10 major news events you missed in the last week because of the coronavirus pandemic

Lynne Sladky/AP PhotoDiMare farm manager Jim Husk walks among plants in a tomato field, in Homestead, Fla. Thousands of acres of fruits and vegetables grown in Florida are being plowed over or left to rot because farmers can’t sell to places that have closed because of the coronavirus.
  • The coronavirus pandemic has dominated headlines over the past two months, as countries scramble to contain their outbreaks and the death toll climbs higher each day.
  • But news is happening outside of this crisis.
  • From millions of pounds of fresh food destroyed in the US, to a ceasefire on the war in Yemen, here are 10 major events you may have missed in the news this past week.

The coronavirus pandemic has swept the globe, infecting nearly 2 million people and killing at least 124,000 as of April 14, according to Johns Hopkins University.

For the past two months, news of the virus has dominated headlines, as countries scramble to contain the outbreak and death tolls creep higher each day.

But there is still news happening outside of the crisis.

Here are 10 major world events you may have missed in just the past week, as COVID-19 news continues to take centre stage.


At least 30 people were killed by tornados and severe weather in the southeast US.

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Damaged homes line a street Tuesday, April 14, 2020, in Chattanooga, Tenn. Tornadoes went through the area Sunday, April 12.
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Mark Humphrey/AP Photo

Dozens of tornados and severe weather tore through the southeast over the weekend, killing at least 30 people and leaving a heap of destruction in its wake.

The storms began ravaging through the region on Sunday and lasted through Monday, with Mississippi hit hardest. Destruction from the heart of the storm could be felt across parts of Kentucky, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas.

At least 11 people were killed in Mississippi, while nine were killed in South Carolina, and eight in Georgia.

The event marks one of the most severe natural disasters since the coronavirus pandemic took hold across the world; and providing relief for victims has been tricky, as states grapple with the prospect of breaking social distancing guidelines to provide aid.

With hurricane season on the horizon, experts fear that severe weather could become more frequent – leaving some parts of the country even more vulnerable during the pandemic.


Millions of pounds of fresh food are being destroyed by US farmers as a result of business loss during closures and lockdowns.

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DiMare farm manager Jim Husk walks in a tomato field in Homestead, Fla. Thousands of acres of fruits and vegetables grown in Florida are being plowed over or left to rot because farmers can’t sell to places that have closed because of the coronavirus.
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Lynne Sladky/AP Photo

Farmers across the country are being forced to destroy tens of millions of pounds of fresh food – including milk, vegetables, and eggs – that they can no longer sell as the coronavirus outbreak has shuttered restaurants, schools, and businesses.

An estimated 3.7 million gallons of milk are being dumped each day while millions of pounds of onions are being buried and tens of thousands of eggs are smashed.

As many farmers have been left without costumers for over half of their crops, fresh produce is being plowed back into the ground, left to rot in trenches, and dumped into manure pits across farms in Wisconsin, Ohio, Idaho, and Florida.

Limitations on fresh food donations have halted their attempts to donate the food surplus to shelters and delivery programs like Meals on Wheels. Additionally, the overbearing costs of harvesting, transporting, or exporting the crops to other areas of need would put a greater financial strain on farmers who have already lost the majority of their buyers.

The situation has left many heartbroken and unsure of what to do as demand for some crops remains low.


Saudi Arabia announced a two-week ceasefire in the war in Yemen, paving the way for peace talks and a possible end to the conflict.

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Yemeni southern separatist fighters inspect the site of UAE airstrikes, near Aden, Yemen on August 30, 2019.
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Wail al-Qubaty/AP Photo

Last week, Saudi Arabia announced a two-week ceasefire in the war in Yemen, paving the way for peace talks and a possible end to the five-year conflict.

The decision came amid an effort to halt the spread of the coronavirus, following fears that Yemen could see a devastating outbreak as one of the poorest countries in the region. The country’s healthcare systems have been strained by international conflict for years.

Since 2015, Saudi Arabia and its allies have been fighting the Houthi’s – a rebel group backed by Iran that took control over Yemen’s capital and its northwest region – in an effort to restore the Yemeni government.

But the brutal fighting has been largely unsuccessful, and the five-year-long war might finally be coming to an end, as Saudi officials announced that peace talks would be sought in alliance with the United Nations.


A halt in vaccinations over COVID-19 has put millions of children at risk for measles.

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A child about to receive a measles vaccination.
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Reuters

Coronavirus lockdowns around the world could cause over 100 million children to miss their measles vaccinations, putting the world at risk for the worst outbreak of the disease in decades, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Measles vaccine programs have been stopped in at least 24 countries due to the coronavirus pandemic, and 13 more are expected to follow, the agency announced.

Though there is a safe and effective method for containing measles, the pause in vaccination programs could cause a huge upsurge in the disease around the world.

Some countries are already seeing a rise in measles cases, with the Democratic Republic of the Congo already reporting over 6,500 children dead from the disease.

In order to prevent this, the WHO has asked governments to track children who miss out on their vaccines this year.


China limited the flow of the Mekong river, causing devastating droughts last year for countries including Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

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A woman walks with her child at the fishermen’s village of Kbal Chroy on the Mekong River bank near Phnom Penh, Cambodia
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Heng Sinith/AP Photo

A US study found that China had been blocking large amounts of water on the Mekong River leading to widespread droughts last year in countries including Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

The report cited that China’s dams in Beijing were used to cut off the water supply to lower countries, resulting in the worst drought in 50 years and devastating losses to farmers and fishermen. All the while, China’s region of the river flowed with plenty of water.

Satellite data detected water levels and precipitation, and found that China had been benefiting from the cut-off, while other Mekong reliant countries suffered.

The Mekong River provides livelihood to tens of millions of people through fisheries and nutrient-rich waters. But China’s 11 dams on the upper end of the river essentially give the country control over the resource, adding to a debate over how to manage the body of water.


The war in Libya has escalated despite pleas from the United Nations to put a “pause” on the conflict in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

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Damage is seen after shells fell on a residential area, in Abu Slim district south of Tripoli, Libya February 28, 2020.
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Ismail Zitouny/REUTERS

Following last year’s attacks in Libya’s capital, Tripoli, the country’s civil war has escalated despite pleas from the international community to put an end to the fighting during the pandemic.

Both sides of Libya’s war – a conflict between the UN-backed Tripoli government, which is also supported by Turkey and several other militias, against Khalifa Hifter, a US-Libyan citizen who is backed by the United Arab Emirates, Russia, and Egypt – have continued fighting and are reportedly taking advantage of the virus as a distraction mechanism to gain more territory.

Concerns over Libya’s health systems have been heightened during the war, as at least 27 health facilities have been damaged and an additional 14 have closed, leaving the nation highly vulnerable to a devastating outbreak.


The Trump administration designated a Russian white supremacist group as a terrorist organisation.

For the first time ever, the US has designated a white supremacist group in Russia as a terrorist organisation and has implemented individual sanctions on its leaders.

The Russian Imperial Movement is accused of providing terrorist training to white supremacists and neo-Nazi’s from two of its camp bases in Russia and has been alleged with training two Swedish members to carry out multiple bombing attacks in the city of Gothenburg.

Designating this group a terrorist organisation makes it illegal to provide money, support, or equipment to the group. Additional sanctions have been placed on the organisation’s leaders, who have been added to the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists.

The deisgnation comes after the Trump administration has received scrutiny for not responding with stronger punishments against white supremacist groups both domestically, including violent protests initiated by neo-Nazi groups two years ago in Charlottesville, Virginia.


A conspiracy theory linking the coronavirus to 5G technology has caused people to burn cell phone towers in the UK.

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Arsonists in the UK have been destroying 5G phone masts, apparently spurred by a coronavirus conspiracy theory.

A baseless conspiracy theory that links 5G technology to the coronavirus outbreak has gained momentum in the UK, resulting in several arson attacks on cell phone towers. The conspiracy first circulated in January, but has since taken a stronghold in early April. An early version of the theory claimed that 5G technology first began in Wuhan, China – the city where the coronavirus outbreak started – and is responsible for weakening immune systems.

Additional unfounded theories have claimed that Bill Gates is the mastermind behind it all, and celebrities and tabloids who brought attention to the theory have further solidified its popularity.

Several arson attacks have been initiated on phone masts in the UK, causing the UK government to address the theory as “dangerous nonsense.”


Endangered species may face a greater threat as coronavirus lockdowns lead to a decline in wildlife conservation funding, and higher rates of poaching.

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Photo of a poached Rhino.
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Michel Gunther / WWF-Canon

The past few weeks have seen higher poaching rates of Rhinos in typically tourist-filled areas of Botswana and South Africa, which until now, have largely been safe spaces for wildlife and conservation.

But since the coronavirus pandemic has put a halt on wildlife tourism throughout Africa, poachers are finding it easier to hunt endangered species.

Additionally, tourism accounts for funding a large portion of wildlife conservation and land management, which has taken a huge hit in recent weeks.

In South Africa, roughly 85 per cent of conservation funding came from the tourism sector in 2018, causing experts to fear that persistent coronavirus lockdowns may further harm protection efforts for endangered species in the region.


Two adorable Hong Kong Zoo pandas mated for the first time in over a decade, marking an important moment for their species.

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Ying Ying the panda rests at her enclosure at the Ocean Park at Aberdeen’s harbour southwest of Hong Kong
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Amr Abdallah Dalsh/REUTERS

During a week of largely grave news, an otherwise positive event occurred at the Hong Kong zoo when two giant pandas mated for the first time in 13 years.

The pandas – Ying Ying and Le Le – have been trying to mate for over a decade with no success. Giant pandas have a famously short mating season each year, leaving the chance of pregnancy to be both low and worrisome for a species whose declining population has left them vulnerable.

But after the Ocean Park zoo in Hong Kong closed to the public during the coronavirus outbreak, the two pandas took advantage of the privacy and finally mated.

Researchers will know if the mating led to pregnancy as early as June.

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