Threat Reports

COVID-19 Threat Digest #45, 14 May 2020

 

                                         

 

Actions by Governments

  • Australia – Coronavirus restrictions lifted NSW: Pubs set to reopen (7 News Australia)
  • Australian government in Water Ledger blockchain for trading water rights (Ledger Insights)
  • Bulgarian govt to cut taxes for use of Sofia Airport in bid to lift traffic (See News)
  • Chilean government increases blockades to mitigate spread of coronavirus (Valora Analitik)
  • Colombian government will toughen isolation in Amazonas due to an increase in cases of covid-19 (El Ciudadano Chile)
  • Ecuador government plans to resume airport operations June 1 (Puranoticia.cl)
  • Egypt reopens Gaza crossing to allow stranded Palestinians to return home (African News Agency)
  • Finland and Estonia reopens ferry lines for employment travel (ERR.ee)
  • Finnish government decides on new subsidy for coronavirus-hit businesses (Helsinki Times)
  • French government shoots down Paris mayor’s request to reopen parks (Yahoo! News)
  • Germany to reopen borders with Austria, France and Switzerland on June 15 (Deutsche Welle)
  • Italian government has approved a 55 million euros ($60 billion) stimulus package to help the country recover from coronavirus crisis (CNN)
  • Japan – PM Abe says country to end virus emergency for most regions (Mainichi JP)
  • Mexican government insists that it will create two million new jobs (Marco A. Mares)
  • Russian government allocates 23.4 billion rubles to support domestic air carriers (Tass.ru)
  • South Africa’s Ramaphosa to discuss easing COVID-19 restrictions further by end-May (Today Online)
  • South Korea to change guidelines for information disclosure regarding COVID-19 patients (Hani.co.kr)
  • Spanish government seeks to extend emergency status for coronavirus (MVS Noticias)
  • Swedish government extends recommendation of non-essential foreign travel until 15 July, but opens up for shorter trips within Sweden to 1-2 hours from the place of residence (DN.se)
  • Switzerland to reopen borders with France, Germany, Austria (SchengenVisaInfo)
  • UAE – Dubai’s parks and hotel beaches reopen as coronavirus restrictions eased further (Al-Araby Al-Jadeed)
  • UK Government to provide trade credit insurance guarantee scheme (LexBlog)
  • UK government rules players can ‘opt out’ as Premier League training given green light amid coronavirus pandemic (Goal.com News – English)
  • US army resumes Europe exercises after pandemic pause (SpaceWar.com)
  • US – FBI and CISA issue warning of Chinese hackers targeting COVID-19 research organizations (FBI)
  • US lawmakers ask S. Korea to back Taiwans bid to participate in WHO session (Yonhap News Agency)
  • US – New Mexico extends stay-at-home order as several states move to reopen (UPI)
  • US – Trump extends order for the U.S. telecommunications supply chain restrictions for Huawei, ZTE (NewsBeezer)
  • US – Trump rejects Fauci’s caution on reopening schools (ABC News)
  • US – CDC to tell doctors to report cases of COVID-19 inflammatory syndrome in kids (NationalPost.com)
  • WHO’s latest Situation Report (WHO)

 

Actions by Companies

  • Amazon to convert more Whole Foods locations to online delivery only (FOXBusiness.com)
  • Baidu invests US$70.5 million in live streaming amid coronavirus-led boom (South China Morning Post)
  • Banco Bradesco says it will make covid-19 tests available to employees in Brazil’s largest cities (SP Bancarios)
  • Bombardier says no delay to Alstom rail deal due to COVID-19 (This Is Money)
  • Emirates to resume Dubai flights to 9 cities in 8 countries from May 21 (Alarabiya)
  • Ford to restart UK car manufacturing at Dagenham and Bridgend (City A.M.)
  • Fujitsu Sets Out the ‘Fujitsu Technology and Service Vision 2020’ (Benzinga – Press Releases)
  • Goldman Sachs says a second wave of coronavirus could make the Fed rethink negative interest rates (CNBC)
  • Google launches new commissions for Hotel Ads (WeBitMag)
  • HSBC Mexico announces deferred mortgage program due to Covid-19 (La Jornada Mexico)
  • IKEA set to reopen two Dublin outlets next week (TheJournal.ie) and announced the opening date for stores in Moscow (Advis.ru)
  • Korean Air to issue $817 million in new shares as virus strains industry (Reuters)
  • Marks & Spencer cafes to reopen as lockdown eases (BBC News)
  • Mohawk increases PPE manufacturing, donates face shields and protective gowns to ASPCA (CSR Wire)
  • Orange begins reopening stores in France following lockdown (Electronics360)
  • Reuters expands program to combat misinformation with Facebook partnership in Singapore (Reuters India)
  • Rio Tinto to hire hundreds of skilled workers in WA (Australian Mining)
  • Sanofi says will supply its first vaccines in the United States (Lesechos)
  • SAS airline to require face masks on all flights (Reuters)
  • Sberbank invited employees to volunteer in testing vaccines from COVID-19 (Sostav)
  • Six Flags announces new system for reopening (star-telegram.com)
  • Sony says PS5 is still on track to meet its Holiday 2020 release date despite pandemic (T3)
  • Takeda Pharmaceutical exec says plasma alliance could start clinical trial for unbranded therapy in July (NIKKAN YAKUGYO WEB)
  • Tata Motors reopens 200 dealerships and 300 service centres (Yahoo! India)
  • Tesla’s US car plant visited by police to check whether the carmaker is following safety protocols (Bloomberg)
  • Thermo Fisher, WuXi and Mayo Clinic to develop open-platform COVID-19 antibody test (FierceBiotech)
  • Vodacom to Use Google’s High-Flying Balloons to Provide Internet in Mozambique (TechFinancials.co.za)
  • Xylem and UNICEF partner to provide COVID-19 relief and safe water for children, families in vulnerable communities around the world (Humanitarian News blogs)

 

Second Wave Risk & Mitigation

  • Australia – what could cause a second wave coronavirus outbreak? (ABC Just In)
  • Belgian PM: Second wave is “a scenario that cannot be excluded” (Sudinfo.be)
  • Europe – Deloitte Partner: Pandemic could help Romania become an EU supply chain superhub (Romania Business Insider)
  • France – Arrival of a possible second wave under close surveillance (Pourquoi Docteur)
  • Iceland – Study suggests reopening schools is safe (Spectator)
  • South Korea – more than a hundred shoppers waited outside a Chanel store in Seoul, shrugging off fears about a second wave of coronavirus infections, to beat an imminent price hike (Reuters – Twitter)
  • UK – No gowns included in Welsh Government’s PPE stockpile until this week despite what public were told two weeks ago (Wales Online)
  • UK – Wastewater could be key to tracking a second wave of COVID-19 (University of Sheffield)
  • US – Most states lifting coronavirus lockdowns haven’t met federal guidelines for reopening (Washington Post)
  • US – Oklahoma spends millions on coronavirus purchases, but won’t say from where (ReadFrontier.org)
  • US – President Trump to announce national strategic stockpile 2.0 initiative (CBS Philadelphia)
  • US – Stockpiling germaphobes ignite unlikely appliance boom (Bloomberg)
  • US – The time to prepare for a second wave is now (Medium.com)
  • US – Undisclosed White House report shows coronavirus cases rising in several U.S. cities, towns (NBCNews.com)
  • World – Applying influenza pandemic lessons to COVID-19 (American Council On Science & Health) and (Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy CIDRAP)
  • World – Coronavirus will persist until 70% of the world’s population is infected (Science Times)
  • World – Protecting seafarers and the global supply chain during COVID-19 (Phys.org)

 

Drugs, Treatments & Vaccines

Clinical trials of coronavirus drug favipiravir show patients recovering faster

The data collected showed that 60 percent of a test group of 40 patients who took favipriavir tested negative for the virus after five days of treatment, twice as fast as standard therapy. 

 

Public Health England: Antibody test evaluated by Wiltshire experts is 100% accurate

Scientific experts at PHE’s Porton Down facility have been conducting evaluations of a new antibody blood test developed by a Swiss pharmaceutical company. Their examination found it is “highly specific” and 100% accurate.

 

Forsyth hospital joins clinical trial focused on oxygen support for patients

The clinical trial is for DAS181, which is administered as a mist that patients inhale directly into the lungs. Known as a “nebulized treatment,” it’s a common way to treat asthma and other respiratory illnesses. The treatment will be administered twice a day for 10 days.

 

India to test four drugs as part of the WHO solidarity trial

The Indian Council of Medical Research announced that potential antiviral agents, including Gilead Sciences’ remdesivir, as well as chloroquine/hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir-ritonavir and lopinavir-ritonavir with interferon, will be evaluated as part of the trial.

 

Glenmark begins clinical trials for using Favipiravir

The drug will be tested in 150 patients with mild to moderate coronavirus in public and private hospitals in India.

 

Italian researchers claim to have developed first COVID-19 vaccine

According to reports, the tests are being carried out at Rome’s infectious-disease Spallanzani Hospital and the researchers have successfully managed to generate antibodies in mice that work on human cells.

 

Moderna gets FDA fast track status for mRNA vaccine

Moderna has secured fast track designation from the US Food and Drug Administration for its mRNA-1273, the mRNA vaccine candidate against SARS-CoV-2. 

 

Study: New inflammatory condition in children probably linked to coronavirus

The authors found that over the five years before the pandemic, 19 children with Kawasaki disease were treated at the Papa Giovanni XXIII Hospital. But during the two months from February 18 to April 20 alone, the hospital treated 10 children with similar hyper-inflammatory symptoms.

 

Study: Passive immunization may provide short-term fortification against COVID-19

Patients who received passive immunization had a significantly shorter hospital stay and lower mortality rate than other groups. Researchers also saw that patients who received convalescent plasma before day 14 of illness had a higher discharge rate. 

 

Researchers in Denmark testing if senicapoc drug can reduce lung damage in COVID-19 patients

The Danish government has given a grant to a research team at Aarhus University to launch a clinical trial which will investigate if the treatment can prevent the lung damage seen in COVID-19 and SARS, to reduce the need for a patient to be on a ventilator.

 

Russian Ministry of Health announces vaccine clinical trial

The head of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation Mikhail Murashko said that in June it is planned to begin clinical trials of the coronavirus vaccine.

 

Societal and Economic Impact

Privacy bill passed for Australian COVIDSafe app

The federal Privacy Commissioner pledged to aggressively protect the privacy of users of the COVIDSafe app, after safeguards legislation beefing up oversight of the app passed Parliament. The passage of the bill came after the government, for the first time, banned any law enforcement, intelligence, anti-corruption or court from seeking access to the data. 

 

Australian unemployment rate higher than expected

Australia has suffered its single largest monthly fall in the number of people holding a job, with a record 594,000 drop in the number of workers during April. Figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Thursday showed the unemployment rate spiking a full percentage point to 6.2 percent last month.

 

Insurance claims to be largest since 9/11

Insurance market Lloyd’s of London has said it expects coronavirus-related claims to cost it $3bn to $4.3bn (£2.5bn to £3.5bn). Lloyd’s said its payout on coronavirus claims would also equal the combined impact of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria in 2017.

 

Children afflicted by inflammatory disease linked to COVID-19

Scores of UK and US children have been affected by a rare inflammatory disease. Up to 100 children in the UK have been affected and studies suggest the same reaction is being seen in children elsewhere in Europe. It is likely to be caused by a delayed immune response to the virus which looks like Kawasaki disease.

 

UK A&E attendance at record low

Accident and Emergency attendance in England has fallen to a record low as people stay away from hospitals during the pandemic. Data published by NHS England shows 0.9 million attendances were recorded in April 2020, down 57% from 2.1 million in April 2019. The number is the lowest for any calendar month since current records began in August 2010.

 

Suicides decline in Japan

The suicide rate in Japan fell by 20% in April compared with the same time last year, the biggest drop in five years, despite fears the coronavirus pandemic would cause increased stress and many prevention helplines were either not operating or short-staffed.

 

US-Mexico border factories urged to stay open

Official efforts to keep the factories shut and contain the spread of Covid-19 have come under intense pressure from companies – and US government officials – who have urged the Mexican government to keep foreign-owned factories running at any cost.

 

Dozens dead after alcohol poisoning in Mexico

As many as 40 people have died after drinking methanol in two states in central Mexico. It is unclear if the poisonings are related to the new coronavirus lockdowns.Authorities have not said whether people drank the adulterated booze because legitimate liquor was unavailable or whether the economic effects of the lockdown have forced people to turn to cheaper bootleg versions.

 

Donald Trump says warning from Fauci was ‘not acceptable’

Trump has said a sobering warning by his top infectious diseases expert about lifting pandemic restrictions too soon was unacceptable. He accused Dr Anthony Fauci of wanting ‘to play all sides of the equation’ in his testimony to lawmakers on Tuesday. 

 

Wisconsin court strikes down stay-at-home order

The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled it ‘unlawful’ and ‘unenforceable’ in a high-profile win for the state’s Republican-led Legislature. The suit was filed specifically against state Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm and other health officials, who made the decision in mid-April to extend the state’s ‘Safer at Home’ emergency order to May 26.

 

New Zealand to borrow $50 billion for recovery

The government will borrow an extra $50 billion in the June 2021 fiscal year to mitigate the hit from the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

Federal Reserve warns of slow US recovery

Chairman Jerome Powell warned of a slow recovery from the ongoing coronavirus-fueled economic crisis but disagreed with Donald Trump’s administration on adopting negative interest rates. A forthcoming Federal Reserve analysis that shows disruptions associated with the coronavirus outbreak have disproportionately weighed on lower-income households and families.

 

A quarter of most-viewed YouTube videos about coronavirus contain misleading information

A study, published in BMJ Global Health, found that misinformation and conspiracy theories surrounding coronavirus continue to circulate online. The researchers analysed some of the most popular videos referencing coronavirus on YouTube and discovered that 27.5% of videos contained misleading non-factual information.

 

Geopolitical Impact

Taiwan’s exclusion from WHO caused COVID-19 deaths

Lives have been lost in the coronavirus pandemic because of the World Health Organisation’s exclusion of Taiwan and refusal to allow it to share best practices and information, a top United States government commission on China said.

 

Pandemic to reshape supply chain and dependence on China

The coronavirus crisis will fundamentally reshape global trade as companies look to reduce their dependence on Chinese manufacturing, economists have predicted. The Economist Intelligence Unit said the pandemic will reverse globalization by accelerating a move toward regional supply chains.

 

Global trade to fall by 27%

Global trade is forecast to fall by a record 27% in the second quarter of the year after a slump in the export of cars, machine parts and oil. Almost every category of goods is expected to suffer a fall in trade over the coming months, adding to a 3% decline in the first quarter of the year.

 

WHO says COVID-19 ‘may never go away’

Mike Ryan, the WHO emergencies director, said that the virus that causes Covid-19 could become endemic like HIV, warning against any attempt to predict how long it would keep circulating. ‘I think it is important we are realistic and I don’t think anyone can predict when this disease will disappear,’ he added.

 

IMF called on to cancel debt for developing countries

More than 300 politicians from around the world on Wednesday urged the International Monetary Fund and World Bank to cancel the debt of the poorest countries in response to the coronavirus pandemic and to boost funding to avert a global economic meltdown.

 

IMF says worst is yet to come for economy

Kristalina Georgieva, the organisation’s managing director, said that it was likely to cut its global growth forecasts as the pandemic was hitting countries even harder than expected.

 

Mental health issues exposed by pandemic says UN

Decades of neglect and underinvestment in addressing people’s mental health needs have been exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the UN said, in a call for ambitious commitments from countries in the way they treat psychological illness, amid a potential global spike in suicides and drug abuse.

 

Cybersecurity Impact

Coronavirus lures used to deliver LokiBot info-stealer

Researchers have identified two campaigns attempting to deliver LokiBot via emails including ARJ attachments containing executables hidden as PDF files, with both utilising a coronavirus theme. 

 

UK emergency coronavirus hospital contractors hit by cyberattacks

Interserve and Bam Construct, which helped build NHS Nightingale hospitals, were targeted in two separate cyberattacks. This comes shortly after the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) had warned of attempted attacks against healthcare and research organisations.

 

FBI and CISA warn that Chinese groups are targeting research organisations

They warned that treat actors associated with China, and ‘non-traditional collectors’ are targeting coronavirus related research. The warning stated that the targets of these attacks operate in health care, pharmaceutical, and research sectors. 

 

Cofense identity multiple phishing emails using coronavirus-theme

Cofense’s weekly roundup of malicious emails found in mailboxes protected by Secure Email Gateways (SEGs) contained several coronavirus-themed messages. The attackers, who sought to acquire recipients’ credentials, posed as public health agencies, the IRS, banks, and other organisations. 

 

 

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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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