Welcome back to Axios World. Hope you're healthy and happy in these crazy times.
Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios
With the world shutting down and spreading out, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has — in the course of four days — shown what an alternative approach to the coronavirus pandemic might look like, and why it's nearly impossible to execute.
The big picture: Johnson, flanked by his scientific advisers, laid out a strategy premised on some crucial concessions: tens of millions of Britons could be infected, many would die, and the danger would loom for many months — with fresh waves expected in the autumn and beyond.
Johnson — who has throughout the crisis abandoned populist bravado in favor of somber deference to expertise — charted a different course last Thursday:
There were at least two major vulnerabilities to Johnson’s plan:
Driving the news: It was the first scenario, along with public pressure, that forced Johnson’s hand today.
"Clearly what we’re announcing today is a very significant change in the way we want people to live their lives, and I can’t remember anything like it in my lifetime. I don’t think there’s really been anything like it in peacetime. And we have to accept that it’s a very significant psychological, behavioral change that we’re asking you, we’re asking the public, the nation to do."— Boris Johnson
The bottom line: The U.K.’s approach is starting to converge with those of similarly affected countries. It’s easier to join the herd than set off on your own.
In Italy, the number of deaths continues to rise — 368 on Sunday alone — and frustration is growing with the EU for its lack of support.
In Spain, schools, bars and restaurants were ordered to close starting Saturday, while citizens were told to stay at home unless absolutely necessary.
Waiting to vote, in Leonora, Guyana. Photo: Luis Acosta/AFP via Getty Images
Guyana’s March 2 election came while the country is on the cusp of a transition from relative poverty to newfound wealth — and it was marred by severe irregularities that caused the U.S. and other countries to reject the result.
Why it matters: The coming days could determine whether the world’s next oil-rich country maintains democracy or slips back into strongman rule just as revenues start to flood in.
Driving the news: Results that showed incumbent President David Granger on course for victory were rejected by election observers, the courts and finally the international community.
What they’re saying: “We’re giving it one more shot. If this fails again, and they attempt to subvert the process, then it will be … even more apparent to all that the elections were rigged,” Bharrat Jagdeo, the opposition leader and a former president, told Axios in a phone interview today.
Crowded skies in Kenya. Photo: Fred Mutune/Xinhua via Getty
Vast locust swarms — one of which is three times the size of New York City — are tearing through crops in East Africa and leaving 20 million people at risk of a food crisis.
How it happened, per Nature:
The bottom line: This problem can be contained through adequate monitoring and prevention. Now, the UN is seeking $138 million to limit the damage and support those affected.
Thanks for all the emails about stories you’d like to read. One reader mentioned Guyana, and another asked about this topic.
Honduran migrants wait to plead their asylum cases in Tijuana. Photo: Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images
While President Trump’s attention at present has been on keeping Europeans from landing at U.S. airports rather than migrants from crossing the southern border, the Supreme Court last week ruled that one of his signature immigration policies — “Remain in Mexico” — could continue.
The big picture: The policy has kept tens of thousands of asylum-seekers on Mexican soil to wait out their immigration court hearings. The program has been credited with helping lower the border crossing numbers from crisis levels, Axios’ Stef Kight writes.
On the ground: David Miliband, CEO of the International Rescue Committee, visited the border last week and told Axios that while border crossings are down, the human suffering that drives them continues, and the backlog of people waiting for asylum hearings is growing.
Miliband, who also met with top Mexican officials, said, "There's a very heavy dose of realism in Mexico about its relative power" — thus the willingness to comply with Trump's policy.
What to watch: Now is the time to deal with the backlog and implement policies that will prevent future crises, Miliband said.
Photo: Edwin Remsberg/VWPics/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
I knew nothing about Lesotho until, a few weeks back, the prime minister was accused of killing his wife, allegedly to transfer the benefits of first-ladyship to his current wife, who has also been implicated in the murder.
That gap in knowledge was on my mind during a wander through my local bookstore, when I stumbled upon “Everything Lost is Found Again: Four Seasons in Lesotho."
The book is joyous, funny and rich in its descriptions of life in a place few Americans have thought of, let alone visited.
“Everyone holds hands here. Everyone touches. Men with men, women with women, tough teenage boys with tough teenage boys. It is not uncommon for a stranger to take your hand as he walks beside you, asking where you are going or what has brought you to Lesotho.”
That makes for jarring reading in the time of the coronavirus, but I'm glad to have something to read that takes me away from the current headlines.
Prayer and the virus. In Istanbul. Photo: Chris McGrath/Getty Images
"Within a couple of days [the number of cases] is going to be down to close to zero."— Trump, on March 5
"They think August, July, it could be longer than that."— Trump today, on how long the "crisis" will last