Your Friday Briefing – The New York Times

London will join other big cities in Europe, including Paris and Berlin, in tightening restrictions to beat back a rising new wave of coronavirus infections.

The weekly number of new cases in Europe is now at its highest point since the start of the pandemic, rising to seven million from six million in just 10 days, according to the regional director of the World Health Organization’s Europe office, Hans Kluge. The number of daily deaths have passed the level of 1,000 for the first time in months, he said.

Restrictions on social gatherings were “absolutely necessary,” Mr. Kluge said, and more drastic action might be needed. Business owners were worried.

Here are our latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other developments:

  • Singapore and Hong Kong have reached a preliminary agreement to establish a travel bubble. Under the agreement, travelers must test negative for the virus and fly only on designated flights to avoid having to quarantine.

  • Two officials in Qingdao, China, have been fired and are under investigation after a new outbreak there, the city government said on Thursday.

  • Barron Trump, President Trump’s 14-year-old son, was also infected with the coronavirus, according to his mother, Melania Trump.

As New Delhi enters the fall pollution season, doctors and scientists are warning that deteriorating air quality may make the city’s Covid-19 problems even worse.

Both assault the respiratory system and are peaking at the same time. “We’re just sitting ducks,” an environmental activist said.

India’s coronavirus outbreak continues to spread and is on track to outpace that of the United States, which has the world’s biggest caseload.

Toxic air: The spring lockdown gave the country its clearest skies in years, but the pollution is back. In the fall, air temperatures and wind speeds drop, condensing pollutants over India’s cities, especially in the north. And farmers in rural areas burn stalks and refuse from their crops, sending up huge clouds of smoke that drift for miles.

Countermeasures: The Delhi government is doing more this year to fight pollution, including setting up a war room to track pollution hot spots and turning to anti-smog guns that blast mist into the air to knock down the dust.

The widespread use of smartphones and the internet in Vietnam has meant that those who dare can publish stories to expose corruption and malfeasance. But in a country where the Communist Party fears free speech will undermine its hold on power, that also puts a huge target on their backs.

On Oct. 6, the police arrested an activist and journalist, Pham Doan Trang, on charges of making and disseminating propaganda against the Vietnamese state, which could be punished with up to 20 years in prison. She left a letter foretelling her arrest and calling for an end to one-party rule.

Ms. Pham reported on a police raid in January on villagers who opposed government land seizures in which the 84-year-old village head was shot and killed by the police. She also reported on a 2016 environmental disaster caused when a Taiwanese-owned steel factory discharged toxic waste into the sea along Vietnam’s coast.

Context: Activists say Ms. Pham’s arrest was most likely prompted by the Communist Party’s upcoming congress in January. Vietnam, a strategic U.S. ally and global manufacturing hub, has been cracking down on dissent with little fear of repercussions.

Hong Kong’s lush forests are home to eight species of native venomous snakes, including the Chinese cobra, above. They’re the stars of the Hong Kong Snakes Safari. The nighttime hike highlights the scale of biodiversity in the territory’s wooded hinterlands, and is also a way for city slickers with snake phobias to confront their fears.

Our correspondent managed to keep his anxiety in check while patting the belly of a krait, a highly venomous member of the cobra family.

BTS: Shares in Big Hit, the management company behind the K-pop sensation, skyrocketed on their first day of trading in South Korea. The stock opened on Thursday at double the offering price, then jumped 30 percent in early trading before finishing down on the day, with the company’s value settling at around 8.7 trillion won, or about $7.6 billion.

U.S. election: President Trump and Joe Biden are holding dueling town hall events on rival networks in a few hours, replacing a debate Mr. Trump backed out of after organizers insisted that it go virtual, given the president’s coronavirus diagnosis.

Kyrgyzstan: After more than a week in hiding following a disputed election in Central Asia’s only democracy, President Sooronbai Jeenbekov announced his plans to resign, saying he did not want to go down in history as a leader “who shed blood and shot at his own citizens.”

Kilimanjaro fire: Hundreds of volunteers from local villages in Kenya have joined firefighters racing to stop a blaze that has swept up the slopes of Africa’s tallest mountain, threatening to ravage one of the world’s most diverse ecosystems.

Snapshot: American voters waiting to cast their ballots this week in Georgia, which like many other states has opened more early-voting sites in an effort to make polling places less crowded on Nov. 3. Some voters have waited for hours, illustrating the intensity of the focus on this watershed U.S. election.

What we’re reading: This Twitter thread, which begins, “Describe your favorite movie as boring as possible,” and is getting longer by the minute.

Cook: These pumpkin-ginger oat scones stay both chewy, thanks to pumpkin purée, and crunchy, thanks to the additional oats on the crust.

Read: “Skyhunter,” the latest young adult work from Marie Lu, follows a refugee 5,000 years in the future who defends her country against an evil federation that has taken over the rest of the world.

Do: If you’re having trouble sleeping, research shows that weighted blankets might help.

The weekend is almost here. At Home has ideas on what to read, cook, watch, and do while staying safe at home.

Ken Dychtwald, a psychologist, gerontologist and author, surveyed more than 100,000 boomers (ages 56 to 74) to explore how they are redefining retirement for his new book, “What Retirees Want: A Holistic View of Life’s Third Age.” Here’s an excerpt from his chat with a reporter.

How have your views about retirement changed as a result of the coronavirus and turning 70 this year?

The pandemic this year has given many of us an enormous appreciation for the preciousness of life. I’ve come to realize that I’d like to be useful more than youthful.

However, I have been very troubled by the lack of usefulness among so many of my cohort. I was really troubled when I read that last year the average American retiree watched more than 48 hours of television per week. I don’t believe that’s the best we can do, or that’s the best we can be as elder men and women.

I challenge pre-retirees and retirees to ask: How do I try and see and feel the world from the perspective of those far younger than me? That is an important activity in our new longevity. That we spend time and energy not to just try to hoard our life and our memories, but that we also actively try to be empathetic to different people, younger people.

What has emerged from your research that retirees should think about?

The importance of interdependence alongside independence — we all would do better in our later years if we’re connected and not isolated. And how do I maximize my health span, not just my life span?

And there’s the serious issue of funding our longer lives. A third of the boomers have close to nothing saved for retirement and no pensions; that is a massive poverty phenomenon about to happen, unless millions of people work a bit longer, spend less, downsize or even share their homes with housemates or family.

What is the biggest mistake retirees make?

Far too many think far too small. I have asked thousands of people from all walks of life over the years who are nearing retirement what they hope to do in retirement. They tell me: “I want to get some rest, exercise some more, visit with my family, go on a great vacation, read some great books.” Then most stall. Few have taken the time or effort to study the countless possibilities that await them or imagine or explore all of the incredible ways they can spend the next period of their lives.

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

— Carole

Thank you
To Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the break from the news. You can reach the team at

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