countries evacuated their citizens from the ship during the quarantine, and Japan faced criticism for its handling of the outbreak.
This month, Princess announced that because of the pandemic it was extending a suspension of most of its cruises through the summer.
As hundreds of children in Europe and North America have fallen ill with an inflammatory condition that is thought to be linked to the coronavirus, the World Health Organization on Saturday issued a preliminary definition of the sickness and guidelines for collecting information about it.
It described the condition as a “multisystem inflammatory disorder in children and adolescents,” with some symptoms similar to those of Kawasaki disease and toxic shock syndrome.
Relatively few children have required hospitalization or intensive care with Covid-19. But in recent weeks reports of dozens of hospitalizations have left the authorities struggling to understand the full scope of the coronavirus.
Citing an urgent need for standardized data about the children’s cases, the W.H.O. said that symptoms linked to the inflammatory condition included more than three days of fever, rashes, hypotension and cardiac dysfunction, coupled with signs of the virus.
In a study published in The Lancet on Wednesday, doctors in Italy said that they had treated 10 children with hyper-inflammatory symptoms similar to the Kawasaki disease from February to April, a rate 30 higher than is common.
Amazon has reached an agreement with unions in France to reopen its warehouses there after a lengthy battle over safety measures to protect workers against the coronavirus, capping the most prominent labor showdown the retailer has faced in the pandemic.
The company said late Friday that it was finalizing an accord with French unions and employee representatives that would pave the way for its six fulfillment centers in the country to resume operations starting on Tuesday.
Amazon closed the warehouses in mid-April and put 10,000 employees on paid furlough after unions sued, accusing the online giant of not taking adequate steps to protect workers from the coronavirus and of trying to sidestep the unions as they sought improved conditions.
French unions called the decision a victory for workers and said the resumption of activity would be gradual and voluntary, with half of workers returning from Tuesday to May 25 and the rest by June 2.
The reopening “is a positive step forward for French customers, for our French employees and for the many French S.M.E.s who rely on Amazon to grow their business,” Amazon said in a statement.
Reporting was contributed by Andrea Kannapell, Dan Bilefsky, Susanna Timmons, Katrin Bennhold, Vivian Yee, Stephen Kurczy, Liz Alderman, Audra D. S. Burch and John Eligon, Hannah Beech, Julie Bosman, Chris Buckley, Ben Casselman, Jeffrey Gettleman, Amy Harmon, Miriam Jordan, Niki Kitsantonis, Ruth Maclean, Sapna Maheshwari, Claire Moses, Steven Lee Myers, Elian Peltier, Elisabetta Povoledo, Motoko Rich, Martin Selsoe Sorensen, Mitch Smith, Rory Smith, Amanda Taub, Vivian Wang and Sameer Yasir.