Workers prepare a face mask exhibition in Prague. Picture: David W Cerny/Reuters/African News Agency (ANA)
Workers prepare a face mask exhibition in Prague. Picture: David W Cerny/Reuters/African News Agency (ANA)

What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

By Reuters Time of article published May 22, 2020

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From South Korea's turbocharged tracing to a mask museum in the Czech Republic, here's what you need to know about the coronavirus right now.

No target for economic growth

China's parliament meeting, delayed from March due to the coronavirus pandemic, opened on a sombre tone on Friday as Premier Li Keqiang omitted an annual growth target and pledged more government spending to shore up the world's second-largest economy.

The omission from Li's work report marks the first time China has not set a GDP target since the government began publishing such goals in 1990.

Li referred to the "very uncertain" global epidemic, economic and trade situations, and "some unpredictable factors" China's development was facing in his speech at the start of the meeting.

South Korea's turbocharged tracing

Merging its advanced methods of collecting information and tracking the virus with a new data-sharing system that patches together cellphone location data and credit card records allows South Korea to be able to track the wide-ranging movements of people testing positive for the coronavirus within minutes.

The new digitised system remains reliant on people operating it to approve and upload data, which can lead to delays. And in some cases, concerns over privacy and security have led to access being so restricted that some local officials said they had to rely on old-fashioned methods.

Hitting Japan's elderly hardest

Elderly Japanese became an increasingly important part of the labour pool after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe launched his "Abenomics" policies in 2012 to revive the world's third-largest economy. They filled roles as shop clerks, cleaners and taxi drivers in a country with the world's oldest population and lingering unease about immigration.

Now, the coronavirus has shuttered shops and offices and leaving some elderly without work, even as they are more at risk from the disease than other age groups.

Mask museum

One day, when the coronavirus crisis is behind us, we may look back to this era with awe at how it changed the world.

The Czech National Museum is already heralding that time, opening an exhibition of face masks worn to protect against the infection. The Czech government was one of the first to make it compulsory to wear a mask outside the home.

Chosen from hundreds sent in by the public, the exhibit includes masks featuring folk motifs, fun designs and the national flag.

The exhibition opens on Monday, just as the government relaxes its mask policy. People will no longer have to wear them outdoors but must still do so on public transport and in public buildings - including the museum.

* Compiled by Karishma Singh

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