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Ashley Westerman

Clarisa Andres, a petite 22-year-old, hasn't been home in over a month. She's homesick, but she says she can cope.

She's an emergency medical technician with the San Juan Early Response Network – one of the few women on the 63-member team – and the pandemic has amped up their work of responding to medical emergencies. They work 24-hour shifts, 7 days a week and when they're on call, they live in a dorm with other health-care workers.

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The Philippines' Health Department says it will no longer allow local governments to announce which brand of coronavirus vaccines will be available at inoculation sites.

The move comes after hundreds of people this week lined up at a site in Manila when they found out the Pfizer vaccine would be given out there.

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On Monday, Australia and New Zealand launched their long-anticipated travel bubble that will allow residents of each country to visit the other without having to quarantine upon arrival.

Emotional videos capturing long-awaited reunions in arrival halls in various airports across Australia and New Zealand have been circulating online since the first passengers touched down. Thousands are reported to have made the journey across the Tasman Sea in the bubble's opening first day.

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On Thursday, Palau and Taiwan launched what is being touted as "Asia's first travel bubble," with an inaugural flight from Taipei landing at Palau International Airport just after 7:30 p.m. local time.

Palau has recorded zero cases of coronavirus infection, and Taiwan has kept the virus largely in check since the start of the pandemic.

Bethany Long Newman says she saw herself in the victims of last week's shooting outside of Atlanta, when a gunman rampaged through three spas and killed eight people. Of the eight victims, six were women of Asian descent.

"When I first heard about it, I was immediately scared," says Newman, 32, of Chicago. "You kind of put yourself in their shoes a bit and think: This would happen to me — or my daughter."

For the first time in over two decades, the Pacific island territory of New Caledonia has a government made up mostly of pro-independence politicians, a historic turnover that analysts say could edge it toward becoming independent from France.

As President Biden pushes to get U.S. schools fully open soon, an art exhibit aims to help people visualize what it means that they're closed.

This month's military coup in Myanmar has made an already dire situation for Rohingya refugees even worse, say human rights activists. Now, prospects are even more unlikely for hundreds of thousands to return to Myanmar from sprawling camps in neighboring Bangladesh.

"The coup is obviously good for no one," says Matthew Smith, cofounder of the human rights advocacy group Fortify Rights. "But for the Rohingya, the risk is heightened. This is the military regime responsible for the atrocities over many, many years."

Myanmar's economy could take a significant hit following this week's military coup, analysts say, as the U.S. mulls fresh sanctions and foreign investors appear rattled — potentially putting billions of dollars' worth of business investments at risk for the Southeast Asian country.

The Black Lives Matter movement became an international phenomenon in 2020. As protesters took to the streets in cities across the U.S. in the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd, a Black man in Minneapolis, Minn., so did demonstrators in other countries — all with a similar message: Black lives matter.

"There is a George Floyd in every country," South Africa-based journalist Lynsey Chutel tells NPR's David Greene during a recent roundtable interview.

Dr. Amir Khalil is no stranger to helping animals out of really bad situations. The 55-year-old Egyptian-born veterinarian, who works with the Vienna-based animal welfare group Four Paws International, has been rescuing animals from crumbling zoos and conflict zones such as Syria and the Gaza Strip for more than two decades.

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