A trip to Rome’s Spanish Steps may be a while away, but landing in the city holds no fear: Leonardo Da Vinci International Airport has become the world’s first to earn “the Covid-19 5-Star Airport Rating" from Skytrax, an international airport industry ratings body. Skytrax is known for its annual rankings of the world’s best, and worst, airports, but with the pandemic, it has introduced a new category for hygiene. On 1 September, the airport added a 7,000sqft coronavirus testing centre and 40-person bio-safety team for social distancing and mask compliance. For more updates, here’s Mint Lite.
Bonds’ appeal wanes for investors
Bond investors in three of Asia’s biggest emerging mar-kets aren’t buying even as government borrowing rises. This is an ominous sign for policy makers trying to revive growth with fiscal stimulus, reports Bloomberg. In India, dwindling appetite for sovereign bonds drove yields to their biggest increase in more than two years last month. Indonesia’s latest bond auction drew the fewest bids since April. Rates in South Korea surged to the highest level in five months. Governments globally are selling sovereign bonds faster than central banks can buy them, but there is no assurance the spending will pull up economies. Meanwhile, forecasts remain grim: Asia’s developing economies will shrink for the first time since 1962, ADB said. If the pandemic rages too long, nations may have more debt than they’ve ever seen. Some analysts say Asian bonds will retain appeal as the region will lead global economic recovery.
25 weeks set world back 25 years
In about 25 weeks of the pandemic, the world’s progress in healthcare has been set back 25 years. Vaccines reached 80% of the world’s children and prevented 2 million deaths in 2019, but due to covid-19 vaccine coverage in 2020 is dropping to levels last seen in the 1990s, the 2020 Goalkeepers Report from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation says. Published annually for the last four years, the report tracks progress the world is making on the UN Sustainable Development Goals such as poverty reduction and gender equality. The pandemic pushed almost 37 million people below the extreme poverty line in 2020, with extreme poverty rising 7% in a few months, it says. Vaccines won’t end the crisis unless they are equitably alloca-ted: It says 61% of deaths could be averted if a vaccine is distributed to all countries proportional to population. If vaccines go to high income countries first, deaths will be cut by only 33%.
We wake up late to data breach
A rise in remote working in the past six months has made cybersecurity more significant to businesses than before. In India, cheaper smartphones and data means more of us are putting out personal information every time we watch a video or transact online. Every year, the cost and risk of cybersecurity breaches rises. IBM’s 2020 Cost of a Data Breach Report says 80% of these incidents exposed customers’ personally identi-fiable information, and on average, it took businesses 211 days to identify and contain a breach. Sectors with the highest-costing attacks included finance, services and technology. Among the 17 geographies surveyed, India is fourth-worst in time taken to identify and contain a data breach. A data breach in India, on aver-age, lay exposed for 313 days. For more, see Plain Facts.
Attacks on journalists on the rise
Clamp downs on the media have increased sharply this year, with journalists facing attacks by state security forces in 21 worldwide protests, including those during India’s communal riots, since January. In its recent report, UNESCO said between January and June this year, mediapersons have been increasingly attacked, arrested, even killed. The report, “Safety of Journalists Covering Protests: Preserving Freedom of the Press During Times of Civil Unrest", shows a “wider upward trend" in the use of unlawful force by police and security forces over the past five years, with more than 30 protests impeded by police and security forces last year alone—double the 2015 number. In the past five years, at least 10 journalists have been killed while covering global protests, all rooted in concerns over economic injustice, government corruption, declining political freedoms and growing authoritarianism, says the report.
What brought us joy last year
At a time when everything, from news to events around us, seems overwhelming, here’s something to remind you where we found joy last year: in everyday conversations. A Twitter India study, which analysed 850,000 Tweets across 22 cities from September-November 2019, found themes such as animals, celebration, celebrity content, doing good deeds, family, food, humour, nostalgia, romance and sports drove joyful conversations on the social media platform. Southern cities like Ernakulam, Hyderabad and Chennai led conversations across themes of sports, food, celebration, celebrity content and humour, says the study. Ludhiana topped the charts for conversations on romance, while Raipur spent the most time discussing animals. Bhubaneswar had the most conversations around family and doing good deeds, whereas Mumbai led conversations on nostalgia.
Curated by Shalini Umachandran and Pooja Singh. Have something to share with us? Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet to @shalinimb