Your Monday Briefing


Wuhan, the Chinese city where the pandemic began, had no coronavirus patients in its hospitals as of Sunday, a government official said.

The city of 11 million was the first to go into lockdown, at the end of January. It has been showing signs of recovery since restrictions were relaxed on April 7. On Saturday, the city still had 12 known coronavirus cases, but no new infections.

The official death toll from the outbreak in Wuhan stands at 3,869, though critics say the actual figures are higher.

Speculation about the North Korean leader’s health has been swirling since he missed the country’s biggest annual celebration: the April 15 birthday of his grandfather, Kim Il-sung, who founded the Stalinist state.

Kim Jong-un’s last public appearance was more than two weeks ago, on April 11, when he presided over a Politburo meeting. This is not the first time Mr. Kim has disappeared from public view for weeks at a stretch, but rumors have exploded. One report in the American news media said he was “in grave danger” after surgery. Others speculated that he was dead.

Spy satellites have in recent days spotted a train “probably belonging” to Mr. Kim in Wonsan, an east coast town where Mr. Kim’s family has a seaside compound. And a South Korean news report said on Saturday that the U.S. had detected preparations for a missile test in Sondeok, farther up the east coast, where North Korea has launched missiles in the leader’s presence.

A defector’s view: Joo Sung-ha, a North Korean who fled the country and is now a journalist in the South, said on Facebook that it was reasonable to believe that Mr. Kim had health problems. But, Mr. Joo said, he had zero trust in news reports detailing whether and why the North Korean leader faced a grave medical emergency.

Information about the health of the Kim family is “the secret among secrets” in the North, Mr. Joo said.

Eight months into India’s push to consolidate control over Kashmir, doctors say a state of hopelessness has morphed into a severe psychological crisis, with health workers reporting an alarming increase in cases of depression and anxiety.

The recent turmoil and trauma in the region, which is claimed by both India and Pakistan, have been worsened by the coronavirus pandemic, the medical professionals say.

“This is just the tip of an iceberg,” said Dr. Majid Shafi, a psychiatrist who is seeing more than 500 patients a week, up from 100 a week last year. “The crisis is growing.”

Context: Decades of violence between Indian security forces and Kashmiri militants had already taken a physical and mental toll on the region’s people. Nearly 1.8 million Kashmiris, or almost half of all adults, have some form of mental disorder, Doctors Without Borders has estimated. Nine of 10 have experienced conflict-related trauma.

A Facebook group that was started in Russia in which members recreate artworks while stuck at home during the coronavirus lockdown has attracted tens of thousands of followers abroad.

The recreations use things like Russian dumplings, wine corks and popcorn in place of skulls on a battlefield. Toilet paper rolls become Renaissance-era neck ruffs. A boy’s messy bedroom invokes Kandinsky.

The group’s name, Izoizolyacia, combines the Russian words for “visual arts” and “isolation.” Museums worldwide are also encouraging homebound art fans to send in photographs of their efforts to bring to life their favorite paintings.

U.S. presidential campaign: President Trump’s erratic handling of the coronavirus outbreak, the worsening economy and new polling have Republicans increasingly nervous that they are at risk of losing the presidency and the Senate in November if Mr. Trump does not put the nation on a radically improved course.

Congo park attack: Twelve rangers were among 17 people killed in Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in one of the worst massacres in the park’s recent history. The park blamed members of a Rwandan rebel group for the attack.

Saudi Arabia flogging: The state-run human rights commission has confirmed that flogging has been abolished as punishment in Saudi Arabia. Human Rights Watch called the move a “positive step” but added there were many aspects of the Saudi justice system that remained problematic, including execution by beheading.

Yazidi trial in Germany: An Iraqi accused of being an Islamic State fighter went on trial in Frankfurt on charges of genocide, human trafficking and the torture and murder of a 5-year-old Yazidi girl he had held as a slave in Iraq. His trial is believed to be the first in the world that carries the charge of genocide in relation to the Yazidis.

Snapshot: Above, a bride, Noha Hamid, and her groom, Mustafa Amin, donned protective gear during their wedding last week in Qalyub, north of Cairo. Couples across the Middle East are pressing ahead with scaled-back weddings during the coronavirus pandemic, sometimes at the risk of arrest for flouting social distancing rules.

What we’re reading: Grub Street’s testament to the unique status of the Park Slope Food Coop in Brooklyn, N.Y. “More than once in the last month, I have stood in line — gratefully — for an hour plus,” writes the Briefings editor, Andrea Kannapell. “The personal investment in the food supply chain kinda, sorta, maybe offsets the alienation imposed by capitalism, cubed by pandemic.”

Cook: For the easiest shortbread ever, Melissa Clark melts the butter and whisks the dough by hand.

Read: Here’s a letter of recommendation for bird-watching, which it turns out is one of the great activities for the housebound.

If you’re able to stay put, our At Home collection has a lot of ideas of what to read, cook, watch and do to keep busy.

Over the weekend, The Times published portraits of the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan around the world, which has proved popular with readers. We asked one of the photo editors, Craig Allen, to explain how it came about.

Our international photo desk has editors in three hubs across the world. Last week, the editors most responsible for assigning photography in these regions — Gaia Tripoli in London, me in New York and Mikko Takkunnen in Hong Kong — were thinking about ways to show readers what the beginning of Ramadan would look like this year, as the coronavirus crisis continues to transform the way people live.

A couple of weeks ago, we had put together a photo-led piece on Good Friday, with pictures from our photographers at the Vatican and in a number of the countries with strong communities of the world’s estimated 1.3 billion Catholics. Ramadan is observed by some 1.8 billion Muslims across the world, and we were ready for a more ambitious approach. We assigned 21 photographers in 21 cities to document the start of this most unusual Ramadan.

Dan Balilty’s striking photograph of a man praying on a rooftop in Jerusalem during a sandstorm — with the Dome of the Rock in the background — led the essay. We got an intimate look into people’s homes as they celebrated the start of the holy month in Johannesburg, Mumbai and Kuala Lumpur. We saw grand mosques, empty or nearly so, in Brooklyn, New Delhi, Sarajevo, Paris, Dearborn and Bangkok. And we showed people distributing food for iftar in Myanmar, Indonesia and Egypt.

We aimed for geographic, cultural and aesthetic diversity, asking photographers to document what they found in their own communities, from an intimate iftar supper in Jeddah to a solitary prayer on a lake in Kashmir.

If you’re celebrating, Happy Ramadan.


That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.

— Carole


Thank you
To Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the rest of the break from the news. You can reach the team at briefing@nytimes.com.

P.S.
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about the changing ways of grieving during the coronavirus pandemic.
• Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: Exhilarating and intoxicating (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• The New York Times publishes websites in English, Spanish and Chinese, and translates many articles into other languages, like this recent dispatch from Paris.

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