COVID-19 Threat Digest #47, 18 May 2020
Actions by Governments
- Australian government vindicated’ by global support for coronavirus inquiry (ABC Online)
- Australian government justifies decision to go with AWS for COVIDSafe (ZDNet)
- Australian states under pressure to reopen borders closed in a bid to contain coronavirus (ABC Online)
- Belgian Prime Minister without support from medics over COVID-19 decree (Sky News)
- Brazil – health system in Sao Paulo in danger of collapse amid coronavirus crisis (Straits Times)
- French government will present an automobile support plan within 15 days (Le Point)
- German government looking to lift travel warning, foreign minister days (Bloomberg)
- German government appealed by Berlin senator to recognize Covid-19 as an occupational disease (Aktuelle-nachrichten-online.eu)
- Italian PM Conte says Fiat Chrysler entitled to seek state-backed loan (Reuters)
- South Korean government to explore ways to expand movement of ‘essential’ people among Korea, China, Japan (The Korea Heald)
- Spanish government asks Congress to approve third state of emergency (Click Lancashire)
- UK government invests £131m into VMIC in Oxford to support Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing (Pharmaceutical Technology)
- UK government funds study looking at whether dogs can sniff for COVID-19 (BBC)
- UK Treasury mulling plans for ‘bad bank’ to manage stakes in bailed-out firms (City A.M.)
- US – CDC ‘let the country down’ on coronavirus testing: White House (Yahoo! News)
- US – FEMA Releases State-by-State PPE Data (Homeland Security Today)
- US – House passes HEROES Act for expanded coronavirus funding (National Law review)
- WHO’s latest Situation Report (WHO)
Actions by Companies
- AXA enters healthcare partnership with Accor (Insurance Business UK)
- Accor obtains a new revolving line of credit of 560 million euros (Zonebourse)
- Air Canada cutting “50 to 60%” of workforce due to impact of coronavirus (Daily Hive – Vancouver)
- Aldi UK partners Deliveroo for grocery home delivery (This Is Money)
- Amazon and Flipkart set to resume delivering non-essential goods in India (The Next Web)
- Amazon will start reopening French warehouses on May 19th (Engadget)
- Apple Stores are reopening, but you’ll need a face mask to get inside (CNET News)
- AstraZeneca aims for 30 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine by September (Fortune)
- BAT says potential COVID-19 vaccine using tobacco leaves ready for trials (Click Lancashire)
- Dimension Data to cut 480 jobs in South Africa under brand consolidation (Telecompaper)
- Facebook Gaming sees 238% growth during Covid-19 pandemic (Dailyhunt)
- First Abu Dhabi Bank pauses talks to acquire Bank Audi’s Egypt business: Sources (Al Arabiya)
- GM instructs Mexican suppliers to prepare to resume operations (Reuters: Business News)
- Hilton reopens hotels in China (Business Traveller)
- Impala Platinum in South Africa temporarily closes mine due to Covid-19 outbreak amongst employees (Shanghai Metals Market)
- KT announces collaboration with Gates Foundation on ICT-based Epidemic Preparedness (PR Newswire)
- McDonald’s shuts 12 stores in Australia after truck driver tests positive (Businessnewsaus.com.au)
- Norwegian Air completes emergency equity issue, shares plunge 50% (Devdiscourse)
- Qantas doesn’t need to pay sick leave during COVID-19 pandemic, court rules (ABC Just In)
- Renault finds itself in a situation such that it is difficult to imagine its future without exceptional intervention by the State (Le Monde.fr)
- Ryanair announce extension of limited flight schedule to June 20 (Buzz.ie)
- Sanofi CEO sends email of apologies to employees for vaccines row (Sputnik France)
- Sberbank has registered its own company to create a vaccine against COVID (Eer.ru)
- SoftBank’s Jack Ma resigns amid historic losses (Yahoo! News)
Second Wave Risk & Mitigation
- Australia – Public warned to be on high alert as relaxed coronavirus restrictions lead to ‘great NSW bust out’ (ABC – NSW)
- China – Who is Zhong Nanshan? Top Chinese health expert warns country is vulnerable to second wave of coronavirus (IBTimes Singapore)
- Estonia’s PM says country must be ready for coronavirus second wave (ERR.ee)
- Europe must ‘prepare for a second deadly wave of the coronavirus’, WHO director warns (Mail Online UK)
- Greeks return to beaches in heatwave, but keep umbrellas apart (Reuters)
- Japan COVID-19 doctors lack fresh masks, hazard pay: union survey (Reuters)
- Mexican government’s decision for 269 municipalities to resume activities are shown to put millions at risk by Vulnerability Index (El Universal World)
- Taiwan advised to work with major economies after COVID-19 (Focus Taiwan)
- UK – Split classes, outdoor lessons: what Denmark can teach England about reopening schools after Covid-19 (The Guardian)
- US – As COVID-19 restrictions ease, at least 70% of voters would support same moves to mitigate second wave (The Morning Consult)
- US – Coronavirus cases have yet to spike in US areas reopening, HHS head says (FOXNews.com)
- World – first wave out, second wave in: where the world is on the corona curve (Zero Hedge)
- World – the world is round: shifting supply chains and a fragmented world order (National Interest)
- World – The pandemic’s coming geopolitical second wave (The Atlantic)
Drugs, Treatments & Vaccines
Coronavirus treatment trials are filling up fast as thousands of Australian healthcare workers put their hands up to get them going as quickly as possible.
The team treated and studied more than 150 of some of the UK’s most critically ill patients, with the scans establishing that injury to the lungs was “a lot more apparent” among COVID sufferers than it would be among other patients suffering lung failure.
An additional £84 million ($102 million, 94 million euros) would be made available to “accelerate” efforts to trial and mass-produce a Covid-19 vaccine.
Chinese researchers have successfully identified multiple highly potent neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, from convalescent plasma by high-throughput single-cell sequencing.
The new trial aims to help seriously ill people who are still struggling to develop an immune response to the illness. The plasma donation will be tested to confirm there are antibodies, and once confirmed, antibody-rich plasma can be transfused into patients to help with their recovery.
Plans are being made to investigate the potential of nicotine patches to combat Covid-19 after the idea was raised by doctors at a hospital in Wales where the improvised treatment is being practised.
Plans are in place to roll out a COVID-19 vaccine to 30 million people in the UK by September if trials are successful, Business Secretary Alok Sharma has said.
Societal and Economic Impact
In Stockholm, Uppsala, Örebro, Karlstad, Gävle and Söderhamn there have been protests against the increased violence against women during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Amid increasing frustration over lockdown measures to curb the coronavirus pandemic, multiple protests took place across Europe on Saturday to demand businesses reopen.
In Warsaw, Poland, law enforcement used tear gas on protesters, while police made arrests at a demonstration in London’s Hyde Park.
Regarding the difficulty of living in this scenario, the Public Ministry has made public that violence against women, girls, boys and adolescents has worsened during this period of quarantine. Of the 1,743 cases registered during this period, 1,370 correspond to the crime of family or domestic violence and 94 cases of rape of an infant, child or adolescent.
Bruno Covas said the city’s public hospitals had reached 90% capacity and could run out of space in two weeks. He accused those who flouted lockdown rules of playing “Russian roulette” with people’s lives.
A survey of families in England suggests better-off children will have studied for around seven days more than their poorer peers by next month. Children in the highest-income families spend six hours a day on education, but the poorest spend four and a half.
Half a million access suicide prevention courseThe Zero Suicide Alliance said 503,000 users completed its online course during lockdown. It aims to help spot the signs that a person may need help. It comes as health leaders warned front-line workers tackling coronavirus could suffer from mental ill health.
The economic results remain to be seen, but the indicators related to public health are significantly worse than those of the rest of the Nordic countries.
A growing chorus of countries is calling for a change to Taiwan’s unusual diplomatic purgatory, a result of China’s claim to Taiwan and its insistence that other nations not deal with Taipei. Beijing’s view will be challenged soon, with members of the World Health Organization debating this month whether to resume allowing Taiwan to attend meetings as an observer.
About 100 countries are backing a resolution at the upcoming World Health Assembly (WHA), calling for an independent inquiry into the coronavirus pandemic. It calls for an “impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation” of “the (WHO)-coordinated international health response to Covid-19.”
The Lancet medical journal recently published a scathing, unsigned editorial pleading with U.S. voters to choose a president that will “understand that public health should not be guided by partisan politics,” and slammed Trump for his “inconsistent and incoherent” response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Researchers observed a spear phishing campaign involving emails impersonating the Reserve Bank of India or other large banking organisations, which claim to have details about new RBI guidelines amidst the coronavirus pandemic in an attached zip file, which actually delivers Adwind RAT.
Researchers have reported that API endpoints appear to be targeted by malicious actors more than usual. One attack saw 15 million events aimed at a single login API endpoint for the Android application. The target of these attacks included the Android login API and web login.
The US Secret Service has warned of a Nigerian crime ring exploiting the COVID-19 crisis to engage in large-scale fraud against US state unemployment insurance programmes. The most targeted state is Washington, yet attacks were also observed in North Carolina, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Oklahoma, Wyoming and Florida.
DIICOT announced that the PentaGuard hacker crew planned to pose as government institutions and deliver ransomware to Romanian hospitals via emails that contained coronavirus information. The group planned on using Bad Rabbit and Locky ransomware in their attacks.
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