UNITED NATIONS — United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said Tuesday the coronavirus pandemic has led to the largest disruption of education in history, with schools closed in more than 160 countries in mid-July, affecting over 1 billion students.
In addition, the UN chief said at least 40 million children worldwide have missed out on education “in their critical preschool year.”
As a result, Guterres warned that the world faces “a generational catastrophe that could waste untold human potential, undermine decades of progress, and exacerbate entrenched inequalities.”
Even before the pandemic, Guterres said, the world faced “a learning crisis,” with more than 250 million children out of school, and only a quarter of secondary school youngsters in developing countries leaving school “with basic skills.”
According to a global projection covering 180 countries by the UN education agency UNESCO and partner organizations, some 23.8 million additional children and youths from preprimary school to university level are at risk of dropping out or not having access to school next year due to the pandemic’s economic impact.
“We are at a defining moment for the world’s children and young people,” Guterres said in a video message and a 26-page policy briefing.
UNESCO’s assistant director general for education, Stefania Giannini, told reporters the Paris-based agency plans to hold a high-level virtual meeting in the fall, likely during the second half of October, to secure commitments from world leaders and the international community to place education at the forefront of recovery agendas from the pandemic.
India’s virus infections top 50,000 for 7th-straight day
NEW DELHI — India’s daily confirmed coronavirus infections have topped 50,000 for a seventh-straight day.
Tuesday’s spike of 52,050 new positive cases recorded in the past 24 hours took the national total to 1,855,745, according to the Health Ministry database.
The ministry also reported 803 new deaths, taking total fatalities up to 38,938.
Several political leaders have either tested positive for the coronavirus or gone into quarantine over the last few days.
Since Sunday, India’s home minister, Amit Shah, and the chiefs of two big states have been hospitalized with COVID-19. On Monday, Tripura state’s chief minister and India’s law and justice minister also went into isolation.
Virus cases in Netherlands nearly double week to week
THE HAGUE — The Dutch public health institute says the number of people who tested positive for the coronavirus in the past week was 2,588, nearly double from the previous week.
The institute says a quarter of the people who tested positive were in their 20s. The percentage of positives among the tests also was higher; 2.3 percent compared with 1.1 percent the week earlier.
Coronavirus infections in the Netherlands have been on the rise since many restrictions that had successfully reined in the virus were lifted July 1. No new nationwide measures have been reinstated, but Rotterdam and Amsterdam officials will require people to wear masks in busy shopping areas and markets on Wednesday.
In the last week, there’s been six deaths from the virus, three fewer than a week earlier. The total for the Netherlands stands at 6,150 confirmed deaths.
Israel’s military launches command to help stem surge
TEL AVIV — The Israeli military says it will launch a coronavirus command this week meant to assist in reducing Israel’s surging infections.
Working with the Health Ministry, the military says the command will try to streamline testing, contact tracing, quarantine orders, and other elements of pandemic control in a bid to bring down infections.
The military was enlisted last month after a new coronavirus czar said it would be best placed to handle the logistics of combating the outbreak.
Israel largely contained its first outbreak in the spring but has seen a surge in cases over the summer. It now has one of the world’s highest daily infection numbers adjusted for population.
Australian state gets tough, begins random checks
MELBOURNE — Australia’s hard-hit Victoria state has banned people who should be self-isolating from exercising outside their homes and introduced tougher fines for people with COVID-19 who continue to go to work.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews says military and health teams would repeatedly and randomly door-knock homes to ensure people who should be self-isolating were at home. Teams had checked more than 3,000 homes and couldn’t find more than 800 people who should have been home because they were awaiting a test result or had tested positive for the coronavirus.
Andrews said the government was removing the lawful excuse that someone who should be self-isolating had gone out to exercise.
The government has also increased the fine for failing to self-isolate. Victoria reported 439 new cases overnight and 11 new deaths.
Norwegian ship passengers reach 43 positive tests
COPENHAGEN — The number of passengers on a Norwegian cruise ship who have tested positive for the coronavirus has reached 43, authorities said Tuesday.
The outbreak on the MS Roald Amundsen raised new questions about safety on cruise ships during the pandemic even as the industry is pressing to resume sailings after shutting down in March.
The ship’s owner on Monday halted all trips, and Norway closed its ports to cruise ships for two weeks.
Since the cruise line often acts like a local ferry, traveling from port to port along Norway’s west coast, some passengers disembarked along the route and may have spread the virus to local communities.
A total of 69 municipalities in Norway could have been affected, Norwegian news agency NTB reported on Monday.
Man beaten over face mask dispute in Paris suburb
PARIS — A resident of a Paris suburb says he was beaten with baseball bats because he asked a fellow laundromat patron to wear a face mask – a requirement in all indoor public places in France to fight resurgent coronavirus infections.
Surveillance video of the attack published Tuesday by Le Parisien newspaper shows two people with bats and two others attacking a masked man inside the laundry facility then fleeing, leaving him face down on the floor.
The victim, identified only as Augustin, told BFM television that he was beaten because he had asked one of the attackers to don a mask when he entered the laundromat in the town of Soisy-sous-Montmorency north of Paris.