Australia, Portugal act to rein in coronavirus cases; Djokovic tests positive


The Atlantic Council’s Coronavirus Alert is a regular summary of policy, economic, and business events around the emergency. To stay updated, sign up to the Coronavirus Alert here.

In top stories today:

  • Officials from Australia to Portugal and Spain took measures to contain new cases of coronavirus, while infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci called for vigilance in the United States. Tennis star Novak Djokovic and his wife tested positive following an unofficial tennis event.
  • Spikes in coronavirus cases have prompted officials from Australia to Portugal to launch or expand strict containment measures, in sharp contrast to the US approach, The Washington Post reported. Portugal restricted mass gatherings and Australia’s Victoria state closed several schools again; Germany imposed a new lockdown in a part of the northwest to contain an outbreak linked to an abattoir while an area of northeast Spain restarted restrictions, the newspaper added. New Zealand, with ten confirmed cases, tightened border controls, the Post added.
  • As the European Union hurries to agree who is admissible from July 1 based on the epidemic in countries of origin, Americans remain barred because the United States has failed to control the spread, The New York Times reported, citing draft plans it has seen. The coming weeks are vital to damp down a surge in new cases, infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci told Congress on June 23, urging people to avoid crowds and wear masks, The Associated Press reported.
  • Health leaders are calling on the UK government to hold an urgent cross-party review to determine if the country is prepared for the “real risk” of a second wave of coronavirus, the BBC reported, citing an open letter in the British Medical Journal signed by the presidents of the Royal Colleges of Surgeons, Nursing, Physicians, and General Practitioners. On June 23 Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a wide-scale easing of restrictions in England starting on July 4.


  • French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet near Berlin on June 29 to discuss efforts to reach a deal on a 750 billion euro coronavirus stimulus package, Bloomberg reported, citing a statement from the French government.
  • QUOTE: “The lesson from the crisis is to be better prepared,” Martin Wolf wrote in an editorial with the headline “The dangerous war on supply chains” in the Financial Times. “Self-sufficiency in ‘essential products’ would not be a good way to achieve this. On the contrary, it would be a costly error.”
  • A complicated ecosystem of debt funds called collateralized loan obligations (CLOs) is now struggling after coronavirus hit companies that had taken on a raft of debt following years of low interest rates and easing lending criteria, The Wall Street Journal reported. Banks, insurers, and other investors buy CLOs, which bundle risky corporate loans and turn them into bonds, the newspaper explained.
  • “Don’t get too excited by solid euro zone data, ECB’s Lane says,” reads a Reuters headline, dampening down expectations after a surprisingly strong set of figures, the newswire said.  
  • QUOTE: “Income losses and precautionary savings continue to weigh on consumption,” said Philip Lane, European Central Bank chief economist, Reuters reported. “Likewise, weak demand, continued supply constraints, and ongoing social distancing restrictions are hampering the normalization of economic activity.”


  • Pollution levels have rebounded in European cities including Paris, Brussels, and Milan as traffic and congestion increased following the easing of coronavirus lockdowns, the Financial Times reported, citing data from the European Environment Agency. The environmental benefits of lockdown were short-lived as commuters avoid public transit and travel by car instead, the newspaper added.
  • “Plastic keeps virus, not love away from Spain nursing home” reads an Associated Press headline. Residents and their loved ones are able to hug, in many cases after more than three months of separation, thanks to thin layers of plastic, face masks, and medical gloves worn beyond the elbow, a photo by the news service shows.
  • Latin America accounted for almost half of deaths from the pandemic in the past two weeks, with more than two million cases and 100,000 deaths since the outbreak first began, The Wall Street Journal reported. The region’s experience is a sign of what may follow in India and other developing countries, infectious-disease experts caution, as fatalities fall in much of the developed world, the Journal added.
  • EVENT: Join us as an expert panel discusses the future of advanced battery technologies and energy storage in the context of the clean energy transition, geopolitics, and coronavirus. The event will take place at 11:00 am ET on Wednesday, June 24. Details are here.
  • READ MORE: “The United States has long been the principal provider of leadership, organization, and forces that ensure freedom of navigation in the Gulf,” write the Atlantic Council’s Richard LeBaron and John Miller. “However, over time, it should play more of a supporting role with the Gulf states themselves providing more leadership and most, if not all of the forces.”


  • The Indian government called in the army to manage additional treatment centers with thousands of extra beds in New Delhi, the country’s sprawling capital of 20 million people, Reuters reported. India reported a record 16,000 new cases on June 24—including 3,900 in the capital, also a one-day record—the newswire added.
  • It’s possible that Brazil will be the worst-hit country in the world when coronavirus eventually recedes, Bloomberg Businessweek reported. Local officials are lifting quarantines even though cases continue to rise in number, the news outlet reported. Even if nationwide rules on social distancing had been issued, that would have been impossible to enforce in a country of 210 million and where some states have a larger land area than France, Bloomberg Businessweek added.
  • QUOTE: “The government missed an early opportunity when they didn’t do enough to track contagion or isolate returning travelers in the richer northeastern suburbs [of Santiago]—and then relaxed the lockdowns too quickly,” said Ximena Aguilera, an epidemiologist who is on Chile’s coronavirus advisory committee, The Washington Post reported.
  • Millions of women and babies in poor countries are at risk as the coronavirus pandemic disrupts health services ranging from newborn and maternity care to vaccines and contraception, Reuters reported, citing an exclusive interview with Monique Vledder, head of secretariat at the World Bank’s Global Financing Facility.
  • Coronavirus data show a marked discrepancy in countries including Somalia and Afghanistan between infections in men and women, raising concerns that women lack access to healthcare and testing, The Associated Press reported, citing the International Rescue Committee (IRC), an international aid group.
  • The statistics say… In Somalia and Afghanistan, 72 percent of coronavirus cases are male and 28 percent of cases are female; while in Yemen, the figure is 75 percent for males; and in Pakistan and Chad, the figure is 74 percent. The global split between cases in men and women is roughly fifty-fifty, The Associated Press said.
  • QUOTE: “[W]hile men in these places have more freedom of movement and tend to be out in the community socializing more, many go home to women,” The Associated Press cited Stacey Mearns, an IRC emergency health advisor, as saying. “Also, women are usually caretakers of the sick and elderly in these cultures and therefore exposed to COVID-19.”
  • The coronavirus pandemic may lead to at least 110,000 extra deaths from tuberculosis (TB) in China, India, and South Africa, which between them make up 40 percent of global TB cases, Bloomberg reported, citing research published in the European Respiratory Journal.
  • Top-seeded tennis player Novak Djokovic tested positive for coronavirus after hosting a tennis tournament across Eastern Europe in which there seemed to be no social distancing, Sky News reported. His wife Jelena also tested positive, joining three other tennis players and two coaches infected by the virus at the end of an unofficial charity tour, The Guardian reported.