Beijing steps up measures to contain coronavirus outbreak; UK jobs hit


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:

  • Beijing stepped up measures to control a coronavirus outbreak in the Chinese capital, with financial hub Shanghai calling for quarantine of some travelers from the city. The coronavirus crisis took its toll on UK jobs, although economists said the full effect is some months off.
  • Beijing officials curbed public transport and banned high-risk people from leaving the Chinese capital to stop the most serious outbreak of coronavirus since February, Reuters reported. An additional twenty-seven cases took the city’s current outbreak to 106 since June 11, the newswire added. Financial hub Shanghai demanded that some travelers from Beijing be quarantined for two weeks, Reuters said. “Beijing was on guard against the rest of China. Now it’s the other way around,” The New York Times reported.
  • US President Donald J. Trump’s administration is preparing a one trillion dollar infrastructure plan to include roads, bridges, rural broadband, and 5G wireless infrastructure to help revive the world’s biggest economy, hit by coronavirus lockdowns, Bloomberg reported, citing unidentified people familiar with the proposal.  Democrats have put forward a $500 billion infrastructure plan over five years, the newswire added.  
  • READ MORE: “Among its many lessons, COVID-19 has taught us that in preparation for an uncertain future, we must devise ways to create a healthier, more inclusive, and resilient future for all,” writes Kathy Baughman McLeod, director of the Adrienne Arsht Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center at the Atlantic Council.
  • Three months after much of the world went into lockdown, Brazil, India, Russia, and the United States are reporting the highest daily number of coronavirus cases, The Washington Post reported. New clusters have emerged in Israel, Iran, South Korea, and China, the newspaper said. More than 100,000 new cases are reported every day worldwide, the World Health Organization said, CNBC reported.
  • New Zealand recorded two new cases of coronavirus: two women from the same family who were allowed to travel from the United Kingdom to visit a grieving parent, the BBC reported. That ended a twenty-four-day run of no new infections in the country, the BBC said.
  • Coronavirus infections among US prison inmates have more than doubled to above 65,000 in the past month, The New York Times reported. The death tally has surged too, up by 73 percent since mid-May, topping 600, the newspaper said. The country’s five biggest clusters of cases are inside correctional institutions, not in nursing homes or meatpacking facilities, the Times added.
  • “A warning from South Korea: the ‘fantasy’ of returning to normal life” reads the headline to a long-form article in the Financial Times. The country’s difficulties in controlling new outbreaks of the virus show that it’s critical to be nimble and vigilant while restarting economies, the newspaper said.
  • QUOTE: “Coronavirus is constantly attacking society’s vulnerable classes and spaces,” said Park Won-soon, the mayor of Seoul, the Financial Times reported. “We must shake off the fantasy that we can go back to the past we were accustomed to.”


  • More than 600,000 UK workers lost their jobs between March and May, taking the number of claimants of work-related benefits to 2.8 million, the BBC reported. Economists say the full effect will not be felt until October when wage-support programs end, the broadcaster added. Nearly nine million workers have been furloughed in the United Kingdom because of coronavirus lockdowns, the BBC reported.
  • “Europe’s young feel chill of frozen labour market” reads the headline to an analysis piece in the Financial Times. Graduates face the toughest situation in southern European countries such as France, Italy, Spain, and Greece, where youth unemployment was way above the European Union average even before the coronavirus pandemic, the newspaper said.
  • The International Energy Agency (IEA) sees signs the market could reach “a more stable footing” in the coming months even though it expects the drop in demand for oil this year to be the biggest in history as demand evaporated during the coronavirus crisis, CNBC reported. Demand is expected to fall by 8.1 million barrels a day this year before growing by 5.7 million barrels a day in 2021, CNBC added, citing the IEA’s oil market report.
  • QUOTE: “If recent trends in production are maintained and demand does recover, the market will be on a more stable footing by the end of the second half,” the IEA said, CNBC reported. “However, we should not underestimate the enormous uncertainties.”
  • Sweden’s economy looks set to have been more resilient to the effects of coronavirus than economies in other countries, Bloomberg reported, citing data from Capital Economics released on June 15, which said economic output will decline by 8 percent from peak to trough, compared with a range of 25 percent to 30 percent for the United Kingdom and Italy. “Swiss Flag Financial Risk With Economy in Deepest Dive Since 70s” reads another Bloomberg headline, while in Turkey consumers hold back on spending, making for a weak rebound for the country’s $750 billion economy, the newswire said in a separate article.
  • “Sunshine, espressos, shopping as Europe opens up” runs the headline to an Associated Press photo story. Many restrictions are still in place: neighboring Swedes still aren’t allowed into Norway or Denmark because they deem Sweden’s rate of infection too high, while the continent remains closed to travelers from the United States, Asia, and other destinations worldwide, the news service added.
  • QUOTE: French citizens should “rediscover the art of living” and their “taste for freedom,” said President Emmanuel Macron, The Associated Press reported.
  • US advertising spending is forecast to drop by 13 percent this year, the latest sign of the toll coronavirus is taking on the economy, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing GroupM, the world’s largest ad buyer. Taking this year’s presidential election, usually a boon time for advertisers, into account pares the decline to 8 percent, GroupM said. The forecasts compare with a 16 percent decline in ad spending in 2009 following the financial crisis, the newspaper added.
  • “Boris Johnson still promising to get Brexit done, even amid pandemic and economic collapse” runs a headline in The Washington Post. Pollsters say most Britons care much more about the economic crisis and coronavirus, but Brexit is still a big deal for the prime minister, the newspaper added. After video talks with European officials on June 15, he said a deal is possible by July with “a bit of oomph,” The Washington Post reported.


  • French drugmaker Sanofi plans to invest almost $680 million in two facilities in France to produce and research vaccines, including against coronavirus, CNBC reported.
  • QUOTE: “It is our responsibility to focus our resources and expertise against the current pandemic, but also to invest in preparing for future ones,” said Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson, CNBC reported.
  • Efficacy data for Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine, which is in second-stage trials, could be ready by Thanksgiving if all goes well, Bloomberg reported, citing a Bloomberg Television interview with Chief Executive Officer Stephane Bancel. Final-stage trials on 30,000 people are scheduled to begin in July, Bloomberg added.
  • China National Biotec Group’s (CNBG) experimental coronavirus shot has triggered high-level antibodies without adverse side effects during clinical trials, Reuters said, citing preliminary data from CNBG’s trial on 1,120 healthy people. The company plans late-stage human trials overseas, the newswire added.
  • The security and privacy of users of contact-tracing apps in Kuwait and Bahrain have been put at risk, Amnesty International said, urging the Gulf states to halt using them in their current form, the BBC reported. The apps are among the most invasive in the world, Amnesty said. Norway has stopped the roll-out of its app because of similar concerns, the BBC added.
  • Scientists from Imperial College London will start to give three hundred healthy people two shots of an experimental coronavirus vaccine this week, The Associated Press reported, citing the UK government, which has backed the vaccine candidate with forty-one million pounds of funding. It’s only been tested so far on animals and in the laboratory, the news service added.
  • The US Food and Drug Administration withdrew its emergency-use approval for chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as treatments for coronavirus, saying that “it is no longer reasonable to believe” the malaria drugs are effective, The Wall Street Journal reported. Trump praised the two drugs and took hydroxychloroquine as a preventative measure, the Journal added.


  • “Cuba Is Exporting Doctors to Make Up for Lost Tourism Revenue,” reads a Bloomberg headline, reporting about fifty Cuban doctors who treated an estimated five thousand coronavirus patients in Italy. Those missions to Italy and other countries hit hard by the virus have helped to pay for essentials such as food and fuel back home, as Cuba experiences the worst economic crisis since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the newswire added.
  • “This is the real first world war,” Lenin Moreno, Ecuador’s president, told the Financial Times in a video interview. “The other world wars were localized in [some] continents with very little participation from other continents… but this affects everyone. It’s quite a cruel war. It attacks fundamentally the most vulnerable people. It is not localized. It is not a war from which you can escape.”