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Your Wednesday Briefing


After several long months of lockdown, residents of Wuhan, China, can now leave the city after displaying a phone app that measures — based on their home addresses, recent travels and medical histories — their contagion risk. Shops are reopening, people are going to parks and the city is cautiously coming back to life.

The lifting of the 10-week lockdown on Wednesday came after only three new coronavirus cases were reported in the city in the previous three weeks, and a day after China reported no new deaths for the first time since January.

Within the city of 11 million, tough rules are still in place to prevent the virus from regaining a foothold. Officials continue to urge everyone to stay at home as much as possible. Schools are still closed.

Wuhan is still a “profoundly damaged” city, our correspondents write. “Sickness and death have touched hundreds of thousands of lives, imprinting them with trauma that could linger for decades.”

Experts are wondering if Japan’s new attempts to contain the coronavirus are too little, too late.

The state of emergency announced by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is not a lockdown — it relies on voluntary compliance. Japan’s Constitution would have to be amended to give Mr. Abe the power to impose stay-at-home orders or force businesses to close. And testing so far has been limited.

Tokyo’s governor, Yuriko Koike, has asked residents to stay inside for the last two weekends and has encouraged people to telecommute, but a government survey found just one in 8 respondents have ever worked from home. And day cares are still open.

By the numbers: Japan reached 3,906 confirmed cases on Tuesday, exactly double the number a week earlier. In Tokyo, by most measures the world’s largest city, cases have doubled in the last five days to more than 1,000.

Guyana, once one of South America’s poorest countries, is speeding toward a future as an oil-producing giant.

Many are welcoming that change. Others, though, wonder whether the new wealth will change life for the majority or just a select few. Ethnic tensions are already intensifying, and environmentalists worry about the toll of fossil fuel production on a nation where nine out of 10 people live below sea level.

Australia: The country’s highest court overturned the sexual abuse conviction of Cardinal George Pell, the highest-ranking Roman Catholic leader found guilty in the church’s pedophilia crisis.

Afghanistan: Talks on a prisoner swap between the Afghan government and the Taliban appeared to be collapsing on Tuesday, as Taliban leaders ordered their negotiators to pull out of the discussions. The exchange is seen as crucial to preserving a fragile peace deal between the Taliban and the U.S.

Vanuatu cyclone: A category 5 storm ripped through the Pacific island nation for the second day, cutting off communications in some areas and complicating rescue efforts. No deaths have been reported, but there are scenes of sweeping destruction.

Snapshot: Above, a caribou in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. A writer for our Travel section reflected on a six-month, 4,000-mile journey there and its lessons about moving forward in a time of uncertainty.

What we’re watching: The movie “Survival Family” on Netflix, about a Japanese technology-addled family forced to come together to survive a breakdown of the electrical grid. It is “mostly comic before it turns dark, and then back again,” says Motoko Rich, our Tokyo bureau chief.

Do: A lot of people are shopping for tiny desks. And many are wondering how to celebrate Passover and Easter.

Stephen Castle, The Times’s London correspondent, has been covering Britain’s coronavirus outbreak and Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s personal experience with Covid-19. I spoke to him about what he’s seeing on the ground.

Walk us through Boris Johnson’s condition and how his case has progressed.

We heard on Tuesday that he was stable overnight and was still in intensive care. Critically, they said he had gotten some oxygen but had not been on a ventilator or required treatment.

His girlfriend Carrie Symonds, who is pregnant, tweeted about feeling symptoms, but we have no suggestion that she has suffered anything as serious as Boris Johnson.

What’s the mood right now in Britain?

There was quite a lot of surprise and a certain amount of shock of the announcement this week.

Really until Thursday and even into Friday, the plan was for him to come out of self-isolation on Friday, which would have been seven days from when he was diagnosed. Then he himself did a sort of rather shaky at-home video explaining his situation, in which he didn’t look terrible, but he didn’t look great either. That was as far as we knew.

What are the big questions about leadership in this time of crisis?

It has caused a little bit of a power vacuum. We’re in a rather unpredictable position where we’re slightly unclear how the government is being run. As you know, there is no written constitution.

The foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, is deputizing for the prime minister, but there does seem to be this feeling at the moment that everything is kind of going wrong for the government at an incredibly critical time for the country.

That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.

— Melina

Thank you
To Melissa Clark for the recipe, and to Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the break from the news. You can reach the team at [email protected].

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about the presidential primary election in Wisconsin.
• Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: Cup of joe (four letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Join The Times’s science team for a live discussion of the latest findings on the coronavirus. R.S.V.P. here for the call, at 6 a.m. Thursday in Sydney.


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