U.S. Vice-Presidential Debate, New Zealand, Vladimir Putin: Your Thursday Briefing

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Good morning.

We’re covering the U.S. vice-presidential debate, New Zealand’s second elimination of the coronavirus and the golden age of newsletters.

On Wednesday, the country lifted the last restrictions in Auckland, its largest city, after 10 days with no new cases linked to a cluster that surfaced there in August. People are no longer required to wear masks in public but must continue to keep records of locations they visit, maintain good hygiene and, if unwell, stay home and get tested for the virus. The border remains closed to almost all foreign travelers.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who is facing an election on Oct. 17, said there was a 95 percent probability that New Zealand had eliminated local transmission of the virus.

The strategy: Ms. Ardern called it the “go hard and go early” approach, combining lockdown measures with a blitz of testing, contact tracing and quarantining.

Here are our latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other virus developments:

  • The World Bank warned on Wednesday that the pandemic could push more than 100 million people into extreme poverty this year, elevating the global poverty rate for the first time in more than two decades.

  • More than 40 percent of patients in intensive care units in the Paris region have Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, officials said, warning that local hospitals were coming under increasing strain from an influx of new cases.

  • Scotland will further tighten restrictions on its hospitality sector, closing pubs and canceling events around Glasgow, to avoid a second lockdown.

  • State governors in Germany agreed Wednesday to restrict domestic travelers from booking rooms in hotels or resorts if they are coming from a virus hot spot, unless they can present a negative test result.

“There is nothing good about these conflicts for Moscow,” said Konstantin Zatulin, a senior Russian lawmaker and Putin ally who specializes in relations with what Russians call their “near abroad.”

The spate of new challenges to Russian influence in countries like Belarus and Kyrgyzstan threatens Mr. Putin’s yearslong effort to cast himself as the leader who restored the great-power status lost with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Even as the Kremlin denied Russian interference in the 2016 American presidential election, state television gleefully reported on the American allegations as a sign that Moscow was being reckoned with again on the world stage.

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