People wearing protective face masks walk in a busy street in Paris as France reinforces mask-wearing in public places as part of efforts to curb a resurgence of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) across Europe, Sept. 18, 2020.

People wearing protective face masks walk in a busy street in Paris as France reinforces mask-wearing in public places as part of efforts to curb a resurgence of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) across Europe, Sept. 18, 2020.


Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters

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

Across much of Europe, the Middle East and beyond, the coronavirus appears to be making a resurgence, and countries are making tough choices that challenge officials to do what’s best for public health. Many leaders are loath to pay a political and economic price for renewed lockdowns. But such tightened restrictions appear to be the logical next step at a time when growing clusters of COVID-19 cases have returned with no mercy.

In the UK, authorities are turning to new measures in large swaths of central and northern England that will prevent households from mixing and force dining establishments to close early in the evening. Public transport will only be available in certain cities for essential purposes. Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the BBC hospitals are seeing coronavirus patients double about every eight days.

With France fighting to contain the spread, President Emmanuel Macron said Friday that the country’s response needs to be “demanding but at the same time proportionate.” Spain is contending with a massive explosion in cases, particularly among younger people, that rivals the staggering number of infections seen in the spring. And Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis said greater Athens would see gradually reimposed bans, including mandatory mask use in all enclosed public and private places.

In the Middle East, Israel is marking the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, with a second lockdown set to last three weeks that will confine people to within a half-mile of their homes. Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan admitted that Ankara needed to quickly curb a steep rise in infections. And an Iranian senior health official declared a coronavirus red alert covering the whole nation, with a huge jump in new cases and fatalities.

What The World is following

Taiwan scrambled fighter jets and deployed an air defense missile system Friday to counter 18 Chinese aircraft that had crossed a sensitive line over the Taiwan Strait, as a top US envoy visited the disputed island. With tensions escalating, Beijing said it was just conducting military exercises to “protect its sovereignty.”

Meanwhile, the Trump administration has issued new rules to cripple the TikTok and WeChat apps. The tech bans will take effect Sunday on services used by over 100 million people in the US alone, in a sweeping action “to protect Americans from the threats of the Chinese Communist Party,” accodring to a statement by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. While previously installed TikTok apps will still be usable, new downloads or updates will be prohibited. The restrictions on WeChat starting Sunday will ban transferring funds or processing payments while using the app within the US. Similar restrictions are to go into effect for TikTok starting Nov. 12.

From The World

How would Team Biden handle a showdown with North Korea?

North Korea has called Joe Biden an idiot. Yet Biden, pending the outcome of the US presidential election, could very well direct North Korea’s fate in the years to come. For decades running, every American president has tried to stop the Kim dynasty from wielding the most powerful weapon known to man.

The World asked two Northeast Asia experts what to expect if Biden wins the US presidential election.

Report: Colombian protesters’ killings follow pattern of police violence

A recent wave of deadly clashes in Colombia’s capital between uniformed officers and protesters denouncing police brutality is consistent with a long-standing pattern of state abuse, according to an upcoming report looking at complaints against the national police.

Bright spot

When graduate student Dipo Oyeleye heard the song "We Go Win (Corona)" by Cobhams Asuquo, a Nigerian singer-songwriter, he knew what his next research project would be: a study of the myriad coronavirus songs that flourished in Africa at pandemic's onset in March.

Unlike in the US, where very few artists have taken on COVID-19 as the main subject in their songs, African musicians quickly turned to their songwriting as a form of communication to disseminate crucial public health information: social distancing, washing hands and staying home during lockdowns.

In case you missed it

Listen: Why Spain is experiencing a second coronavirus wave

Dozens of people are show walking around a shopping district and wearing face masks in Madrid, Spain.

Pedestrians wearing face masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus walk in downtown Madrid, Sept. 17, 2020. With a COVID-19 caseload above 600,000 and more than 30,000 confirmed deaths, Spain has been the hardest-hit European country in the second wave of the pandemic.


Bernat Armangue/AP

Spain’s capital, Madrid, is experiencing one of Europe’s worst, second-wave outbreaks of the coronavirus. And, officials across the world are anxiously awaiting the outcome of the US presidential race — and that may be especially true for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Also, Wednesday marked 400 years since the Mayflower ship originally set sail for what would later become the United States. To commemorate the event, the US and UK launched a new autonomous, solar-powered vessel that will take part in a research mission on climate change, pollution and conservation.

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