Editor’s Note: This listicle is part of a weekly series by The Ball State Daily News summarizing five stories from around the world. All summaries are based on stories published by The Associated Press.
Italy's pandemic death toll grows to the largest in Europe, hundreds of students in Nigeria are still missing after a school attack, Barcelona begins a study on the effectiveness of same-day COVID-19 antigen tests, Argentina's lower house voted to legalize abortion and Russia successfully test-launched a heavy lift rocket make up this week's five international stories.
Italy on Dec. 13 eclipsed Britain to become the nation with the worst official coronavirus death toll in Europe. Italy, where the continent’s pandemic began, registered 484 COVID-19 deaths in one day, one of its lowest one-day death counts in about a month, but those latest deaths pushed its total pandemic fatalities to 64,520. Among the reasons cited for Italy’s high death toll was it that was the first country in Europe to be slammed in the pandemic, leaving health workers to grapple with a largely unknown virus. Italy also has a lower ratio of medical staff to patients compared to other European nations.
Hundreds of Nigerian students are missing after gunmen attacked a secondary school in the country’s northwestern Katsina state, police said, while the president said the military was in gunfights with bandits in a forest as it tried to find the students. The Government Science Secondary School in Kankara was attacked Friday night by a large group of bandits who shot “with AK-47 rifles,” Katsina State police spokesman Gambo Isah said in a statement. About 400 students are missing, while 200 are accounted for, Isah said. The school is believed to have had more than 600 students.
Eager for a live music show after months of social distancing, more than 1,000 Barcelona residents gathered Dec.12 to participate in a medical study to evaluate the effectiveness of same-day coronavirus screening to safely hold cultural events. After passing an antigen screening, 500 of the volunteers were randomly selected to enjoy a free concert inside Barcelona’s Apolo Theater. The other 500 who didn’t get selected were sent home and they will form a control group that will allow the organizers to analyze if there was any contagion inside the concert hall despite the screening with antigen tests.
Lawmakers in Argentina’s lower house on Dec. 11 passed a bill that would legalize elective abortions to the 14th week of pregnancy, a proposal from President Alberto Fernández in response to long-sought demands from women’s rights activists. The bill still needs approval from the country’s Senate in a debate expected before the end of the year. Demonstrators in favor of decriminalizing abortion, who had spent the night outside the congress building in Buenos Aires, erupted with joy and embraced each other as they listened to the parliamentary speaker reading the vote’s results on screens.
Russia on Dec. 14 successfully test-launched its heavy lift Angara A5 space rocket for the second time, the country’s military and space officials said. The rocket lifted off Monday morning from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in northwest Russia. Its first successful test launch took place in 2014 and was hailed by Russian President Vladimir Putin as “a major achievement for our space rocket industry and for Russia in general.” Angara A5 is designed to replace the Proton M heavy lift rocket, but its development and manufacturing has been plagued by delays and technical problems.