Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
International haj pilgrims barred
Saudi Arabia said on Monday it would bar arrivals from abroad for the haj this year due to the coronavirus, making this the first year in modern times that Muslims from around the world have not been allowed to make the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, a tenet which all Muslims aim to perform at least once.
Some 2.5 million pilgrims typically visit the holiest sites of Islam in Mecca and Medina for the week-long haj. Official data shows Saudi Arabia earns around $12 billion a year from the haj and the lesser, year-round pilgrimage known as umrah. International arrivals for umrah pilgrimages have also been suspended until further notice.
Ceramic used in spine implants inactivates coronavirus
Silicon nitride, a ceramic often used in spinal implants because it kills bacteria by releasing disinfectant chemicals from its surface, can also inactivate the new coronavirus, according to a new study done in Japan, which has not yet been peer reviewed.
“Further studies are needed to validate these findings and investigate whether silicon nitride can be incorporated into personal protective equipment and commonly touched surfaces, as a strategy to discourage viral persistence and disease spread,” the researchers said.
Shares of ceramics company SiNtx Technologies Inc, which makes the silicon nitride powder, jumped 170% on the report.
Fashion labels rethink approach to catwalks
French luxury label Christian Dior said on Monday it would press ahead with a calendar of fashion shows for this year starting in July with an Italian catwalk display – but without the celebrated front-row audience of A-listers.
The coronavirus crisis has accelerated a rethink among high-end brands of how collections are presented, with some opting out of costly events and restricting the number of clothing ranges they produce.
Playing to the plants
Barcelona’s Liceu opera house reopened its doors on Monday for the first time in over three months to hold a concert exclusively for a quiet, leafy audience of nearly 2,300 house plants. Organisers said the intention was to reflect on the absurdity of the human condition in the era of the coronavirus, which deprives people of their position as spectators.
The six-minute “Concert for the Biocene” featured a string quartet playing Italian composer Giacomo Puccini’s “Chrysanthemum”, chosen for its requiem-like sadness. Both before and after the six-minute performance, the four elegantly dressed musicians respectfully bowed to the “audience”.