CORONAVIRUS ALERT 06/29/2020
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.
Please note that the Atlantic Council will not run a June 30 Coronavirus Alert edition and will resume on Wednesday, July 1.
In top stories today:
- The number of coronavirus cases topped 10 million and deaths surpassed 500,000 worldwide, with the grim milestones marked by an increase in cases in India, Brazil, and the United States. Amazon workers in Germany stayed off work on safety concerns.
- The statistics say… there are now more than ten million cases worldwide in 188 countries and territories; in excess of 500,000 people have died.
- Experts have warned for months that coronavirus could gain a foothold in poor or war-torn countries ill-equipped to cope not least because of a lack of testing—and that’s starting to be borne out, The Associated Press reported. Health workers are leaving their posts in south Yemen because of a lack of protective equipment, while cases are soaring in India and Pakistan, home to 1.5 billion between them, the news service added. Cases and deaths in Brazil are second only to US tallies, added The Associated Press, which cites examples of the impact on countries including South Africa, Egypt, and Peru.
- More than a quarter of known deaths from coronavirus have been in the United States, where cases are increasing quickly in Houston, and in Florida the daily tally of cases has risen five-fold in two weeks, The New York Times reported.
- QUOTE: “The window is closing” to halt the spread of coronavirus cases in the United States, US health and human services secretary Alex Azar told Meet the Press on June 28, the Financial Times reported. “We have to act, and people as individuals have to act, responsibly. We need to social distance, we need to wear our face coverings.”
- US President Donald J. Trump is coming under bipartisan pressure to wear a face mask, which he has recommended for others and health experts say is a key element in fighting the spread of coronavirus, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) speaking on CNN and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on ABC. Cases of coronavirus continued to surge over the weekend in the United States, the newspaper added.
- China has reinstated strict lockdown measures near Beijing following a small spike in coronavirus cases, the BBC reported. The lockdown in Anxin county in Hebei province, approximately ninety miles south of the Chinese capital, affects about 400,000 people, the BBC said. Only essential workers can leave their homes, and one person from each household can shop for essentials once a day, officials said on June 28, the broadcaster added.
- India posted almost twenty thousand daily cases of coronavirus on June 29, with the financial hub of Mumbai extending its lockdown by a month, Reuters reported. About ten million workers fled the country’s megacities between March and May during the world’s biggest lockdown, and are not expected to return while the virus continues to spread and getting work is uncertain, Bloomberg reported.
- The newswire also reports on an extra seventy-five coronavirus cases in the Australian state of Victoria, an increase in Tokyo too, and cases in Austria reaching the highest level since mid-May. Cases of the virus continue to rise in the Czech Republic, with the daily increase of 305 on June 28 a record since April 3, The Associated Press reported.
- EVENT: Where does advocacy for LGBTI rights fit into the broader US strategy for global leadership in a new era of great power competition? Ultimately, how can individuals, organizations, and governments coordinate their efforts to move global LGBTI rights forward in the 2020s? Join us for this virtual event at 4:00 pm ET on Monday, June 29. Details are here.
- “Europe Slowly Picks Up Pieces After Virus Shattered Economy” reads a Bloomberg headline. A European Commission confidence gauge rose to 75.7 in June, less than economists expected, and while employment expectations in the euro area have improved, they are still as much as 60 percent lower than pre-pandemic levels for some sectors, the newswire added. Consumer confidence increased in June, as did sentiment measures in all industries and major economies in the euro area, Bloomberg said.
- “Raiding the pot: how the pandemic has deepened the pensions crisis.” That’s the headline to a long-form article in the Financial Times, which cites examples from Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, and the United States.
- A summit and virtual concert hosted by actor Dwayne Johnson raised $6.9 billion in cash and loan guarantees, including $5.4 billion in loans and guarantees from the European Commission and the European Investment Bank, to help fragile economies hit by the coronavirus pandemic, The Associated Press reported.
- UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out a £1 billion school-building program on June 28, with another announcement on public investment in hospitals, homes, and infrastructure slated for June 29 in an effort to revive the coronavirus-hit economy, CNBC reported. The country will shatter its record for government bond sales this year as it contends with the economic impact of the virus, Bloomberg said.
- QUOTE: “I think this is the moment for a Rooseveltian approach to the UK,” CNBC cited Johnson as telling the Radio Times, referring to US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, renowned for the “New Deal” program that funded massive investment in public infrastructure.
- UK consumers saved at a record level in May and credit-card debt was lower than usual as lockdown limited spending opportunities, the Financial Times reported. Consumers saved £25.6 billion, the largest increase since records began in 1997, the newspaper said. Following strong rises in savings in March and April, some economists said consumers may continue to put money aside rather than spend because of economic uncertainty, the Financial Times added.
- There’s a slew of other UK-focused stories. “Into the fog” is part of the headline for a Reuters special report that outlines how the UK lost track of coronavirus. And after losing weight while in intensive care as a sufferer in the pandemic, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is now mulling how to address the country’s poor record on obesity, Bloomberg reported. Meanwhile the pandemic has made the need to address the problem of the country’s ageing workforce more urgent, Bloomberg said in a separate article.
- At least two thousand Amazon workers in Germany have gone on strike because of concerns over coronavirus safety, the Financial Times said, citing labor union Verdi. The workers at six Amazon sites stayed off work following a surge in cases at two of the company’s warehouses, added the newspaper, which leads its world coverage with the story.
- READ MORE: “Berlin makes a grave mistake when it allows Trump’s hostile rhetoric and actions to distract from the fact that he has identified serious, long-term problems in US-German relations,” writes the Atlantic Council’s Jeffrey Lightfoot. “Just because Germany viscerally dislikes the American messenger does not mean it should discount the message.”
- China’s military received approval from the country’s Central Military Commission to use a coronavirus candidate vaccine developed by its research division and CanSino Biologics after clinical trials showed that it was safe, CNBC reported. The shot was also approved for human tests in Canada, CNBC added.
- The International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreed on June 26 to Egypt’s request for a $5.2 billion loan as the coronavirus pandemic keeps tourists away, curbs remittances from workers overseas, and depresses consumer spending by Egyptians at home, The Wall Street Journal reported. Cairo got a separate $2.77 billion loan in May, the newspaper added.
- Coronavirus is battering Africa’s growing middle class, which accounts for 170 million people out of the continent’s population of 1.3 billion, The New York Times reported. About eight million of them could fall into poverty because of the pandemic and its economic effects, the newspaper said, citing World Data Lab, a research organization.
- QUOTE: “We are seeing a rapid rise in the cumulative number of positive COVID-19 cases indicating that, as we had expected, we are approaching a surge during the… months of July and August,” said South Africa’s Health Minister Zwelini Mkhize, The Associated Press reported.
- Johns Hopkins University interactive web-based dashboard to visualize and track reported cases in real-time.
- CDC provides frequent updates and background information on coronavirus and interim guidance on company policies.
- The World Health Organization daily situation reports.