On patrol in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, during the shutdown. Photo: Zinyange AuntonyAFP/Getty Images

Zimbabweans protesting economic distress and high costs of living this week attempted to enforce a three-day national shutdown by blocking roads and pressuring businesses to close.

The government responded by blocking access to the internet. This comes just weeks after authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo blocked the internet to stop "fictitious" election results from spreading (perhaps they prefer to spread them themselves).

The latest: "Econet Wireless Zimbabwe Ltd., the country’s biggest mobile-phone operator, said Wednesday night it’s still blocking access to some social-media sites on government instructions," per Bloomberg.

The bigger picture: Axios Media Reporter Sara Fischer notes that internet censorship is a major concern ahead of general elections this year in Nigeria, Algeria, Senegal, Tunisia and Botswana.

  • Election-related social media shutdowns have been reported in Ethiopia, Chad, Uganda and elsewhere. In Ghana, which has a comparatively strong democracy, social media was blocked on election day in 2016.

What to watch: China's global influence could have a profound effect on internet freedom. Per Quartz, China "isn’t just tightening online controls at home but is becoming more brazen in exporting some of those techniques abroad" through "official training, providing technological infrastructure to authoritarian regimes, and insisting that international companies accept its content regulations even outside of China."

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WHO head: There will be no return to the "old normal" in near future

World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned Monday that "there will be no return to the 'old normal' for the foreseeable future," but that there is a "roadmap" for struggling countries to get the virus under control.

Why it matters: A record 230,000 new cases of COVID-19 were reported to the WHO on Sunday, as total infections approach 13 million worldwide.

Updated 46 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11 a.m. ET: 12,945,828 — Total deaths: 569,878 — Total recoveries — 7,147,807Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11 a.m. ET: 3,308,165— Total deaths: 135,219 — Total recoveries: 1,006,326 — Total tested: 40,282,176Map.
  3. Public health: Houston public health system CEO says situation is "dire."
  4. Eduction: College fraternity houses could become hotbeds.
  5. 🎧 Podcast: PPE shortages strike again amid surge.
2 hours ago - Health

SPACs are the new IPOs

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Churchill Capital Corp. III has agreed to acquire health-cost management services provider MultiPlan at an initial enterprise value of $11 billion, as such deals continue to proliferate as alternatives to IPOs.

Why it matters: This is the largest special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) merger, and it also includes the largest private investment in public equity (PIPE) associated with a SPAC. Existing MultiPlan owners like Hellman & Friedman and General Atlantic will roll over more than 75% of their collective stake and own over 60% of the public company.