As more than half the people in the world hunker down under some form of enforced confinement, stirrings of political and social unrest are pointing to a new, potentially turbulent phase in the global effort to stem the coronavirus pandemic.
Already, protests spurred by the collapse of economic activity have erupted in scattered locations around the world. Tens of thousands of migrant laborers stranded without work or a way home staged demonstrations last week in the Indian city of Mumbai, crowding together in defiance of social distancing rules.
For now, fears of infection are keeping most people indoors. Strict controls imposed by governments and security forces deter the kind of organized protests that were sweeping the world from Hong Kong to Chile before the pandemic struck. The health crisis has come as a boon for some authoritarian leaders, empowering them to introduce the kind of controls on their citizens they could only have dreamed of before the spread of covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
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