Your Wednesday Briefing: Shanghai’s Devastating Outbreak

Even the lobby of this Shanghai hospital is crowded with patients. Credit…Qilai Shen for The New York Times

Covid rages in Shanghai

In Shanghai last week, local health officials said that up to 70 percent of the city’s 26 million residents had been infected, and they expressed confidence that its Covid outbreak had peaked.

But China’s Covid wave is still deluging its most populous city. The photographer Qilai Shen took pictures of the outbreak.

Patients arrive at the emergency room.Credit…Qilai Shen for The New York Times

Hospitals are overwhelmed. Staff members say they are overworked because many colleagues are absent after testing positive for the virus. Patients are being treated in every available space, including lobbies and hallways.

Funeral homes are, too. Mourners grieve in the streets, holding the ashes of their loved ones.

Mourners walked by a funeral home.Credit…Qilai Shen for The New York Times

Context: Shanghai endured one of China’s most grueling lockdowns last spring. Cots flooded dirty quarantine centers and residents were stuck at home for more than two months, fueling anger and anxiety.

Global warming only continues

The eight warmest years on record have occurred since 2014, European climate scientists said yesterday. Last year was the fifth-hottest year on record; 2016 remains the hottest ever.

Despite a third year of La Niña, a climate pattern that tends to suppress global temperatures, Europe had its hottest summer ever in 2022. Eastern and Central China, Pakistan and India all experienced lengthy and extreme heat waves, and monsoon floods in Pakistan ravaged much of the country.

Understand the Situation in China

The Chinese government cast aside its restrictive “zero Covid” policy, which had set off mass protests that were a rare challenge to Communist Party leadership.

  • Rapid Spread: Since China abandoned its strict Covid rules, the intensity and magnitude of the country’s outbreak has remained largely a mystery. But a picture is emerging of the virus spreading like wildfire.
  • Rural Communities: As Lunar New Year approaches, millions are expected to travel home in January. They risk spreading Covid to areas where health care services are woefully underdeveloped.
  • Economic Recovery: Years of Covid lockdowns took a brutal toll on Chinese businesses. Now, the rapid spread of the virus after a chaotic reopening has deprived them of workers and customers.
  • A Failure to Govern: China’s leadership likes to brag about its governance of the country, but its absence in a moment of crisis has made the public question its credibility.

Overall, the world is now 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.1 degrees Fahrenheit) hotter than it was in the second half of the 19th century, when emissions of planet-warming carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels became widespread.

“If you draw a straight line through temperatures since 1970, 2022 lands almost exactly on where you’d expect temperatures to be,” one researcher said.

The U.S.: Carbon emissions inched up last year, even as renewable energy surpassed coal power.

Resources: Here’s a primer on the basic science behind climate change and photos of the crisis.

Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., the president of the Philippines, and Sara Duterte, the vice president.Credit…Ezra Acayan/Getty Images

A strategic Marcos-Duterte alliance

The children of two former autocratic presidents lead the Philippines: Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is president, and Sara Duterte is the vice president.

Critics say their partnership is designed to protect their two powerful political families and shape their fathers’ legacies. Both patriarchs were accused of rights abuses and corruption, and both families face multiple legal challenges.

Marcos and Duterte are working to present a united front. Marcos defended Rodrigo Duterte’s vicious war on drugs, and Sara Duterte defended the use of a controversial phrase in a new textbook that refers to the years of martial law under the elder Ferdinand Marcos.

But their balance of power is fragile. Duterte, a popular former mayor, has shown she will not serve in Marcos’s shadow. She has set up satellite offices in key cities and could be a strong candidate in 2028.

Diplomacy: The stakes are high for the U.S. as it tries to deepen its ties to Southeast Asia, where China is increasingly trying to gain influence. The Philippines is a key security partner and its oldest treaty ally in the region.

Families: Dynasties dominate national politics in the Philippines — just a few families constitute up to 70 percent of Congress.


Around the World

Millions of Brazilians believe that October’s presidential election was rigged, despite analyses finding nothing of the sort.Credit…Victor Moriyama for The New York Times
  • Deeply rooted conspiracy theories and mass delusion drove Brazilians to riot.

  • Violent riots in Peru over the ouster of the former president are sweeping the country. At least 17 people were killed on Monday in what a rights activist called “a massacre” by security forces.

  • President Biden is meeting with the leaders of Mexico and Canada in Mexico City. They are seeking to make headway on an immigration surge and the fight against drug trafficking.

The War in Ukraine

Soledar, a small city in eastern Ukraine, is close to Bakhmut, Russia’s ultimate prize. Credit…Roman Chop/Associated Press
  • The fight for the small eastern city of Soledar has intensified, as Russia seeks to gain a foothold around Bakhmut, an eastern Ukraine city.

  • The Wagner Group, a private military contracting company, has recruited prisoners and is leading the offensive for Russia. Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, said he would send more troops and arms to the east.

  • Ukrainian soldiers will travel to the U.S. to learn how to operate the Patriot missile system.

  • More than 200 Russian doctors signed a letter urging President Vladimir Putin to give Aleksei Navalny, the imprisoned opposition politician, medical care. They signed with their full names, a rare example of public criticism.

U.S. News

  • President Biden’s lawyers found classified documents in his former office, White House officials said.

  • A 6-year-old who shot his teacher in Virginia last week appeared to do so intentionally, the police said.

  • Heavy rains caused flooding in California.

  • Damar Hamlin, the football player who went into cardiac arrest during a game, was released from intensive care.

A Morning Read

The Sydney Modern is an extension of the Art Gallery of New South Wales.Credit…Petrina Tinslay for The New York Times

The Sydney Modern, which opened last month, doubles the exhibition space of one of Australia’s most important institutions. The modern design, and a new curatorial focus, are an attempt to reframe Sydney as a cultural hub with Indigenous roots and close ties to Asia, instead of looking to Europe or the U.S. for validation.


Harry, unbuttoned

“Spare” at a bookstore in London yesterday.Credit…Andrew Testa for The New York Times

“Spare,” Prince Harry’s memoir, is an emotional and embittered book, my colleague Alexandra Jacobs writes in her review.

“Like its author, ‘Spare’ is all over the map — emotionally as well as physically,” Alexandra writes. The entire project is mired in a paradox, she writes: Harry is demanding attention, despite his stated effort to renounce his fame.

Above all, “Spare” is a bridge-burner, our London bureau chief writes. Harry frames his family as complicit in a poisonous public-relations contest, dashing hopes for a reconciliation anytime soon. He is raunchy, joking about a frostbitten penis and how he lost his virginity. He’s vindictive: He details fights with Prince William, portraying his brother as ill-tempered, entitled and violent. And he grieves his mother, Princess Diana, his repressed recollections unlocked by therapy and a whiff of her perfume.

The deepening rift could complicate King Charles III’s coronation, planned for May. And the memoir may also finally exhaust the public’s patience with the self-exiled couple, even in the U.S. Still, the ubiquitous coverage is unlikely to damage sales, at least in the short term. Here are 11 takeaways from the tell-all.


What to Cook

Credit…David Malosh for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Simon Andrews.

Yakisoba is a Japanese stir-fried noodle dish with a tangy-sweet sauce.

What to Watch

Here’s what Times staff think should win at the Oscars.

What to Read

In “The Half Known Life,” a secular seeker visits holy sites to study ideas of the world beyond.

How to Work

Focus like it’s 1990.

Now Time to Play

Play the Mini Crossword, and a clue: Messy situation (five letters).

Here are the Wordle and the Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. — Amelia

P.S. Tell us about your reading goals for 2023.

“The Daily” is on the meltdown of Southwest Airlines over the holidays.

Questions? Comments? Email me at [email protected].

Related Articles

Back to top button