May 31 roundup: Six million COVID-19 cases around the world and the WHO in the spotlight

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This roundup summarises the most important news stories around the world in the last two weeks (May 16 to 31, 2020).

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Around the world, the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases crossed six million. At the demand of 116 countries, the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced an independent review of its response to the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to calls for an “impartial, independent, and comprehensive evaluation” of the international response, the countries also called for an investigation into the origins of the virus.

In the United States (US), over 40 million Americans – or the equivalent of one in four workers in the country – have now filed for unemployment benefits during the pandemic. This happened as the country’s death toll officially surpassed 100,000 people. President Donald Trump also announced that his country was ending its relationship with the WHO.

And in the middle of the pandemic, Cyclone Amphan hit Bangladesh and India, killing at least 22 people, while two dam breaches in Michigan, US, caused severe flooding.

The end of rivalrous political gridlock in Afghanistan and Israel; concerns over Hong Kong resurface: In Afghanistan, president Ashraf Ghani and rival Abdullah Abdullah – who both claimed victory in the election last year – signed a power-sharing agreement, thereby ending a months-long political stalemate and working towards ending war in the country. And in Israel, prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and rival Benny Gantz formally swore in their controversial unity bill.

In China, at the country’s annual Two Sessions meeting, top leaders set no GDP target and focused on a new Hong Kong national security law. The law would ban “sedition, secession, and subversion”. The US then said that it no longer considered Hong Kong to be independent from China.

And in other news around the world, both accidents and good news:

  • Costa Rica: The country became the first in Central America to formally legalise same-sex marriage.
  • India: A traffic accident involving the collusion of a truck and another vehicle left at least 24 migrant workers dead.
  • Pakistan: A passenger plane crashed into homes near the city of Karachi. 97 died and two survived.

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