Coronavirus probably with us for two years; intelligence community in Wuhan probe seeks source of virus, Russia cases rise


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:

  • Coronavirus will probably be with us for as long as two years, a report said, as the Czech Republic became the latest government worldwide to launch contact-tracing technology. The US intelligence community confirmed it’s looking into claims the virus emerged from a lab accident. Russia’s prime minister tested positive for the disease as cases in the country increased at a record pace.
  • The statistics say… there were almost 87,000 new cases reported on April 30; more than 230,000 people have died worldwide, according to Bloomberg.
  • The coronavirus pandemic will probably last for as long as two years and will not come under control until about two-thirds of the world’s population is immune, Bloomberg reported, citing a report by the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. The virus may be harder to control than influenza as it can be spread from people who display no symptoms, the report said, the newswire added.
  • US intelligence agencies confirmed they are investigating whether coronavirus emerged from a lab accident in the Chinese city of Wuhan, but there’s no concrete evidence so far to support the theory, The Wall Street Journal reported. The public statement from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, or ODNI, which coordinates the work of seventeen US spy agencies, is unusual, the Journal added. China has repeatedly denied the lab accident theory, the newspaper said.  
  • Russia posted a record daily increase in coronavirus infections as the country’s prime minister, Mikhail Mishustin, tested positive for the disease and will step down from his duties temporarily to recover, Reuters reported.
  • The statistics say… The tally in Russia rose by 7,933 to reach a total of 114,431 with ninety-six more fatalities, taking the death toll in the country to 1,169, Reuters said.
  • The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on workers who have been there all along—packing and delivering supplies, caring for the elderly and sick, and keeping streets and buildings clean—has been borne unevenly along racial, gender, and socioeconomic lines, the Associated Press reported, citing its own analysis of census data from the one hundred largest cities in the United States. Thousands of these workers, mostly women and people of color and more likely to be immigrants, have fallen sick and many have died, the Associated Press reported.
  • The S&P 500 had its best month since January 1987 even as it became more and more clear that the US economy is approaching a dire downturn because of the coronavirus crisis, The New York Times reported. Investor sentiment in the UK—most European stock markets are closed today for a public holiday—was dented by US President Donald J. Trump’s threat to impose fresh tariffs on China in retaliation for the coronavirus crisis, Reuters reported.
  • Amazon’s profit will suffer in the coming months despite a surge in online shopping after the tech giant said it expects to spend $4 billion or more on coronavirus measures including safety for its workers, Vox reported, citing a statement by CEO Jeff Bezos. Amazon said it ended the quarter with 840,000 workers after a hiring spree because of a surge in orders during lockdowns, The Wall Street Journal reported.
  • QUOTE: “The Fed’s success is a lesson in how the credibility and competence—and boldness—of government leaders can bring us back from the economic catastrophe wrought by the novel coronavirus,” David Ignatius wrote in The Washington Post. “It’s about confidence. The markets have stabilized because they believe the Fed will do whatever it takes to backstop the financial system.”
  • READ MORE: “As we contemplate the road back from the coronavirus depression, we need to think big and fix things, at home and abroad,” the Atlantic Council’s Daniel Fried wrote. “American resilience can get us out of it.”  
  • The Czech Republic has launched a contact-tracing mobile phone app, allowing authorities to track and trace their movements over the previous five days if they test positive for coronavirus, the BBC reported. Countries hard hit by the virus are already using contact tracing, including Germany, Singapore, and Hong Kong, the BBC said. The UK plans to have an app ready by mid-May, the broadcaster added.
  • From Utah to Iceland, governments and developers are building contact-tracing apps, Bloomberg reported in an April 30 article, which gives a summary of developments worldwide.


  • Boeing, contending with a crisis that’s hit the global aviation industry as travel demand all but evaporated because of the coronavirus outbreak, started a $25 billion bond offering on April 30 that the plane maker said meets its near-term financial needs, The Wall Street Journal reported. It’s among the biggest ever corporate-bond offerings, the newspaper added.
  • More airlines require passengers to wear face masks onboard as some states relax lockdowns, The New York Times said. American Airlines and Delta Air Lines said on April 30 that will be a requirement in coming weeks, joining Lufthansa, Swiss International Air Lines, and Austrian Airlines, as well as JetBlue and Frontier Airlines, the newspaper added. Southwest Airlines and United Airlines, whose cabin crew will soon wear masks, “strongly” encourage passengers to do so as well, the Times reported.
  • Social distancing at airports is “physically impossible,” the chief executive of London’s Heathrow Airport said, as John Holland-Kaye called on the UK to lead the way in developing international standards of measures that could include temperature checks for passengers, the BBC reported. The airport expects that passenger numbers in April plummeted by 97 percent, the Financial Times reported.
  • UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised a detailed plan to lift the lockdown that has crippled the country’s economy, as he said the UK has passed the peak of coronavirus infections, Bloomberg reported. Critics link the high death tally in the UK to the government’s delay in imposing a lockdown until March 23, The Wall Street Journal reported.
  • QUOTE: “I think, broadly speaking, we did the right thing at the right time,” said UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, speaking at his first conference in several weeks after suffering a serious case of coronavirus, The Wall Street Journal reported.
  • More than 60 percent of UK residents would be uneasy returning leaving their homes even if the government lifts lockdown restrictions in a month from now, Reuters reported, citing an Ipsos Mori poll.
  • Australia brought forward a review of coronavirus restrictions to May 8 from May 11, the BBC reported. The Northern Territory became the first state to lift major restrictions, while New South Wales—which includes Sydney—allowed households to have two adult visitors at a time, the BBC said.


  • The BBC published an explainer article in which twelve correspondents answer the question “How will coronavirus change the way we live?” Issues covered a range from technology to travel, retail, education, and the care sector, while tackling energy, trade and geopolitics, sports, entertainment, and communities along the way.
  • READ MORE: “Public fear and anxiety about the country’s fractious political echelon is now multiplied by grave new national challenges created by the pandemic while increasing the magnitude of preexisting threats,” writes the Atlantic Council’s John Raidt. “For a country in crisis, division and dysfunction are no longer affordable or tolerable.”
  • “The end of the office? Coronavirus may change work for ever,” reads the headline to a Financial Times article. There may be fewer desks to go back to once lockdown restrictions are finally lifted, the newspaper said. The Site Selectors Guild, whose members help to locate new buildings, said half of US office searches are now frozen, while a quarter of chief financial officers were already thinking about cutting back on real estate, a PwC survey found this week, the newspaper reported.
  • Apple, whose stores worldwide are shuttered except in China and one in Korea, offered no guidance on the quarter ending in June because of coronavirus uncertainty, CNBC reported. But CEO Tim Cook expressed confidence about worldwide recovery from the pandemic, CNBC cited him as saying.
  • QUOTE: “Forget the mini-boom in stocks—the corporate mood is souring,” Tom Braithwaite said in a Financial Times piece headlined “The week business waved goodbye to the V-shape recovery.” “V for victory! But it became clear this week during a series of corporate announcements that it was V for vain hopes.”


  • More than seven million children in Afghanistan face hunger as the price of food surges during the coronavirus outbreak, the BBC reported, citing the charity Save the Children.
  • “Brazil’s Bolsonaro sits on a ticking coronavirus time bomb,” reads the headline to an article in The Washington Post, which describes the response of the country’s president to coronavirus as “bewildering” amid a woefully inadequate level of testing for the virus. Brazil has eighty thousand confirmed cases, but experts believe the real figure is much higher, possibly more than one million, the Post said.
  • South Africans can now exercise between 6am and 9am, but a controversial ban on the sale of alcohol and cigarettes still stands, the BBC reported. People in construction and manufacturing are allowed back to work as the country eased its strict lockdown from May 1, the BBC said.