Scientists urge caution on easing lockdowns; restrictions gradually lifted in some hard-hit countries


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Please note that there will be no Coronavirus Alert editions June 3-5; the Atlantic Council will resume with the June 8th edition.

In top stories today:

  • As lockdown restrictions eased in countries from Spain to the United Kingdom, to Russia, and to India, scientists urged caution about moving too fast. Concerns were also raised about the risks of new coronavirus infections as thousands of civil-rights protesters gathered in cities across the United States.  
  • Scientists cautioned against opening too quickly as Europe’s worst-hit countries prepare to lift coronavirus restrictions further, Bloomberg said. While the death toll stabilizes in countries including Italy, cases are rising steadily elsewhere, especially the United Kingdom, Bloomberg added. But governments are under pressure to reopen economies as the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, predicts the pandemic will shrink the economy by 7.7 percent this year, the newswire reported.  
  • READ MORE: “Transatlantic cooperation is essential to European energy security, which is and should remain a key national security priority for the United States,” says a new report from the Atlantic Council Global Energy Center. “European energy security is crucial for the maintenance of a strong European economy and for European political stability, both of which are in the best interests of the United States.” 
  • Russia will roll out its first approved antiviral treatment for coronavirus in hospitals from June 11, Reuters reported, citing the head of Russia’s RDIF sovereign wealth fund, the drug’s financial backer.  The company behind the treatment, registered under the name Avifavir, will make enough to treat 60,000 people a month, Reuters said. Russia hopes Avifavir will ease strains on the country’s health service and foster a quicker return to normal life, the newswire added.  
  • Lockdown restrictions were eased in Moscow after nine weeks, with parks and shopping centers reopening in the Russian capital, the BBC reported. People can go for walks and take limited exercise, but some are skeptical about easing measures while coronavirus cases are still rising, the BBC added.  
  • “Will Protests Set Off a Second Viral Wave?” reads the headline to a New York Times article. Officials, mayors, and public health experts are concerned about the risk of an increase in coronavirus cases as thousands of people gather in cities across the United States following the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis, even though many protestors wear masks, the Times reported.  
  • As protestors clashed with police, Los Angeles suspended coronavirus testing on May 30 citing safety concerns, CNBC reported.  
  • QUOTE: “These events that are happening now are further threats to the trust we need,” Dr. Sandro Galea, dean of the Boston University School of Public Health said, referring to protests erupting across the United States, The Associated Press reported. “If we do not have that, I worry our capacity to control new outbreaks becomes more limited.”  


  • Drug giant Eli Lilly and Company has started the first human trials of a man-made antibody against coronavirus, a milestone for drug makers trying to combat the disease, news service Stat reported. AbCellera, a Vancouver company, discovered the medicine and Eli Lilly is developing the drug by testing it for obvious side effects, giving the treatment to thirty-two people at different doses, Stat added.  
  • Factories in China are facing the grim reality of falling orders from overseas, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing a slowing pace of an increase in demand for the second month in a row.  
  • QUOTE: “I’m afraid the fastest pace of recovery is already behind us,” said Yang Weixiao, a Beijing-based economist at Kaiyuan Securities, The Wall Street Journal reported. “Weak demand is indeed the biggest problem.” 
  • READ MORE: “Trump rebuked China for its response to the coronavirus pandemic and violation of Hong Kong’s sovereignty,” writes the Atlantic Council David A. Wemer, who garnered the opinion of a range of Atlantic Council experts on what that escalation of confrontation with China means.
  • Singapore hopes to have most, if not all, the city-state’s economy back on track this month, trade minister Chan Chun Sing said on June 1, CNBC reported. Singapore has among the highest number of coronavirus cases in Asia, most of them in clusters in dormitories for foreign workers, CNBC added.
  • Coronavirus has threatened the revival of US “rust-belt” cities such as Detroit, the original Motor City, the Financial Times reported in a long-form article.  
  • The foreign reserves of Saudi Arabia fell by $24.7 billion in April to about $448.6 billion as the kingdom transferred currency to its foreign-wealth fund to finance an ambitious spending spree on stocks beaten down by the coronavirus pandemic, The Wall Street Journal reported.  
  • “Women-led hedge funds beat male rivals in coronavirus crisis” reads a Financial Times headline. The article cites Chicago-based data group HFR’s Women Access index.  


  • Markets are out of step with grim reality and corporates should raise as much money as possible now before investors factor in the true cost of coronavirus, the Financial Times, citing an interview with Manolo Falco, co-head of investment banking at Citigroup.  
  • QUOTE: “As the second quarter comes along and we start seeing the pain, and the collateral effects of that, we think this is going to get much tougher than it looks,” Falco said, the Financial Times reported.  
  • “Hypocrisy gone viral? Officials set bad COVID-19 examples” That’s an Associated Press headline to an article that gives examples from countries including France, Israel, Mexico, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, and the United States. Italy, Japan, and Spain are among other cases cited of “Do as I say, but not as I do.”
  • Prince Joachim of Belgium, who contracted coronavirus after going to a party in Cordoba, southern Spain, apologized and said he’ll “accept the consequences” of his actions, the BBC reported.  
  • “Grief, lockdown and coronavirus: a looming mental health crisis,” the Financial Times reported in the headline to a long-form article.  
  • QUOTE: “As an emergency physician and a psychiatrist, we have very real concerns about the well-being of our communities and our neighbors,” wrote Megan L. Ranney and Jessica Gold, news service Stat reported. “We also know that tying deaths of despair directly to measures being used to reduce the spread of Covid-19 is, simply, wrong.”  


  • A group of 217 UK hospitality and travel executives joined a swathe of airports and airlines in calling on the government to scrap plans to quarantine visitors in favor of so-called air bridges, Bloomberg reported, citing a joint statement. Signatories included hotels, travel agents, and chefs, who also want the foreign office to lift advice against non-essential travel, the newswire added.  
  • “Spain promises safety as it tries to win back tourists and their money” reads a Reuters headline. All beaches in Spain reopened on June 1, except those in Barcelona, and Bilboa’s Guggenheim Museum opened again for the first time in months, the newswire reported. The country’s revenue from tourism halved in the four months to April, and no tourists at all visited Spain that month because of a strict lockdown, Reuters said.  
  • A three-phase plan to lift the coronavirus lockdown got off to a cautious start in India on June 1 despite an upward trend in new infections of the virus, The Associated Press reported. Some states opened their borders, while businesses and shops reopened in other states, and railways announced an extra two hundred special commuter trains, the news service added. Huge crowds gathered outside some stations, making the maintenance of social distancing a challenge, the BBC reported.  
  • The statistics say… India now has 190,000 cases of coronavirus, overtaking France to become the country with the seventh-highest incidence of the virus. A record 8,392 cases were recorded over the previous day, the health ministry said on June 1, Reuters reported.  
  • Families in Nicaragua, where burials take place at all hours of the night to expedite funerals, say they are paying the price of the country’s refusal to adopt the strict measures taken elsewhere to fight the spread of coronavirus, The New York Times reported. Long lines at hospitals and a lack of basic medicines in pharmacies are among the signs that coronavirus is raging across the country, but the government insists it has the virus under control, the Times added.  


  • Sixteen soccer players from Vasco da Gama have tested positive for coronavirus, three of whom have recovered, The Associated Press reported, citing the Rio de Janeiro club. Tests were carried out on about 250 people, the Brazilian club said, the newswire added.  
  • The United States has sent two million doses of malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to Brazil for the country to use in its fight against coronavirus, and the two nations will conduct joint research to determine whether the drug is safe and effective to treat and prevent the condition, The New York Times said, citing a White House announcement on May 31. Controversy has surrounded hydroxychloroquine, which US President Donald J. Trump has taken and promoted, the newspaper added.