WHO urges caution as lockdowns eased, millions of new tests in Wuhan


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In top stories today:


  • The World Health Organization (WHO) urged vigilance against a second wave of coronavirus infections, while infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci gave a stark warning of the impact of opening up the US economy too soon. The Chinese city of Wuhan plans to test millions of residents for the disease.  
  • QUOTE: The United States will suffer “needless suffering and death” if coronavirus lockdowns are lifted too soon, Dr. Anthony Fauci intends to tell senators on May 12, he said in an email sent to The New York Times. Media including CNBCThe Washington PostBloombergBBCReuters picked up on The New York Times report. “If we skip over the checkpoints in the guidelines to Open America Again, then we risk the danger of multiple outbreaks,” Fauci told The New York Times in the email, the BBC reported. 
  • The WHO has urged governments and the public to maintain “extreme vigilance” to avoid a second wave of coronavirus infections as several countries in Europe and Asia start to ease lockdowns, The New York Times reported, citing Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. The WHO also said it sees “potentially positive data” on coronavirus treatments and that it will focus on learning more about the most promising four or five, Reuters reported.  


  • Six cases, fourteen million tests. Authorities in Wuhan, where the coronavirus outbreak was first detected, ordered the Chinese city’s fourteen million residents to be tested for the disease over ten days following a cluster of new cases, The South China Morning Post reported.  
  • “China Is Defensive. The U.S. Is Absent. Can the Rest of the World Fill the Void?” reads the headline to a New York Times story. Australia has pushed for an inquiry into the origins of coronavirus, while Europe will take up the idea with the WHO later this month, the newspaper said. China, bristling at Australia’s stance, has cut beef imports from the country, The Washington Post reported.  
  • READ MORE: A timely conversation on the implications of the pandemic on relations between China and Brazil is held at 2:00 pm EST online on May 12. See details here
  • UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson toned down a plan to reopen the economy, after labor unions and employers said they weren’t ready for a return to work he called for in a televised address on May 10, Bloomberg reported. The furlough program covering seven million workers was extended by four months until the end of October, with the cost to the taxpayer decreasing gradually, the Financial Times said.  
  • READ MORE: “Massive government fiscal stimulus packages, while needed to cushion the devastating impact of the pandemic recession, will boost public sector indebtedness sky high this year,” writes the Atlantic Council’s Hung Tran. “Even if inflation and interest rates remain low, the burden of servicing a quickly growing volume of debt will crowd out other important public expenditures.” 
  • QUOTE: “We’re not expecting, this week, a huge change, we’re simply encouraging those in those sectors who can’t work from home to talk to their employers and go to work,” Johnson said in a televised address on May 11, Bloomberg reported. “Employers will not be able to get away with forcing workers to work in workplaces that are not Covid-secure.” 


  • State-owned oil giant Saudi Aramco posted a 25 percent decline in first-quarter profit to 62.5 billion riyals ($16.6 billion) as it faced a slump in both the price of crude and global demand, CNBC reported. Aramco will still pay a first-quarter dividend of $18.75 billion, part of a promise made to investors before it went public in December, in the largest initial public offering in history, CNBC added.  
  • QUOTE: “As companies prepare to reopen their US operations, many have found themselves held hostage to decisions made by foreign governments about whether their suppliers are ‘essential’ or not,” Robert E. Lighthizer, the US trade representative, wrote in The New York Times. “The public will demand that policymakers remedy this strategic vulnerability in the years to come by shifting production back to the United States.”  
  • Factory prices in China fell at the fastest pace in four years in April as a slowdown in global growth prompted by coronavirus affected industrial demand in the world’s second-biggest economy, CNBC reported. The producer price index fell 3.1 percent from a year earlier, said the National Bureau of Statistics, compared with the 2.6 percent decline analysts polled by Reuters expected, CNBC said. 
  • Toyota, the world’s second-biggest carmaker, warned of an 80 percent decline in profit in the next year as it forecast that coronavirus would have a much greater impact on auto sales than did the global financial crisis, the Financial Times reported. Still, Toyota sees a full recovery in demand in Europe and the United States in early 2021, the newspaper said.  


  • Demand from airline passengers will not even meet a quarter of pre-coronavirus levels in September, and carriers will have to adjust to cope with that, Dave Calhoun, chief executive of airplane maker Boeing said in a CNBC interview to be aired on May 12.  
  • QUOTE: “Traffic levels will not be back to 100%. They won’t even be back to 25%. Maybe by the end of the year we approach 50%,” said Boeing Chief Executive Dave Calhoun, CNBC reported. “So there will definitely be adjustments that have to be made on the part of the airlines.” 
  • Passports not needed? UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said overseas holidays this summer are “unlikely” even as the government embarks on a gradual reopening of the economy, Bloomberg reported. It’s the latest blow to the travel industry which is contending with global travel restrictions imposed to contain the spread of coronavirus, the newswire reported.  
  • QUOTE: “It is unlikely that big, lavish international holidays will be possible this summer,” UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock told ITV’s This Morning show on May 12, Bloomberg reported. “I think social distancing of some kind is going to carry on.” 
  • Travelers will need to observe a 14-day quarantine on arriving in Spain starting from May 15 as the country tries to maintain gains against the virus following one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns there, Reuters reported.   
  • Budget airline Ryanair will offer 40 percent of flights from July 1 as it anticipates restrictions being lifted, Forbes reported. The services will cover most European routes but with fewer flights, it added. The Irish airline said a plan by the UK to quarantine incoming passengers was unenforceable, the American Journal of Transportation said. Virgin Atlantic also announced its schedule for the summer, including flights from London Heathrow to Orlando, Business Traveller reported. 


  • Interruptions to treatment for HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa because of the coronavirus outbreak could lead to more than half a million deaths in the forty-six-country region, the WHO and UNAIDS said, The South China Morning Post reported. Six months of interruptions could mean an additional 471,000 to 673,000 Aids-related deaths in one year, the newspaper said.