(Bloomberg) —

How and when to ease lockdowns to fight the coronavirus — along with government efforts to ramp up testing capacity — were the key questions across the globe this week as the pandemic spread.

In the U.S., small bands of protesters — driven by the social-media tactics of a coalition of gun-rights activists and far-right groups — staged demonstrations over government-ordered closures of businesses and schools, particularly in Democratic-led states. 

Elsewhere the impact of the virus on the world’s poorest people is coming into focus. 

And uncertainty swirled around the state of Kim Jong Un’s health after reports the North Korean leader was in critical condition following cardiovascular surgery. 

Dig deeper into these and other topics with the latest edition of Weekend Reads. 

Patchwork Approach to Reopening States Reveals a Red-Blue DivideAs Amanda Hurley reports, the gap between how Republican- and Democratic-controlled states seek to ease social distacing measures and restart their economies will likely grow wider as the pandemic grinds on.

Inside the Dystopian, Post-Lockdown World of WuhanThe first epicenter is coming back to life, but not as anyone knew it. Sharon Chen and Matthew Campbell — with the help of Claire Che and Sarah Chen — tell what it’s like for some of the millions of people in Wuhan trying to come to grips with the economic and social fallout from the worst pandemic in a century.

The Week Coronavirus Got Away From Boris Johnson’s GovernmentBritain had time. Academics, disease specialists and critics say the prime minister wasted it. Alex Morales, Suzi Ring, Robert Hutton and James Paton take you inside a critical week in March. 

Kim Jong Un Has Put North Korea in Position to Outlast His ReignWhatever the state of Kim’s health, he’s already put North Korea in its strongest position to resist U.S. pressure in decades. Eight years after Kim filled the power vacuum left by the death of his reclusive father, Kim Jong Il, North Korea is more secure and less isolated. Jihye Lee and Jon Herskovitz explain why that matters right now. 

Story continues

Workers Who Make the World’s Clothes Are Facing Abject PovertyRozina Begum is worried that she and her husband and two children will starve. Rozina — along with 300 other workers at the Ultimate Fashions plant on the outskirts of Bangladesh’s capital lost their jobs March 25. She’s one of the millions of people who are on the lowest rung of a global supply chain that has been shattered by the virus, Marvin G. Perez and Arun Devnath report. 

Virus Care Disruptions Raise Infant Death Risk in Poor NationsThe Covid-19 pandemic has the potential to reverse years of progress in reducing maternal and child mortality worldwide by impairing access to medical care in poorer countries. Anne Pollak takes a closer look. 

Hope Turns to Doubt, Then Gunfire, as Saudi Megacity EmergesWhen Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman unveiled plans for Neom, a futuristic megacity on the Red Sea coast, residents rejoiced. Jobs and investment would surely accompany the $500 billion development at the center of the young leader’s plan to transform his conservative kingdom. But that optimism has faded. Vivian Nereim explores why. 

High-Seas Energy Fight Off Malaysia Draws U.S., Chinese WarshipsMalaysia’s push to explore energy blocks off its coast has turned into a five-nation face-off involving U.S. and Chinese warships. That’s raised the risk of a direct confrontation as broader tensions grow between the world’s biggest economies, Philip J. Heijmans reports.

Religious Group’s Mass Gatherings Spark Asian Virus ClustersA conservative religious group’s gatherings have emerged as virus hotspots in Malaysia, India and now Pakistan, with authorities tracking people who attended an event with as many as 70,000 worshipers. Faseeh Mangi has more.

Tell us how we’re doing or what we’re missing at balancepower@bloomberg.net.

And finally … Sushen Dang, 26, and his fiancee, Keerti Narang, dreamed of making their wedding an affair to remember — but not like this. Instead of hundreds of guests descending on a wildlife resort for a multi-day revelry with cocktail parties and elaborate feasts, the couple got married over the video conferencing app Zoom amid a stringent national lockdown. It’s just one example of how India’s $70-billion wedding industry has skidded to a stop in the midst of peak marriage season.


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