Your Tuesday Briefing: Beijing’s Fight against Lockdowns

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Good morning. We’re covering the reopening of a mass-isolation center in Beijing, the evacuation of Ukrainian civilians from Mariupol and the forced closure of Rohingya schools in Bangladesh.

Beijing reopened the Xiaotangshan hospital, which has more than 1,000 beds, after recording a few hundred cases in recent weeks. On Monday, officials announced 50 new cases in the city of 22 million, down from the 59 reported on Sunday.

The move appears to be aimed at avoiding the fate of Shanghai, where weeks of confinement have fueled anger and anxiety about the cost of China’s “zero-Covid” strategy. Residents who have spent time in mass isolation or quarantine centers there described piles of garbage, nonstop floodlights and a serious lack of shower facilities.

Response: Officials in Beijing, who are under immense pressure to quickly stamp out outbreaks, have placed a temporary ban on dining in restaurants, closed schools indefinitely and ordered residents to show proof of a negative test within the past week to enter public spaces, including public transportation.

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other developments:


The first large-scale evacuation of civilians from Mariupol, Ukraine, continued as buses of shellshocked residents arrived in Zaporizhzhia, a city 140 miles to the northwest.

Ukrainian officials vowed to sustain the effort despite early-morning shelling in Mariupol. One evacuee said the city’s residents “are starting to talk of suicide because they’re stuck in this situation.”

On Monday, Western leaders were also working to put their promises of aid to Ukraine into action. In Brussels, E.U. ministers were discussing an urgent transition away from Russian energy sources. In Washington, senators prepared to take up President Biden’s $33 billion aid package. Here’s the latest.

Loss: Russian forces killed Iryna Abramova’s husband on the street in Bucha. “The Russians were sitting on the curb, drinking water from plastic bottles, just watching me,” she said. “They didn’t say anything, they didn’t show any emotion. They were like an audience at the theater.”

Escape: Ukrainians are being forced into “filtration” centers in Russian-controlled territory, part of a system of forced expulsions. Two sisters recounted the journey and their escape.

Food supply: Ukraine has limited its exports of sunflower oil, leading to shortages. Dozens of other countries have also erected trade barriers to secure commodities for their citizens, which experts say could worsen a global food crisis.

Other developments:


More than 30 community-run schools, which served tens of thousands of Rohingya children, have been forced to close in recent months.

In December, Bangladeshi authorities began a crackdown on these schools. They said the schools were illegal, but did not try to provide any alternatives — and did not remove the prohibition on the Rohingya attending local schools outside the country’s refugee camps.

The closings have come amid efforts by the government to tighten control of the camps. Last month, authorities destroyed thousands of shops there, according to Human Rights Watch. Many believe that Bangladeshi authorities feared the schools would encourage refugees to stay permanently.

Many parents say that, on the contrary, they want to return to Myanmar and believe Rohingya-run schools will prepare their children for the transition. “I fear that he will forget what he learned,” the mother of a sixth grader said. “If he doesn’t go to school, he will never be able to change his fate.”

Background: More than 700,000 Rohingya have crossed into Bangladesh from Myanmar since 2017 to escape the state-led persecution that the United Nations has called ethnic cleansing.

Details: About half the population of the densely crowded refugee camps are younger than 18; UNICEF says about 400,000 school-age children live there.

Researchers conducted owner surveys for 18,385 dogs and sequenced the genomes of 2,155 dogs. They found that breed is essentially useless for predicting a dog’s behavior.

One of the clearest findings is that breed has no discernible effect on a dog’s reactions to something new or strange. This behavior is what a nonscientist may see as innate aggression and would seem to cast doubt on breed stereotypes of aggressive dogs.

So, Labrador retrievers are not necessarily lovers; pit bulls aren’t predisposed to fight, though they did score high on human sociability.

This is not to say that there are no differences among breeds or that breed can’t predict some things; on average, breed accounts for about 9 percent of the variations in the behavior of any given pup. But the genes that shape dog behavior predate modern breeding, which mostly focuses on appearance. Looks appear to matter less than we think.

You should really broil your salmon. While you’re at it, add a zingy herb salad and some chewy asparagus.

NYT

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