Threat Reports

COVID-19 Threat Digest #51, 22 May 2020




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Actions by Governments

  • Argentina extends its debt negotiation until June 2 (elPerió
  • Australia extends cruise ship ban to September (Straits Times)
  • Australia’s most-populous state to let 50 people in pubs, cafes (Bloomberg)
  • Brazil Is the new epicenter of the global coronavirus pandemic (Yahoo! News)
  • Brazilian President Bolsonaro says country is on the verge of reopening trade (Terra Brasil)
  • China drops GDP target for first time in wake of coronavirus (Financial Times)
  • French government minister Bruno Le Maire says Renault Flins site “must not close” (Libération)
  • India’s central bank unexpectedly cuts rates to mitigate virus impact (Reuters)
  • Japan raises travel advisory for India, 10 other countries (Mainichi JP)
  • Japan to ban resale of sanitizers above purchase price amid coronavirus crisis (Japan Times)
  • Mexico City will begin gradually reopening June 1, mayor says (LA Times)
  • Russian government will direct 25 billion rubles to support the automotive industry (Regnum.Ru)
  • South Africa tax agency issues FAQs on accelerated VAT refunds due to coronavirus (Bloomberg Law)
  • Sweden tries to calm neighboring countries: Swedes can become the safest guests (Berlingske)
  • Swedish experts dismiss relevance of statistics for only one week that show Sweden having the world’s highest per capita death rate from COVID-19 (
  • UK arrivals could be fined for breaking quarantine under new travel plan (BBC)
  • UK government deal secures 10 million ‘game changer’ antibody tests (Yahoo! Finance)
  • UK government spent over £50m on digital response to Covid-19 pandemic (
  • US – Fauci warns calling vaccine hunt ‘Operation Warp Speed’ over fears anti-vaxxers will exploit it (Mail Online UK)
  • US government announces additional US $2.5 million in COVID-19 related assistance for Brazil (US Embassy Brazil)
  • WHO’s latest Situation Report (WHO)


Actions by Companies

  • ABB union employees seeking hazard pay during pandemic (Jefferson City News Tribune)
  • AT&T offers virtual ‘externship” program (Multichannel News)
  • Best Buy’s new concierge service is making in-store shopping safer (Fortune blog)
  • Bridgestone temporarily shuts down plants in Japan (IHS Markit)
  • CEMEX Dominicana says goodbye to paper and welcomes electronic invoicing (Diario Libre)
  • Delta Air Lines to install ‘safety barriers’ at check-in lobbies and gates where carrier operates (
  • Electrolux Springfield closes once again due to COVID-19 cases (WKRN)
  • Equifax introduces new ‘Response DIGITAL’ solutions to bring businesses online in social distancing economy (PR Newswire)
  • Facebook’s Zuckerberg says half of positions could be permanently remote (WebProNews)
  • Genting Malaysia to retrench 20% of staff force ( Magazine)
  • Google highlights hotels that cater to COVID-19 responders (VentureBeat)
  • Hard Rock Hotel & Casino reopens to long lines: ‘It’s about time we can really live’ (Sacramento Bee)
  • IBM to cut thousands of jobs as coronavirus plays out (FOX Business)
  • Kroger Health offers free telenutrition service to promote healthy, affordable eating (PR Newswire)
  • Luxottica gives employees free swabs and proximity badges (MSN Italy)
  • Macy’s warns of $1B 1Q loss, but says financing is ‘on track’ (
  • Mastercard joins ID2020 Alliance for digital identity solutions (IBS Intelligence)
  • Nissan looks to cut over 20,000 jobs worldwide (Mainichi JP)
  • NVIDIA earnings rise, as coronavirus lifts games and remote services (
  • SABIC provides raw material to support domestic production of 50,000 Covid-19 test kits every day in India (Hindu Business Line)
  • Samsung Biologics signs $231 mln supply deal with GSK (Yahoo! Finanzen Deutschland)
  • Samsung partners Facebook to help offline retailers go digital (Hindustan Times)
  • Shell plans voluntary job losses to mitigate impact of oil slump (Bloomberg-Quint)
  • Spotify allows its employees to continue work from home until 2021 (Dailyhunt)
  • SSAB extends temporary Finland layoffs on deteriorating market (Kallanish)
  • Standard Bank launches a digitised escrow service in South Africa (SME Tech Guru)
  • Universal Orlando becomes the first Florida theme park to announce plans to reopen (Mail Online UK)
  • Wesfarmers in Australia to shut or rebrand over 100 Target stores in virus slump (Reuters)


Second Wave Risk & Mitigation

  • Canada – concern that Ontario, Quebec reopened too soon as COVID-19 cases continue (CBC)
  • China is hoarding PPE again as it braces for COVID-19’s “second wave” (Zero Hedge)
  • India reports biggest 24-hour rise in coronavirus cases as lockdown eases (Straits Times)
  • Malaysia – thousands ignore travel ban to head home for Eid celebrations (South China Morning Post)
  • Russian experts have identified the possible timing of country’s second wave of coronavirus (Izvestia)
  • UK – could there be a second wave? (BBC News Video)
  • UK – How can the UK avoid a second wave of coronavirus? (
  • US – Fear of second wave of covid-19 looms over southern states (Devdiscourse)
  • US – Florida theme parks getting ready to reopen with anti-coronavirus measures (NPR)
  • US – Trump says he will not close country if there is a second wave of coronavirus (The Hill)


Drugs, Treatments & Vaccines

Coronavirus antibody tests to be available for people who need them in the UK

Coronavirus will soon be available for free on the NHS, a Downing Street spokesman has said, after a deal on their supply was reached. 


Atea Pharmaceuticals secures clearance for Covid-19 trial

The approval will allow the company to assess the safety and efficacy of the drug in a Phase II clinical trial for adult patients hospitalised due to moderate Covid-19 and have one or more risk factors for poor outcomes. 


Blood test could reveal how the immune system responds to coronavirus

Based on the detailed preliminary analysis of 60 COVID-19 patients at St Thomas’ Hospital, the team has identified an ‘immunological signature’ of the disease. Within this, a small set of factors, or clues, could be used to identify the patients most likely to do worse and require additional treatment.


Study: Detection of SARS-CoV-2 in human breastmilk

It remains unclear whether SARS-CoV-2 can be shed into breastmilk and transmitted to a child through breastfeeding. Recent investigations have found no evidence of SARS-CoV-2 in human breastmilk, but sample sizes were small.


HIV drugs in clinical trials to treat COVID-19

All the HIV protease inhibitors have scored well in COVID-19 docking studies—meaning that, in these computer simulations at least, they fit in the pocket well enough to stop the virus from replicating.


Researchers plan to use machine learning methods to estimate COVID-19 seasonal cycle

The goal of the research is to predict how environmental factors influence the transmission of the virus across each county in the United States. It will also utilize existing public health data including climate, weather factors, population mobility dynamics and public health interventions.


Study: One in six have had COVID-19 in London, one in 20 across UK

At least 5% of people in the UK have now developed COVID-19 antibodies, with the number rising to 17% in London, a study has found. Health Secretary Matt Hancock gave the results of the study at the government’s daily coronavirus update, as he announced plans for antibody certificates.


WHO recommends hydroxychloroquine only be used in clinical trials

A top World Health Organization (WHO) official said it remains unclear whether hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug, is effective in treating or preventing coronavirus and stressed that it should only be administered in clinical trials.


Obesity triples odds of more severe symptoms with COVID-19

In two cohorts of Chinese adults with COVID-19, those with obesity were at least three times more likely to have a severe case of the disease than those with normal weight, according to two studies published in Diabetes Care.


CDC: Virus ‘does not spread easily’ from contaminated surfaces or animals

The coronavirus primarily spreads from person to person and not easily from a contaminated surface. That is the takeaway from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which this month updated its “How COVID-19 Spreads” website.


Societal and Economic Impact

UK could give immunity certificates to Covid-19 survivors

Matt Hancock suggested on Thursday that giving survivors proof of immunity could help ease Brits back to normality – after suggesting almost four million are thought to have recovered from Covid-19.


CDC acknowledges mixing up coronavirus testing data

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) acknowledged Thursday that it is combining the results from viral and antibody COVID-19 tests when reporting the country’s testing totals, despite marked differences between the tests.


Flexible working will be a new normal after virus

Facebook and New Zealand’s Prime Minister are the latest supporters of flexible working as companies mull back-to-office strategies.


UK scientific advisor: Acting earlier would have saved lives

Sir Ian Boyd, who sits on the Sage scientific advisory group, said “it would have made quite a big difference” to the death rate. He described the UK and other European countries as “a bit slower off the mark” and less prepared than countries that had experienced Sars in the early 2000s.


US: Earlier coronavirus lockdown ‘could have saved 36,000 lives’

The Columbia University research also estimated that around 83% of deaths could have been avoided if measures had been taken two weeks earlier. It suggested that 54,000 fewer people would have died had cities begun locking down on 1 March.


Mississippi church fighting coronavirus restrictions burned to the ground

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said he’s “heartbroken and furious” after a fire this week at a church that has challenged coronavirus restrictions. The fire is being investigated as arson.


Report: Coronavirus not under control in the US

Scientists at Imperial College London have warned that relaxing the lockdowns further now in the US could result in another surge in deaths.


Nearly half of the Twitter accounts discussing ‘Reopening America’ may be bots

To analyze bot activity around the pandemic, CMU researchers since January have collected more than 200 million tweets discussing coronavirus or COVID-19. Of the top 50 influential retweeters, 82% are bots, they found. Of the top 1,000 retweeters, 62% are bots.


California doctors say they’ve seen more deaths from suicide than coronavirus since lockdowns

“The numbers are unprecedented,” Dr. Mike deBoisblanc of John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek, California, told ABC 7 News about the increase of suicide deaths adding that he’s seen a “year’s worth of suicides” in the last four weeks alone.


Gun group threatens to descend on Texas town after sheriff arrests COVID-19 protesters

The vice president of gun rights group Open Carry Texas warned Ector County Sheriff on Thursday that when he returns to Odessa, he is going to bring 150 men with him.


Geopolitical Impact

Attorneys: State unlawfully withholding COVID-19 information, using false facts

Attorneys for media outlets believe the state is unlawfully withholding long-term care COVID-19 data and argue the state is using undeniably false facts and mischaracterizations to withhold vital information from the public, according to newly-filed court documents.


Baltimore mayor urges Trump to scrap visit due to coronavirus lockdown order

The Baltimore mayor is urging Trump to reconsider his planned visit to the Fort McHenry National Monument on Monday because the city remains under a stay-at-home order.


UK seeks to end reliance on Chinese imports

British PM Boris Johnson has told civil servants to draw up plans for how the UK can end its reliance on China for vital medical supplies and other key imports.


Cybersecurity Impact

FBI gives US companies details of attacks against health care sector

The advisory stated that nation-state attackers shifted their cyber resources to target the health care and public health sector, whereas criminals targeted similar entities for financial gain. The FBI stated that this shift could likely be attributed to the coronavirus pandemic.


North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit announce breach related to coronavirus dashboard

The North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit coronavirus dashboard inadvertently displayed personally identifiable information, including first and last names, testing date and locations, test results, and more. The health agency stated that the information could only be accessed after a user carried out a number of actions that were not immediately obvious. 



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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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