Welcome to the weekend. It will be a quiet one for all of us as we face our first weekend in lockdown.

It's an uncertain time for all as we adapt to a new way of life for a while. Board games will be getting dusted off and puzzles pulled out from the cupboards as we find ways to pass the time in our bubbles.

To help you get through the weekend we've pulled together some of the best pieces from our premium international syndicators this week. There's a mix of Covid-19 content for those wanting more information, and content on a range of other topics for those looking for a break from the virus.

Happy reading.

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The great empty

Cafes along the Navigli in Milan hunker behind shutters along with the Milanese who used to sip aperos beside the canal. New York's Times Square is a ghost town, as are the City of London and the Place de la Concorde in Paris during what used to be the morning rush.

Photographs all tell a similar story: a temple in Indonesia; Haneda Airport in Tokyo; the Americana Diner in New Jersey. Emptiness proliferates like the virus.

These images from New York Times photographers are haunted and haunting, but in some ways they are hopeful.
ALSO READ:Photos from a century of epidemics

Rush hour in London. Photo / Andrew Testa, The New York Times
Rush hour in London. Photo / Andrew Testa, The New York Times

Jake Fiennes on the future of farming after Brexit

Two of his brothers, Ralph and Joseph, are already household names, but Jake Fiennes is an unlikely star of British farming.

On an estate in Norfolk, he's rewriting the post-Brexit rule book: how to work the land and protect the environment at the same time.

Robert Crampton of The Times meets him.

British gamekeeper Jacob 'Jake' Fiennes, brother of English actor, film producer and director Ralph Fiennes, on the Raveningham Hall Estate. Photo / Getty Images
British gamekeeper Jacob 'Jake' Fiennes, brother of English actor, film producer and director Ralph Fiennes, on the Raveningham Hall Estate. Photo / Getty Images

Harsh steps needed to stop coronavirus

Terrifying though the coronavirus may be, it can be turned back. China, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan have demonstrated that, with furious efforts, the contagion can be brought to heel.

Scientists who have fought pandemics describe difficult measures needed to defence against a fast-moving pathogen.

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Donald G. McNeil Jr. of The New York Times reports.
ALSO READ:Can you become immune to the coronavirus?
Lost sense of smell may be peculiar clue to coronavirus infection

A beach stroller in the Coney Island neighbourhood of Brooklyn on Saturday. Photo / Victor J. Blue, The New York Times
A beach stroller in the Coney Island neighbourhood of Brooklyn on Saturday. Photo / Victor J. Blue, The New York Times

Diane Keaton opens up about troubled brother: 'I was a jerk'

She is the Oscar-winning actress who has dated three of the world's most famous leading men. But it's Diane Keaton's relationship with her troubled, alcoholic brother, Randy, that has dominated her life.

Julia Llewellyn Smith of The Times interviews the Hollywood star.

Diane Keaton at Dolby Theatre in 2017. Photo / Getty Images
Diane Keaton at Dolby Theatre in 2017. Photo / Getty Images

How South Korea flattened the curve

The early signs in South Korea were alarming. In late February and early March, the number of new coronavirus infections exploded from a few dozen, to a few hundred, to several thousand.

At the peak, medical workers identified 909 new cases in a single day, February 29, and the country of 50 million people appeared on the verge of being overwhelmed. But less than a week later, the number of new cases halved. Within four days, it halved again — and again the next day.

The New York Times looks at how while South Korea showed that it is possible to contain the coronavirus without shutting down the economy, experts are unsure whether its lessons can work abroad.
ALSO READ: • Italy, pandemic's new epicentre, has lessons for the world
Japan's virus success has puzzled the world. Is its luck running out?

A person watches the sunset in Seoul. South Korea showed that it is possible to contain the coronavirus without shutting down the economy. Photo / Woohae Cho, The New York Times
A person watches the sunset in Seoul. South Korea showed that it is possible to contain the coronavirus without shutting down the economy. Photo / Woohae Cho, The New York Times

They ordered her to be a suicide bomber. She had another idea

The six young women set down their bombs and stood around the well, staring into the dark void.

As captives of Boko Haram, the women had been dispatched for the grimmest of missions: go blow up a mosque and everyone inside.

The women wanted to get rid of their bombs without killing anyone. They removed their headscarves and tied them into a long rope, attached the bombs and gingerly lowered them into the well, praying it was filled with water.

Hundreds of women in Nigeria have been recruited by Boko Haram as suicide bombers, but some managed to outsmart the terrorist group.

The New York Times shares one woman's story.

How this young woman outsmarted the Boko Haram militants who kidnapped her and ordered her to carry out suicide bombings. Photo / Laura Boschnak, The New York Times
How this young woman outsmarted the Boko Haram militants who kidnapped her and ordered her to carry out suicide bombings. Photo / Laura Boschnak, The New York Times

15 questions about remote work, answered

The coronavirus pandemic is expected to fundamentally change the way many organisations operate for the foreseeable future. As we go into lockdown remote work is our new reality. How do corporate leaders, managers and individual workers make this sudden shift?

The Harvard Business Review offers guidance on how to work productively at home, manage virtual meetings and lead teams through this time of crisis.
ALSO READ:The dos and don'ts of online video meetings

Coronavirus has change the way many organisations operate for the foreseeable future. Photo / 123RF
Coronavirus has change the way many organisations operate for the foreseeable future. Photo / 123RF

Racial divide' in speech-recognition systems

With an iPhone, you can dictate a text message. Put Amazon's Alexa on your coffee table, and you can request a song from across the room.

But these devices may understand some voices better than others. Speech recognition systems from five of the world's biggest tech companies make far fewer errors with users who are white than with users who are black, according to a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Cade Metz of The New York Times reports.

Amazon's Echo device is one of many similar gadgets on the market. Researchers say there is a racial divide in the usefulness of speech recognition systems. Photo / Grant Hindsley, The New York Times
Amazon's Echo device is one of many similar gadgets on the market. Researchers say there is a racial divide in the usefulness of speech recognition systems. Photo / Grant Hindsley, The New York Times

Olympians have another year to prepare. It's a blessing and a curse

For days, athletes had been voicing concerns about the 2020 Tokyo Games, worrying that they were jeopardising their health and the health of others if they continued training while many of their countries were locked down and restricting activity.

Yet when the news finally came, it was the ultimate mixed blessing: a lifeline for some and a new set of challenges that may be insurmountable because of financial, age or health issues for others.

The New York Times looks at the challenges of postponing the Games.

Countdown clocks for the Tokyo Games will gain another year. Photo / Noriko Hayashi, The New York Times
Countdown clocks for the Tokyo Games will gain another year. Photo / Noriko Hayashi, The New York Times

Nearly a million kids left behind in Venezuela as parents migrate

In their final minutes together, Jean Carlos, 8, held his mother's hand like an anchor and promised to "take deep breaths" so he wouldn't cry. His sister, Crisol, 10, hid angrily in the kitchen. His brother, Cristian, 12, hauled a blue suitcase into the yard.

Past the family gate, Aura Fernández, 38, a single mother of 10, beat back a surge of tears. Her bus came rolling down the road. Then she kissed her children, climbed aboard and disappeared.

Seven years into an economic crisis, mothers and fathers have been forced to go abroad in search of work, leaving hundreds of thousands of children in the hands of relatives, friends — and sometimes, one another.

The New York Times reports.

Aura Fernández's children in their shared bedroom in Maracaibo, Venezuela, missing their mother days after she left to go work in Colombia. Photo / Meridith Kohut, The New York Times
Aura Fernández's children in their shared bedroom in Maracaibo, Venezuela, missing their mother days after she left to go work in Colombia. Photo / Meridith Kohut, The New York Times

Grieving the losses of coronavirus

When it comes to the coronavirus outbreak, what's the word related to mental health that you hear most? If you said "anxiety," you're not alone. But if you were to sit (virtually, of course) in a therapist's office, what you might hear just as often is the word "loss."

This may seem obvious, because many people are experiencing tremendous loss as a result of this global pandemic: loss of life, loss of loved ones, loss of health, loss of jobs and income. But what might be less obvious are the smaller losses that also affect our emotional health.

The New York Times looks at how we are also grieving the losses of weddings, sports and the ability to buy eggs or get a haircut.
ALSO READ:Take steps to counter the loneliness of social distancing
Some tips on how to stay sane in a world that isn't

Many people are experiencing tremendous loss as a result of this global pandemic. Photo / 123RF
Many people are experiencing tremendous loss as a result of this global pandemic. Photo / 123RF