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Airbnb hosts with ‘distinctively Asian names’ received fewer bookings during pandemic years, study shows

  • The rise of anti-Asian hate amid the spread of COVID-19 in 2020 resulted in fewer bookings for Asian American hosts on Airbnb, a Harvard study published on Aug. 3 suggested.
  • The study, titled “Scapegoating and Discrimination in Times of Crisis: Evidence from Airbnb,” was based on New York City data sourced from the website Inside Airbnb.
  • Researchers found that Airbnb hosts with “distinctively Asian names” encountered a 12 percent decrease in guests compared to hosts with “White-sounding names” after January 2020.
  • The study posits that the ability to view the names and profile photos of hosts on the online house-sharing platform made it “easier for users to discriminate.” 
  • In response to the new study, Airbnb stated that “measuring race based on name does not paint a full or accurate picture. Many hosts who would identify as Asian may not have ‘distinctively Asian names’ and therefore would not be included in the analysis.” 

The rise of anti-Asian hate amid the spread of COVID-19 in 2020 has resulted in fewer bookings for Asian American hosts on Airbnb, as suggested by a recent study. 

The new Harvard University study, titled “Scapegoating and Discrimination in Times of Crisis: Evidence from Airbnb,” revealed that Asian American hosts on the online home-sharing platform received fewer bookings than hosts of other ethnic backgrounds in the year anti-Asian sentiment was on the rise.

1 million residents in Wuhan, China put into lockdown over 4 asymptomatic COVID-19 cases

  • The central Chinese city of Wuhan has mandated one of its districts with one million residents into a lockdown after four asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 were found.
  • Local authorities of the Jiangxia district announced a 3-day “temporary restriction” starting Wednesday after the COVID cases were detected in Wuhan, which studies have pointed to being the origin of the initial COVID-19 outbreak.
  • This is the first time the city has imposed a shutdown since January 2020, when the provincial capital held a 76-day lockdown after the virus was first found.
  • Large gatherings, dining-in, most public transportation and some entertainment venues will be banned.
  • When President Xi Jinping visited the city last month, he declared that the country would sacrifice some of its economic development to remain Covid zero.

The central Chinese city of Wuhan has mandated one of its districts with 1 million residents into a lockdown after four asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 were found. 

Local authorities of the Jiangxia district announced a three-day “temporary restriction” starting Wednesday after the COVID cases were detected in Wuhan, which studies point to being the origin of the initial COVID-19 outbreak.

Hong Kong to issue over 100,000 electronic tracking bracelets to COVID patients to enforce quarantine

  • The Hong Kong government will be distributing more than 100,000 electronic wristbands to better track COVID-19 patients amid the city’s fifth surge of cases.
  • Health secretary Lo Chung-mau announced during a press conference on Monday that those who test positive will have to begin wearing the bracelet on July 15.
  • The city had previously used the wristbands in March 2020 to enforce the mandatory 14 day quarantine for anyone coming from outside the country.
  • There were two versions of the bracelets given to patients: one much thinner with a QR code that could be scanned to check in, and another more intrusive, clunky version.
  • It is unclear which version of the wristband will be given to patients on Friday.

The Hong Kong government will be distributing more than 100,000 electronic wristbands to better track COVID-19 patients amid the city’s fifth surge of cases.

Health secretary Lo Chung-mau announced during a press conference on Monday that those who test positive will have to begin wearing the bracelet on July 15. 

North Korea records first COVID-19 deaths after ‘explosive’ outbreak

  • North Korea has recorded its first COVID-19 deaths after the hermit nation reported an “explosive” outbreak that possibly infected over 350,000 people.
  • Around 18,000 people experienced new “fever cases” on Thursday alone.
  • One of the six people who have died as of Friday was reportedly infected with the BA.2 subvariant of Omicron.
  • The country has called the outbreak in Pyongyang a "major national emergency" but has yet to confirm the exact number of confirmed positive cases.
  • News of its first-ever COVID-19 death was confirmed after the government imposed “maximum emergency measures,” including a nationwide lockdown, to contain the outbreak in the capital.
  • Some experts stated that a significant outbreak could quickly overwhelm North Korea’s poorly equipped health facilities. They also pointed out that only a few of the country’s 25.8 million citizens have been vaccinated.

North Korea has recorded its first COVID-19 deaths after the hermit nation reported an “explosive” outbreak that possibly infected over 350,000 people.

Around 18,000 people in the East Asian country experienced new “fever cases” on Thursday alone. One of the six people who have died as of Friday was reportedly infected with the BA.2 subvariant of Omicron.

WHO chief censored in China after he said its zero-COVID policy is unsustainable

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
  • WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was censored in China after calling the country’s zero-COVID policy unsustainable at a press briefing.
  • The official’s comments, as well as his images and videos containing those comments, were immediately scrubbed from Weibo and WeChat, according to reports.
  • Tedros was seen as an ally of China early in the pandemic when the WHO praised Beijing for its response and echoed its statement that there was “no clear evidence” of human-to-human transmission.
  • In response to Tedros’ comments, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said China hopes relevant people can “view China's policy of epidemic prevention and control objectively” and “refrain from making irresponsible remarks.”

The world’s top health official has reportedly been censored in China after calling its zero-COVID policy unsustainable and stressing the importance of a shift in strategy.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made the criticism at a press briefing on Tuesday.

Video: Woman in China forcibly administered COVID test while being pinned down

woman pinned down

Many internet users have been left horrified by a video posted to Twitter that appears to show a woman in China being pinned down as a worker forcibly swabs her mouth for a COVID-19 test.

The video begins with the woman pinned to the floor as a testing site employee sits on top of her. He then forcibly opens her mouth while another testing worker, wearing a protective suit, swabs her mouth for a COVID test. The woman attempts to resist while screaming; however, the testing employee holds her hands under his knees, preventing the woman from moving. 

Chinese groom has to watch his own wedding through livestream after venue bars him over ‘outdated’ COVID test

  • A Chinese groom watched his wedding on a WeChat livestream after he and other guests were told to wait outside the venue after their COVID-19 tests were deemed invalid after a change in time requirements. 
  • The groom, surnamed Deng, 28, said that he was “about to cry” until his friend began recording a video of the experience to cheer him up and “make me laugh.”
  • The video was posted to the Chinese TikTok platform Douyin, garnering 591,000 likes since it was uploaded on April 27.
  • Once Deng received a new negative test result that afternoon, he returned to the venue where celebrations resumed.

A Chinese groom was forced to watch his wedding on a WeChat livestream after the venue barred him and several other guests from entering due to an “outdated” COVID test, following a last-minute change to the testing requirements.

The 28-year old groom, surnamed Deng, was originally told that all guests needed to provide a negative COVID-19 test “within four days” of his April 26 wedding. At noon on the day of the event, however, the venue informed them that the requirement was changed to mandate negative test results within 48 hours.

Chinese netizens challenge Great Firewall with viral video of Shanghai residents’ voices

  • Chinese social media users fought censors last week when they came up with creative ways to spread a video that highlighted the plight of locked-up residents in Shanghai.
  • The six-minute video, titled “Voices of April,” featured voices of residents who found themselves in difficult situations as the month-long, anti-Omicron lockdown crippled their movement.
  • One voice in the video belonged to a man who expressed his anger as hospitals allegedly refused to admit his ill father.
  • The creator of the video, who reportedly goes by the moniker “Strawberry Fields Forever,” has urged others to stop sharing the video over fears of its distribution in “directions I don’t want.”
  • As of Friday, nearly half of Shanghai’s population were determined to be in lower-risk areas, indicating they can already leave their homes. 

Chinese social media users reportedly battled censors on April 22 when they came up with creative ways to spread a video that featured voices of Shanghai residents locked up in their homes as the city struggles to contain an Omicron outbreak.

The six-minute video, titled “Voices of April,” was blocked soon after being posted on Weibo, but users managed to make it viral by changing its name or pasting QR codes in random photos that allowed others to download it.

Chinese man’s 24/7 livestream of his self-imposed quarantine as performance art draws in millions

  • Performance artist Pang Kuan is willingly going through a two-week “self-quarantine” despite not having COVID-19.
  • On Saturday, he restricted his living space to a 98-by-98-inch platform at the Star Gallery in Beijing.
  • Pang’s performance, which he dubbed “Bye Bye Disco,” is a reflection of the current situation in China, where residents are forced to stay indoors as the government tries to contain the recent surge in COVID-19 cases.
  • The 24/7 livestream of the performance, which shows Pang going about his everyday life in his confined space, has garnered over 3.3 million views so far.  
  • While some viewers find the performance entertaining, others consider it to be “grandstanding.”

A performance artist’s livestream of his two-week “self-quarantine” has been garnering millions of views on Chinese social media. 

Despite not having COVID-19, Pang Kuan started isolating himself on Saturday, restricting his living space to a 98-by-98-inch platform at the Star Gallery in Beijing. The entire space is set up in such a way that his every move can be visible to viewers. 

Canadian man says hospital denial of visits to his dying mother will ‘haunt’ him forever

birchmont hospital
  • As his mother was dying in the hospital, a Canadian man, John Wu, was told by hospital staff that he could not visit her due to COVID-19 visitation policies.
  • On March 7, Wu was turned away after he went to the hospital to drop off cantaloupes for his mother, Zhong Ying Zhao, and received a call while leaving that his mother had passed.
  • Zhong had been in isolation care at Scarborough’s Birchmount Hospital following a COVID outbreak at her assisted living home.
  • Wu had requested visitation permission for 11 days straight but was rejected each time, even after Zhong had twice tested negative for COVID.
  • In response to Wu’s situation, Scarborough Health Network is currently reviewing its visitation policy.

A man in Canada, John Wu, said he now has a “lifetime regret” after a hospital barred him from visiting his dying mother at Scarborough’s Birchmount Hospital due to COVID-19 visitation policies.

Wu’s mother, Zhong Ying Zhao, was admitted to the hospital on Feb. 24 after falling unconscious at her assisted living facility. Due to a COVID-19 outbreak at the facility, Zhong was placed under isolation at the hospital, reported CBC News.

Panic buying triggered as Shanghai residents are fenced behind metal barriers for ‘hard quarantine’

  • Shanghai residents are now behind metal barriers as the city enters its fourth week of lockdown amid an Omicron outbreak.
  • Government workers and volunteers installed the green fences measuring 2 meters (around 6.5 feet) tall over the weekend across small streets and on entrances to apartment buildings.
  • The move, which authorities describe as “hard quarantine,” falls in line with China’s zero-COVID policy.
  • Beijing has started to fight its own outbreak, with residents mandated to undergo three tests this week.

As Shanghai’s lockdown drags into a grueling fourth week, residents now find themselves trapped behind metal fences, as seen in photos posted on Weibo.

Government workers and volunteers reportedly installed green metal barriers — about 2 meters (around 6.5 feet) tall — in multiple districts over the weekend, blocking small streets and entrances to apartment buildings.

School in Japan receives $27,000 water bill after teacher attempts to prevent COVID

  • A teacher in Japan's Kanagawa prefecture mistakenly believed that a constant flow of fresh water into the school’s swimming pool would prevent coronavirus infections.
  • The school received a $27,000 water bill after the teacher left a tap running from late June to early September last year.
  • An estimated 4,000 tonnes (1,056,680 gallons) of excess water was wasted in over two months, which is enough to fill up the school’s pool at least 11 times.
  • Local authorities are demanding that the teacher and two other supervisors pay half of the 3.5 million yen (approximately $27,000) water bill.

A school in Japan’s Kanagawa prefecture received a $27,000 water bill after a teacher left a tap running for months in hopes of preventing coronavirus infections in a swimming pool.

The teacher, whose name was withheld from reports, left the tap on from late June to early September last year.