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Coronavirus, Iowa, Brexit: Your Tuesday Briefing

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Good morning.

We’re covering the risks of China’s top-down approach to the coronavirus outbreak, reporting delays at the Iowa caucuses and a Canadian city that sees itself as rather English.

Chinese leaders on Monday called the coronavirus epidemic “a major test of China’s system and capacity for governance,” as confirmed infections surge by more than 2,000 daily and the outbreak unnerves the global economy.

The announcement by the Communist Party leadership came as the government was applying familiar authoritarian techniques — like asking neighbors to inform on one another — to help control an outbreak that had killed 427 people as of this morning, all but two in mainland China.

Many people from Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, are desperate for treatment, but the government’s approach has led many to be ostracized. Experts warn that the approach could further damage public trust across China, and send people who should be screened and monitored deeper underground.

Context: The death toll from the new coronavirus has exceeded that of the SARS outbreak in 2002 and 2003 in mainland China — and the impacts on the global economy may prove more severe. Still, the number of people who have recovered nationwide has been rising, suggesting that the new virus’s fatality rate is relatively low.

Hong Kong: The semiautonomous Chinese city, which recorded its first death from the outbreak today, shut all but three of its border checkpoints on Monday. But more than 2,500 medical workers went on strike to demand a fully closed border.

Map: The disease has been detected in every Chinese province and in least 23 other countries. Most cases involve people who traveled from China.

In Beijing: The Chinese capital, population 23 million, is not under a government-ordered lockdown, our Beijing bureau chief reports. But that’s essentially what it looks like.

The race to unseat President Trump in November was thrown into confusion on Monday, as the Iowa Democratic Party failed for hours to report the results of the state’s first-in-the-nation nominating contest. Here’s the latest.

As of midnight in Iowa, or 6 a.m. Tuesday in London, the results were delayed because of what Democratic Party officials called a “quality control” effort before they were made public. A party spokeswoman said there was no issue with the integrity of the vote.

Why Iowa matters: Winning the state’s nominating contest typically gives a Democratic candidate fairly decent odds of eventually capturing the Democratic nomination, if not the White House. Whoever is declared the winner will become the candidate to beat when New Hampshire holds its primary on Feb. 11.

Catch up: Our reporters covered the contest in real time, and looked into why the results were delayed. Here’s why the contest, known as the Iowa caucuses, is unlike any other political event in America.

Britain and the European Union on Monday staked out tough opening positions on trade negotiations, highlighting how Brexit is making them into economic competitors.

Europe’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, insisted from Brussels that Britain commit to preventing unfair competition if it wants access to the E.U. market without tariffs and quotas.

But in a riposte from London, Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain threatened to walk away from talks on a free-trade agreement if the bloc tries to tie his country too closely to its rules as a price.

Key questions: Will Britain open its extensive territorial waters to European fishing fleets? And will it continue to abide by E.U. rules on labor rights, environmental standards and antitrust rules?

Looking ahead: Few expect serious progress in talks to be made until the fall, and many trade experts see Mr. Johnson’s timeline — wrapping up the talks by the end of the year — as breathtakingly optimistic.

“Brexodus”: For British officials who worked for years in Brussels, saying goodbye was a little awkward.

Beauty and color in Iraq were suppressed for decades by poverty and government oppression or indifference.

No longer: A 15-story shell of a structure in Baghdad is full of paintings, sculptures, photographs and shrines that criticize the country’s leadership and pay homage to protesters who have died in recent antigovernment demonstrations.

In memoriam: Mike Hoare, an Irish soldier of fortune who led white mercenary forces in Africa and was called “Mad Mike” for his recklessness under fire, died on Sunday in South Africa. He was 100.

What we’re reading: This piece from The Chronicle Review. “It poses an interesting question for academics,” Lynda Richardson, a Travel editor, writes. “Is unending email making professors stupid? Perhaps something for us all to ponder.”

Cook: With homemade hamburger helper, you don’t have to be a stickler about measurements or ingredients. (Our Five Weeknight Dishes newsletter has more recommendations.)

Read: Tyll,” Daniel Kehlmann’s eighth novel, plops a 14th-century jester into the Thirty Years’ War.

Smarter Living: These seven podcasts can help you nurture a healthier mind and body.

Sydney Ember, a reporter on our politics team, moved to Iowa to get to know the state ahead of the caucuses. She wrote about her experiences for our Reader Center. This is a condensed version.

DES MOINES — I was in a tree.

It was November and I had been in Iowa for less than a month, and set out to profile someone who brings Iowa to life for our readers. Rob Sand, the state auditor, pitched himself as a subject — and then took me bowhunting for deer.

My goal was to understand the people of Iowa and the issues they care about, in addition to the presidential candidates spending time and resources in the state and the web of volunteers, staff members and strategists who help them.

I spent many days at campaign events in high school gymnasiums and college auditoriums and senior centers, analyzing the candidates’ messages and talking to voters.

I learned that many Democrats here want above all to beat President Trump — a desire that made it extraordinarily difficult for them to choose a candidate. Some Republicans and independents wanted that, too.

I learned that cars with all-wheel drive can still fishtail in the snow and that pizza from Casey’s General Store is delicious. (But no, I did not try the breakfast pizza, a particularly polarizing Iowa delicacy.)

It might be more practical, and less expensive, for The Times and other news organizations not to move reporters out to Iowa before the caucuses. But there is no substitute for spending a lot of time here, talking to Iowans every day and experiencing the all-consuming nature of the run-up to the state’s caucuses firsthand.

That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.

— Mike

Thank you
To Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford for the break from the news.You can reach the team at briefing@nytimes.com.

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about the Iowa caucuses.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword puzzle, and a clue: Ethnic group making up more than 90% of China (three letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Hanna Ingber, who started The Times’s Reader Center in 2017, will be the editor of our new technology newsletter.

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