Welcome to the weekend, though it might not feel very different to the other days of the week.

It's the country's second weekend in lockdown and we hope you're coping ok during this period.

To help you pass the time 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 lost month: How a failure to test blinded the US to Covid 19

The world's richest country — armed with some of the most highly trained scientists and infectious disease specialists — squandered its best chance of containing the spread of Coronavirus.

Instead, Americans were left largely blind to the scale of a looming public health catastrophe.

The New York Times looks at how technical flaws, regulatory hurdles and lapses in leadership let Covid-19 spread undetected for weeks.

A nurse questions a patient at a drive-thru coronavirus testing site at Ampla Health in Yuba City, California. Photo / Max Whittaker, The New York Times
A nurse questions a patient at a drive-thru coronavirus testing site at Ampla Health in Yuba City, California. Photo / Max Whittaker, The New York Times

Vicky Jones on life after Fleabag best friend Phoebe Waller‑Bridge

Vicky Jones is more comfortable in the background. She had got into theatre as a university student but was too shy to act. "Nobody recognises me," she says proudly. "For a long time I was the one who held [Phoebe Waller-Bridge's] coat while people took photos of her, and I was happy with the coat holding."

That is about to change as Jones has written her first TV drama series, Run which has been executive-produced by herself and Waller-Bridge. The romcom thriller will premiere next month and has already been tipped for an Emmy nomination.

Katie Glass of The Times chats with Jones.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Vicky Jones and the actress Tuppence Middleton (right) at Soho Theatre, 2018. Photo / Getty Images
Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Vicky Jones and the actress Tuppence Middleton (right) at Soho Theatre, 2018. Photo / Getty Images

They survived the Spanish flu, the Depression and the Holocaust

For most of us, it is almost impossible to comprehend the ferocity and regularity with which life was upended during the first half of the 20th century. Plague and conflict emerged on an epic scale, again and again. Loss and restriction were routine; disaster was its own season.

Naomi Replansky and Eva Kollisch however have endured it all.

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These two extraordinary women — one 101, the other 95 — lived through the worst of the 20th century.

They have some advice for you.

Just ask Eva Kollisch, left, and Naomi Replansky about survival and resilience. Photo / Mary-Elizabeth Gifford via the New York Times
Just ask Eva Kollisch, left, and Naomi Replansky about survival and resilience. Photo / Mary-Elizabeth Gifford via the New York Times

Animals, sex and guns? Director knew Tiger King had potential

When he set out to investigate the inner world of exotic animal breeders, Eric Goode had no idea he would end up making the hit Netflix series Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.

Released less than two weeks ago, the series is already a sensation, immersing viewers in the lives and rivalries of its vivid subjects.

Goode, who directed Tiger King with Rebecca Chaiklin, said that he had been reasonably confident the series would be successful.

He talks to the New York Times about the success of the show during the coronavirus pandemic.

Director Eric Goode, right, has had several conversations with Joe Exotic since the release of Tiger King. In brief,
Director Eric Goode, right, has had several conversations with Joe Exotic since the release of Tiger King. In brief, "Joe is thrilled," Goode said. Photo / Netflix

China, coronavirus and surveillance: The messy reality of personal data

To the outside world, China can often seem like a monolith, with edicts from Beijing ruthlessly implemented by the rest of the system. US officials regularly accuse the Chinese government of having access to all data held by companies in the country. Extensive coronavirus-related censorship — and punishment of whistleblowers — contributed to the spread of the virus and the public's inability to protect themselves.

The Financial Times looks at how efforts to track cases in China have been haphazard but technology companies face pressure to hand over information.

The Chinese Government used mobile data to pin the location of people during the outbreak. Photo / Getty Images
The Chinese Government used mobile data to pin the location of people during the outbreak. Photo / Getty Images

'How I was cured of HIV': Adam Castillejo's extraordinary story

In March last year a British doctor made his way to a conference in Seattle with some extraordinary news. His patient, a 40-year-old man with HIV, had undergone a bone marrow transplant that had removed the virus from his body. The London Patient, as he was known, became the second person in the world to be cured of HIV.

That man was Adam Castillejo.

He and his doctors tell Rosie Kinchen of The Times the extraordinary story.

Adam Castillejo underwent a bone marrow transplant that removed the virus from his body. Photo / Andrew Testa, The New York Times
Adam Castillejo underwent a bone marrow transplant that removed the virus from his body. Photo / Andrew Testa, The New York Times

Why the global recession could last a long time

The world is almost certainly ensnared in a devastating recession delivered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Now, fears are growing that the downturn could be far more punishing and long lasting than initially feared — potentially enduring into next year, and even beyond — as governments intensify restrictions on business to halt the spread of the pandemic, and as fear of the virus reconfigures the very concept of public space, impeding consumer-led economic growth.

The New York Times reports.

A nearly empty St. Peter's Square in Vatican City. Photo / Nadia Shira Cohen, The New York Times
A nearly empty St. Peter's Square in Vatican City. Photo / Nadia Shira Cohen, The New York Times

Rich kids: Inside London's mos fashionable family club

Its annual membership costs five times more than Soho House. Fans include Victoria Beckham. And there's a waiting list, obviously. From music rooms and soft-play zones to celebrity parents, Jessie Hewitson and her four-year-old, Morgan, spend a day at Purple Dragon, the country's most fashionable 'family club.

Hewitson shares her experience.

Kids in the kitchen at the Purple Dragon in Chelsea, London. Photo / @prupledragonplay
Kids in the kitchen at the Purple Dragon in Chelsea, London. Photo / @prupledragonplay

Egypt's female lion tamers show the men how to do it

The struggle for women's equality is lagging badly behind in Egypt, where only 25 per cent of women are in the labour force. Egypt ranks 134 out of 153 in the Global Gender Gap, an index published by the World Economic Forum. But in one field, Egyptian women are dominant - lion taming.

The New York Times looks at the six women dominating the field of lion taming in Egypt.

Luba el-Helw is one of six female lion tamers currently working in Egypt. Photo / Heba Khamis, The New York Time
Luba el-Helw is one of six female lion tamers currently working in Egypt. Photo / Heba Khamis, The New York Time

Doctor, refugee. Violinist, refugee. Model, refugee

When an earthquake, war or social upheaval drives you across a border and into the unknown, you learn the hard lesson of the refugee: You didn't just lose a home, a job, a country. You may also have lost your identity.

With refugees around the world now estimated at around 25 million, this lesson is being driven home for a record number of people.

In recent interviews, five Venezuelans spoke at length about what they had left behind, what they had managed to carry with them, and what feels lost forever.

Uprooted Venezuelans crossing the mountains of Colombia. Photo / Federico Rios Escobar, The New York Times
Uprooted Venezuelans crossing the mountains of Colombia. Photo / Federico Rios Escobar, The New York Times

Long-silenced victim of a paedophile writer gets to tell her story

In her telling, Francesca Gee was out with a girlfriend, a late autumn day in Paris in 1983, when they spotted a new bookstore. As they lingered before the storefront, her friend suddenly pointed to the bottom of the window.

"Look, it's you!"

Gee's face was staring back at her from the cover of a novel, Drunk on Lost Wine, by Gabriel Matzneff, the writer and champion of paedophilia.

A decade earlier, at 15, Gee, had gotten involved in a traumatic three-year relationship with the much older Matzneff. Now, he was using her teenage face on his novel's cover, and her letters in its pages, without having asked her or even informing her, she said.

For decades, the writer Gabriel Matzneff used Francesca Gee's image and letters to champion his sexual pursuit of adolescents. But her own account was rejected, until now.

Francesca Gee at a cafe in Paris where she used to go with Gabriel Matzneff decades ago. Photo / Andrea Mantovani, The New York Times
Francesca Gee at a cafe in Paris where she used to go with Gabriel Matzneff decades ago. Photo / Andrea Mantovani, The New York Times