A worker is shown in a full protective yellow suit and is spraying a cleaner with several other people standing by watching.

A cleaner disinfects an alley of the Vila Ipiranga slum during the coronavirus disease outbreak near Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, March 25, 2020.


Pilar Olivares/Reuters

Top of The World — our morning news round up written by editors at The World. Subscribe here.

Around the world, soldiers are being handed the mandate of keeping people at home as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases nears 490,000. 

South Africa is preparing to join the growing list of countries headed into lockdown, and Bolivia is tightening its border restrictions

As the novel coronavirus pandemic spreads in South America, community transmission from rich travelers to their poorer employees reveal deep inequalities in the region. In Brazil, drug traffickers in Rio favelas have ordered residents to stay home to slow the coronavirus spread. The disparities highlighted by the disease are widespread, and the United Nations warns of a potential global food shortage.  

From The World: 'Emergency releases' from prison reduce risk of virus spread, criminal justice expert says

And: Without support for India's poorest people, lockdown risks failure

UN calls for truce in war-torn Yemen, Gaza braces for COVID-19

Yemen is facing one of the world's most dire humanitarian crises as the Saudi-led military intervention against Iran-aligned Houthi rebels enters its sixth year. But a small sliver of hope comes as warring parties welcomed the UN call for an immediate ceasefire as the already devastated country braces for the pandemic. 

In the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian Canadian doctor warns that the Israeli-Egyptian blockade has turned the densely populated territory into a coronavirus "powder keg."

"The most frustrating part about the health system in Gaza is [that] we actually know the answer, and the answer is an immediate end to the blockade, even if for a short period, so that we can get through this crisis," he said.

Yemen: Five years of conflict leaves millions suffering

And: Fresh from Iran's coronavirus zone, now moving across Afghanistan

How The World followers are coping with self-isolation

We asked, you answered: The World wanted to know what our listeners are doing to cope with self-isolation while social distancing and lockdown measures are in place. Whether it’s incorporating new activities in their routines, taking on new or neglected hobbies or finding creative ways to connect with loved ones, World followers are trying to make their stay-at-home lifestyles more bearable.

Regrowing Australia's forests may require human intervention

In Australia, wildfires have burned through massive forests of mountain and alpine ash — some of the tallest trees in the world. These trees aren’t naturally equipped to deal with frequent fires and are struggling to grow back on their own. But humans are helping to give them a shot at recovery.

With no intervention, these ravaged forests, located primarily in Southeast Australia, would eventually turn into a different type of ecosystem, like savanna or grassland. Owen Bassett, of Forest Solutions, is not ready to let that happen. For years, he has collected seeds from these trees and manually replanted them in an effort to rebuild the forest.

Under lockdown in Spain, hotels transform into field hospitals

An ad on a street tells people to stay at home.

An ad advising people to be responsible and stay home is displayed at the almost empty Preciados street due to the coronavirus outbreak in central Madrid, Spain, March 14, 2020.


Sergio Perez/Reuters

Over the last week, the lack of intensive care spaces has forced Spain's government to get creative. A massive conference center on the outskirts of Madrid has been requisitioned and turned into a field hospital. Milder cases are being sent to hotels-turned-makeshift hospitals.

The effect of confinement in Madrid — where lives are usually lived at maximum volume on streetside terraces and neighborhood bars — has been dramatic. 

One 6-year-old named Carmen tweeted a message to the police, with the help of her parents, to ask if the tooth fairy was still allowed to visit. Luckily, the tooth fairy in Spain is a mouse named Perez, so he was exempt on the grounds that he could not catch the virus.

Morning meme

The Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra in The Netherlands has a soothing rendition of Beethoven's 9th for a little moment of "Ode to Joy."  

In case you missed it

Listen: What's next after India's coronavirus lockdown?

A close-up photograph of a reddish metal gate with a motorcycle parked behind it and the India Gate war memorial is shown off in the distance.

A sign pasted on a security barricade is seen after the India Gate war memorial was closed for visitors amid measures for coronavirus prevention in New Delhi, India, March 19, 2020.


Adnan Abidi/Reuters

As India settles into a nationwide lockdown, a looming question is whether its health care system will be prepared for what's next. And, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore have all been praised for "flattening the curve" of COVID-19 outbreaks. But sadly, these places can't celebrate just yet. If you're an ant the size of a sesame seed, danger can come in many forms. New research has found that Myrmecina graminicola ants have a unique defense: They tuck into a ball and roll.

Don't forget to subscribe to The World's Latest Edition podcast using your favorite podcast player: RadioPublicApple PodcastsStitcherSoundcloudRSS.

Related Stories