Coronavirus spreading beyond African capitals, WHO says; Europe hoards cash


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 is spreading in Africa beyond the continent’s capital cities, the World Health Organization (WHO) said, while an uptick in new cases in the United States also caused concern. Europeans, worried about unemployment and a second wave of infections, are hoarding cash, harming recovery prospects.
  • The coronavirus pandemic is accelerating in Africa beyond capital cities, with a lack of tests and medical supplies curtailing efforts to slow the spread of the virus, said Matshidiso Moeti, regional director of the WHO Regional Office for Africa, the BBC reported. South Africa has more than a quarter of the continent’s cases, Moeti said, the BBC added.
  • QUOTE: “Until such time as we have access to an effective vaccine, I’m afraid we’ll probably have to live with a steady increase in the region, with some hotspots having to be managed in a number of countries, as is happening now in South Africa, Algeria, Cameroon,” Moeti said, Reuters reported.
  • “White House task force curtails meetings despite spread of virus” reads a headline in the Financial Times, with a jump in new cases across the US West and Deep South coming weeks after lockdown restrictions were eased. Of the thirteen states that reported more than five hundred cases on June 10, two thirds are from those regions, the newspaper said, citing data by the Covid Tracking Project.
  • QUOTE: “There is a new wave coming in parts of the country,” said Eric Toner, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, Bloomberg reported. “It’s small and it’s distant so far, but it’s coming.”
  • READ MORE: “What has made the mass protests particularly surprising is that they come in the throes of the COVID-19 outbreak, when much of the world seemed resigned to remain at home, stream television shows, and stay glued to their mobile devices rather than pour into the streets in pursuit of change,” writes the Atlantic Council’s Borzou Daragahi.
  • In the European Union’s (EU) highest-level and most forthright criticism so far, the bloc accused China of waging a concerted disinformation campaign on coronavirus, leveling criticism at Russia too, The Washington Post reported.
  • QUOTE: “The pandemic showed that disinformation does not only harm the health of our citizens, but also the health of our democracies,” Vera Jourova, the senior EU official charged with rule-of-law issues, told reporters, The Washington Post reported. “We are clearly mentioning Russia and China,” she said. “If we have evidence, we should not shy away from naming and shaming.”
  • From India to Iran, Mexico, Pakistan, and Russia, leaders worldwide have arrived at a point where they feel there’s no choice but to put the economy ahead of health concerns even as coronavirus infections surge, The New York Times reported.
  • Regional governments in Latin America continue to take steps to safeguard the economy against COVID fallouts fearing grim predictions. According to recent World Bank projections, Latin America and the Caribbean will suffer a 7.2 percent decrease in GDP, the largest economic impact of all regions in the world. The top five countries in terms of projected GDP contraction expect similar contractions: Belize, 13.5 percent; Peru, 12 percent; Grenada, 9.6 percent; St. Lucia 8.8 percent; and Brazil, 8 percent.
  • EVENT: H.E. President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani discusses Afghanistan’s vision for peace and how to sustain progress towards stability and prosperity with the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center and the United States Institute of Peace on Thursday, June 11 at 10:00 am ET. Details here.


  • “Europeans Are Hoarding Billions and Have Few Plans to Spend Them,” deterred by rising unemployment and the threat of a second wave of coronavirus infections, Bloomberg reported. Consumer spending accounts for more than half of Europe’s economy and is key to economic recovery, but surveys show few signs that people are ready yet to spend the hundreds of billions of euros they have amassed in their bank accounts during lockdown, the newswire added.
  • In countries with large diasporas in the United States, remittances have greatly suffered. El Salvador experienced a 40 percent fall in remittances in April. Mexico’s flow decreased by 28 percent during April after a record high in March. Remittances in Guatemala fell by 20 percent in April but increased in May.
  • Global dairy exports may record the steepest decline in three decades, while the coronavirus pandemic has “severely” dampened demand for fish, the Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) said in a 2020 outlook report on June 10, Bloomberg reported. Food markets face many more months of uncertainty, the FAO said, the newswire added.
  • Industrial output in Italy fell by 19.1 percent in April from the previous month due to the coronavirus lockdown, but analysts polled by Reuters had expected a decline of 24 percent, CNBC reported.


  • Eli Lilly and Company could have a drug to treat coronavirus ready by September if it makes good progress with either of two antibody treatments being tested, CNBC reported, citing a Reuters interview on June 10 with Chief Scientific Officer Daniel Skovronsky.
  • Researchers are turning to wearable technology including Fitbits and Apple Watches to gather large volumes of real-time data from patients and trace the spread of coronavirus, the Financial Times reported. Measures such as heart rate or skin temperature can show the presence of the virus even before symptoms appear, the newspaper said.
  • As so-called “vaccine nationalism” spreads, Russian President Vladimir Putin has demanded that the country’s top scientists develop a coronavirus vaccine by the fall, The Wall Street Journal reported. Being first would give Putin more economic and political leverage, the newspaper said.
  • A woman in her twenties received a double lung transplant at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago after the previously healthy patient’s organs were destroyed by coronavirus, The New York Times reported. The ten-hour operation is the first known lung transplant in the United States carried out because of the disease, the newspaper said.


  • German airline Lufthansa plans to cut 22,000 jobs, half in its home market, as it struggles to cope with the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on demand for travel, the BBC reported. The carrier hopes to reach an agreement with labor unions by June 22, the BBC added.
  • British Airways plans to sell at least ten works of art from its large collection to raise cash after coronavirus dented demand for travel, Reuters reported, citing an unidentified source. The flag carrier’s collection includes work by Damien Hirst, Peter Doig, and Bridget Riley, the newswire added.  
  • Heathrow airport, Europe’s busiest, has started to cut front-line jobs and warned that the grim conditions facing the aviation industry will continue after the UK government started a fourteen-day quarantine for arriving travelers, the Financial Times reported.
  • Malaysia barred its citizens from attending the Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia this year on coronavirus concerns, following a similar decision by Indonesia, also a Muslim-majority country, Reuters said. Saudi Arabia has suspended the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages until further notice, the newswire added.
  • The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it remains hopeful that Tanzania will share updated data on coronavirus, last done in late April, The Associated Press reported. While President John Magufuli declared the east African country’s victory over the virus at a church service on June 7, opposition leaders have said there are tens of thousands of cases and not the official tally, frozen at 509, the news service reported.
  • “Jobs gone, investments wasted: Africa’s deserted safaris leave mounting toll” reads the headline to a Reuters special report.
  • The Coachella and Stagecoach music festivals, both postponed from April to October because of the coronavirus outbreak, have now been canceled on concern about a possible surge in cases in the fall, The Associated Press reported. Meanwhile Disney plans to open its theme parks in Southern California in mid-July following a closure of four months, the news service reported separately.