While investors have been too distracted by the violence and unrest unfolding in the streets of the US (and now several European cities, with more unrest expected in Hong Kong) to care much about the coronavirus outbreak. We suspect this shift in focus has helped fuel the market’s astonishing rally over the last two weeks.
There’s no question that the US has been transfixed by the tumult sparked by the police murder of George Floyd, even as the violence and looting has mostly hurt black communities and black-owned small businesses, while the legal system has dutifully proceeded with the prosecution of all four officers involved in the killing.
Investors ignore these developments at their own peril: because over the last few days, a surge in new cases and deaths reported in Russia, Brazil and Mexico has breathed new life into the international outbreak, even as many Americans speculate that perhaps President Trump had a point when he said the virus might run its course by the summer, lockdown or no lockdown.
More experts cast doubt on Russia’s figures as its case total hit 441,108, as St Petersburg recorded 1,400 more deaths than average in May, according to official statistics cited by the Times of London, which which suggest that the government may have deliberately suppressed the true number of deaths. Officials say 177 people died last month of Covid-19 in St Petersburg, Russia’s second-biggest city. The majority of the “excess” deaths were likely to have been a result of pneumonia caused by coronavirus, even though many were labeled simply as pneumonia.
Globally, coronavirus cases topped 6.5 million as of Thursday morning, while deaths neared 400k, at 386,464.
According to figures released Thursday morning, Russia’s total number of infections passed 440,000 cases, while deaths continue to mount. The coronavirus death tolls in Brazil and Mexico have soared to new daily records, with 1,349 and 1,092 confirmed deaths reported over the past day, even as the countries begin to ease lockdown restrictions. Brazil now has more than 32,000 deaths, while Mexico ha more than 11,000.
At least two US senators have accused China of hiding potentially critical data from the WHO, data that could have changed the course of the outbreak abroad, even as a Chinese officias deny reports about the WHO’s frustrations with prying early data from Chinese experts.
As backlash to the hydroxychloroquine backlash intensifies, a new study published by the NEJM claimed the drug “proved ineffective” for that purpose in a study that tested people who were “in close contact with the disease”. We’re not sure what that means. However, the Lancet’s decision to retract a warning about hydroxychloroquine elicited a triumphant editorial from WSJ, which outlines the history of how bias appears to have tinged the world’s interpretation of these studies.
France’s Bastille Day military parade is set to be replaced by a ceremony on the Place de la Concorde square in central Paris, President Emmanuel Macron’s office announced on Thursday, angering millions of French citizens, who enthusiastically celebrate the dawn of the first French Republic every year.
China appears to have turned the other cheek after the US officially barred the return of Chinese airlines running flights in the US, China’s aviation authority said that 95 foreign airlines that have suspended services to China can now apply to resume flights.
While the UK continues to resist pressure to start reopening its borders, Spanish Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto said that all restrictions to border crossings with France and Portugal will be lifted beginning on June 22.
Hong Kong confirmed five new cases on Thursday, all of which it claimed were imported. But that number belies the alarm that prompted the evacuation of some tenants from a Sha Tin building after six people living in the building had tested positive “preliminarily”. We’re waiting to hear more on that.
Pakistan, meanwhile, registered its highest single-day rise in coronavirus cases for the third consecutive day on Wednesday, with 4,801 new cases taking the country’s total tally to 85,264.