Threat Reports

COVID-19 Threat Digest #42, 11 May 2020

 

                                   

 

Actions by Governments

  • Chilean government suspends delivery of controversial COVID-19 card (Anadolu Ajansi)
  • Finland’s school reopening: “I believe we’re doing the right thing” (YLE)
  • France emerges cautiously from coronavirus lockdown (Reuters)
  • Hungary – State support for reduced working time, outline of new measures (Mondaq)
  • Italian government tightens prisoner release rules (Porto Canal)
  • Mali government says it has lifted its curfew (Africain.info)
  • Russian government will develop a plan for economic recovery by June 1 (PolitExpert)
  • South Korea reverses on reopenings following nightclub outbreak (Stuff.co.nz)
  • Sri Lankan government to re-commence all state and private sector services tomorrow while curfew is in effect in capital (Colombo Page)
  • UK – Boris Johnson to launch Covid-19 alert system (BBC)
  • UK – French passengers exempt from UK quarantine plans (BBC)
  • UK government building second COVID-19 contact tracing app with Apple and Google (Digital Strategy Consulting)
  • UK – Welsh government – ‘Don’t drive to Wales from England’ (BBC)
  • US Army offering contract to tech company that can develop wearable sensors to detect COVID-19 (CNN)
  • US – 11 Secret Service agents test positive for COVID-19 (Business Insider)
  • US – Kansas colleges make plans to reopen amid coronavirus (Washington Times)
  • US – NIAID announces the launch of second remdesivir trial (Pharmafile)
  • US – White House reportedly in talks with Intel, TSMC to build advanced chip foundries in the US (TechCrunch)
  • Vietnam reopens kindergartens, primary schools after easing COVID-19 curbs (Channel News Asia)
  • WHO’s latest Situation Report (WHO)

 

Actions by Companies

  • Accor Reopens 300 Hotels In France To Accommodate Coronavirus Patients (True Viral News)
  • Airbus develops solution for airlines to use their widebody aircraft for pure cargo operations during the COVID-19 pandemic (TravelDailyNews Asia-Pacific)
  • Asahi withdraws earnings forecast as virus hits demand for beer (Bloomberg-Quint)
  • Avianca in Colombia files for bankruptcy in US court (BBC)
  • BMW hydrogen fuel cell investment bumps up as it re-commits to EVs (Hydrogen Fuel News)
  • IKEA Indonesia temporarily shuts flagship store (Jakarta Post)
  • Chevron to cut up 600 Australian jobs (Australian Pipeliner)
  • Comcast asked by Senators to open all its WiFi hotspots to students (Engadget)
  • Deutsche Bahn to negotiate billions in aid from federal government (Stuttgarter Zeitung)
  • Experian launches interactive US map showing populations most susceptible to Covid-19 (Business Wire)
  • Ferrari resumes activity in its factories in Maranello and Modena (MotorCanario.com)
  • GKN plc cuts costs over Covid-19 crisis (Connect East Midlands)
  • Goldman Sachs’ analyst warns jet fuel demand may never fully recover from the coronavirus crisis (CNBC)
  • Google announces ‘Corona holiday’, all employees will be on leave on May 22 (Dailyhunt)
  • Incitec Pivot in $675m fundraising drive (I-Q.Net.au)
  • Indian Railways to resume some trains from tomorrow (Hindustan Times)
  • Johnson & Johnson officer aims to deliver 1 bn coronavirus vaccines next year (The Hill)
  • KLPGA Tour in South Korea resumes this week (Chosun.com)
  • Korean Air to resume some international services in June (Simple Flying)
  • LafargeHolcim to keep Philippines business after San Miguel deal collapses (Reuters)
  • Mazda seeks ¥300 billion in loans from domestic banks amid pandemic (Japan Times)
  • POSCO decides to make first cut in production in 12 Years (BusinessKorea)
  • PSA, Renault must repatriate production for aid, finance minister says (Automotive News Europe)
  • Qantas pauses Boeing, Airbus plane deliveries amid COVID-19 downturn (WA Today)
  • Renault factory closed: Muriel Pénicaud says “shocked” that the CGT “plays against employment” (LCI.fr)
  • SABC in South Africa denies it is requesting another government bailout (IOL – News)
  • Saudi Aramco seeking to review price of SABIC deal (Reuters)
  • Starbucks to reopen 150 UK branches this week (Mirror.co.uk)
  • Tesla – Elon Musk vows to move factory in lockdown row (Yahoo! News)
  • Thyssenkrupp overhaul must happen faster due to COVID-19: CEO (Reuters)
  • WestJet Extends flight cancellation until July 4 (Journal de Montreal)

 

Second Wave Risk & Mitigation

  • Australia – Avoiding the second wave (ABC Online)
  • Australia – Brisbane firm builds portable COVID-19 rooms in case second wave emerges (Brisbane Times)
  • Australia – Second wave of coronavirus infections in Germany and South Korea a cautionary tale (SBS News)
  • China –  Fears of second wave after new cases recorded in Wuhan (Perth Now)
  • China – Experts: Few scattered rebounds in Wuhan not a sign of second wave (Global Times)
  • Europe braces for reopening despite fears of virus second wave (AFP)
  • Germany – Fears of a second wave of coronavirus infections (The Guardian)
  • Israel: To prepare for another wave, Israel needs a fixed team of experts (Haaretz.com)
  • Italy – Professor: “The second wave will come from abroad” (Virgilio)
  • Mexico – Influenza and coronavirus combined, the risky scenario in the second wave (Infobae)
  • Philippines ramping up rice imports to boost stockpile amid pandemic (MarketScreener.com)
  • Philippines: Second wave may surge from careless waste disposal (Senate of the Philippines)
  • South Korea warns of sharper trade pain that will shift supply chains (Bloomberg)
  • South Korea – ‘Superspreader’ sparks second wave fears (Cairns Post)
  • Supply chains not all to blame (Straits Times)
  • Sweden’s contested strategy could mean smaller ‘second wave’ (Straits Times)
  • UK – NHS crying out for supply chain tech revolution (BusinessCloud.co.uk)
  • UK – Risk of second wave too high for lockdown to be lifted, warns QUB expert (Belfast Telegraph)
  • US – Are we reopening America too soon? (Forbes.com)
  • US – Bracing for a second wave next winter (Worldcrunch)
  • US – Lawsuits may be next battleground for businesses as pandemic economy reopens (Bangor Daily News)
  • US – Lockdown easing overshadows second wave fears (Investing.com)
  • US – The dangers of reopening the economy too soon (Clean Technica)
  • World – Gold firm above $1,700 level on worries over new wave of infections (This Is Money)
  • World – Supply chains in the time of COVID-19. First trends are emerging (Trans.Info)

 

Drugs, Treatments & Vaccines

Study: Abbott antibody test claims 100% sensitivity

New research, published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology, has found that Abbott’s lab-based serology blood test had 99.9% specificity and 100% sensitivity for detecting the IgG antibody in patients 17 days or more after symptoms began.

 

Clinical trial at Forsyth Medical Center advances to next stage

A clinical trial at two Novant Health Inc. hospitals, including Forsyth Medical Center, has advanced to a pivotal stage involving a medication with the potential to treat patients with symptoms of the COVID-19 virus.

 

Japan PM: Vaccine clinical trials on humans in July

Shinzo Abe revealed on Monday the country’s plan to develop the COVID-19 vaccine outlines clinical trials on humans could begin in July.

 

Chinese firm verifies vaccine safety after phase 2 clinical trials

Sinovac Biotech has reportedly verified the safety of its potential vaccine after phase 2 clinical trials. The results showed that the vaccine candidate offered safe and complete protection in rhesus macaques against SARS- CoV-2 strains.

 

Study: Antibodies in breast milk may protect infants

The study, which has not yet been peer reviewed, was designed on the hypothesis that there is some proportion of antibodies in human milk that comes from blood — making it likely that breast milk contains antibodies to treat Covid-19.

 

NYC Mayor: New York City will test children for antibodies

New York City will begin testing children for antibodies after at least 38 developed a mysterious illness associated with the novel coronavirus. The illness, described as a rare multi-system “inflammatory syndrome,” has killed three children in the state.

 

Triple combination therapy shows promise for patients with less severe illnesses

Study data published in The Lancet suggest that a triple antiviral therapy, interferon beta 1b, lopinavir-ritonavir and ribavirin, may be safe and effective in treating patients with mild to moderate cases of COVID-19.

 

Societal and Economic Impact

Police disperse UK lockdown protest

Officers were pictured dispersing a group of between 40 and 50 people near the capital’s Westminster Bridge. Some protesters made reference to 5G, which conspiracy theorists have linked to the pandemic.

 

Violence at Melbourne coronavirus protests

Melbourne’s Parliament House was swarmed with protesters on Sunday, picketing against vaccinations and a 5G network. Hundreds of people chanted in advocacy of coronavirus being a conspiracy, Bill Gates being arrested and a repeal of lockdown restrictions.

 

Meat plants struggling with infection numbers globally

Outbreaks at slaughterhouses are occurring in a number of countries around the world, in a development that may have long-term implications for food supply systems. The US has been hardest hit, but other countries with highly consolidated meat supply chains – Ireland, Spain, Australia, Germany, Brazil, Canada and the UK – are also struggling.

 

Heathrow calls for plan to increase flights

Britain’s biggest airport said in a statement that the proposed quarantine plan would in effect close the UK’s borders, prompting an even bigger fall in passenger numbers, which in April were 200,000 – the same number that would usually pass through Heathrow in one day.

 

UK may replace contact tracing app

The NHS has begun developing a second contact tracing app after privacy campaigners and technology experts raised concerns about the first one. The second app will use technology provided by Google and Apple and is being developed in parallel.

 

Anti-gay backlash feared in South Korea amid new COVID-19 cases

South Korean health authorities are investigating a small but growing coronavirus outbreak centered in a handful of Seoul nightclubs. When several local media outlets identified the nightclubs as “gay clubs,” it sparked criticism the disclosures and media coverage could out LGBTQ individuals against their will or lead to discrimination.

 

Greece extends migrant camp lockdown

Greece will extend to May 21 a coronavirus lockdown imposed since March on camps for migrants and refugees, authorities have said. A reason for the extension was not given.

 

US nursing homes account for huge share of pandemic deaths

Privately compiled data shows such deaths now account for more than half of all fatalities in 14 states, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Only 33 states report nursing home-related deaths.

 

Saudi Arabia triples VAT

Saudi Arabia’s state news agency said VAT will increase from 5% to 15% as of 1 July, while the cost of living allowance will be suspended from 1 June. The nation has seen its income plummet as the impact of the pandemic has forced down global energy prices.

 

South Korea to push technology in post-pandemic ‘New Deal’

President Moon Jae-in presented an ambitious vision for South Korea to take the initiative in the post-coronavirus global economy. The government will strive to turn South Korea into a globally leading “digital powerhouse” with innovative business ventures and startups serving as the main driving force.

 

Migrants in Yemen face discrimination over COVID-19

Migrants are being stigmatised and face physical and verbal harassment, forced quarantine, denial of access to health services, movement restrictions, and forced movements to frontline and desert areas, leaving them stranded without food, water and essential services.

 

Geopolitical Impact

WHO issues statement on Der Spiegel allegations

The WHO has denied allegations in Der Spiegel that China ‘urged’ the organisation to delay a global warning about the COVID-19 outbreak. In a statement, the WHO notes that the allegations ‘are unfounded and untrue’ and ‘Dr Tedros and President Xi did not speak on 21 January and they have never spoken by telephone.’

 

China rebuts ‘24 lies’ by US politicians

An 11,000-word article posted on the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s website on Saturday gave a point-by-point rebuttal of the 24 “preposterous allegations and lies” that it said were fabricated by US politicians and media outlets to “shift the blame to China for their inadequate response to Covid-19.”

 

UK sends COVID-19 tests to US lab

Around 50,000 coronavirus test samples had to be sent to the US due to ‘operational issues’ in the UK, it has been revealed. The UK government has missed its testing target of 100,000 per day for the seventh consecutive day.

 

Australia backs EU investigation into coronavirus origins

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt says the Morrison government supports a European Union motion for an independent investigation into the origins of COVID-19 in China.

 

Australian PM ‘disappointed’ if new Chinese tariffs linked to investigation

Scott Morrison says he would be “extremely disappointed” if China’s plan to impose tariffs on Australian barley imports were connected to the broader diplomatic dispute over an investigation into the coronavirus pandemic. China’s commerce ministry is proposing to impose tariffs after an 18-month investigation into claims the industry was “dumping” the product at a lower price than at home.

 

Cybersecurity Impact

Range of malware observed in malspam campaigns with references to COVID-19

Researchers have detailed the different types of malware being sent to users via malspam emails using a coronavirus theme. They also observed a spike in newly registered domains with references to COVID-19 or coronavirus, with over 39,000 domains using such a theme. 

 

BEC attack use coronavirus-theme to obtain company information

Researchers have identified multiple business compromise emails that utilise a coronavirus theme. Examples include an attacker requesting payroll update information and attackers stating that they were changing their method of receiving payments due to coronavirus.  

 

US company involved in coronavirus vaccine research targeted by Iranian hackers

Researchers have stated that Gilead Sciences Inc has recently been targeted by Iranian linked hackers. One of the attacks involved sending a fake email login page to a top Gilead executive. Iran has denied any involvement in the attacks, while Gilead Science Inc refused to comment on the matter.

 

US due to release statement accusing China of cyberattacks to obtain data on vaccines

The FBI and DHS are reportedly planning on issuing a warning regarding attempted cyberattacks by Chinese state-sponsored hackers that aim to steal US research on the development of coronavirus vaccines and treatments. 

 

SilverTerrier groups incorporate coronavirus-theme into BEC attacks

Researchers at Palo Alto Networks Unit 42 reported that Nigerian business email compromise (BEC) gangs, tracked as SilverTerrier, have engaged in a series of coronavirus themed campaigns.

 

Researcher claims Aarogya Setu app has privacy issues

The Indian coronavirus tracing app Aarogya Setu allegedly allows individuals to see the health status of other users.

 

Quarantined individuals’ data exposed via Madhya Pradesh government dashboard

The Madhya Pradesh government’s coronavirus web portal allegedly exposes the personal details of quarantined individuals. The leaked information includes names, device ID names and numbers, locations, and more.

 

 

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Although Silobreaker has relied on what it regards as reliable sources while compiling the content herein, Silobreaker cannot guarantee the accuracy, completeness, integrity or quality of such content and no responsibility is accepted by Silobreaker in respect of such content. Readers must determine for themselves what reliance they should place on the compiled content herein.

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