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Lockdowns Lift But Infection Surge Still a Threat

Ruth Pollard

(Bloomberg) --

Political leaders across the globe are surveying the smoking wrecks of their economies and trying to find a way to lift their virus lockdowns, allow citizens to leave their homes and get businesses up and running again. But when is the right time and under what conditions? 

With the constant threat of a second wave of infections and growing tensions between the U.S. and China over who is to blame for the global pandemic there are no easy answers, particularly as the jobless rate continues to rise. But there are lessons from past epidemics — like Ebola — to help shield vulnerable African countries, as well as business opportunities for those willing to lure companies away from Beijing while its trade war with Washington drags on.

Dig deeper into these and other topics with the latest edition of Weekend Reads. 

Trump Goes All In on Vaccine and May Still Get Beaten by ChinaWhen the Soviet Union put the first man into space in 1961, the shock to America’s self-confidence was electric. If China should be first to produce a successful vaccine against the coronavirus, U.S. prestige is likely to suffer a similar blow, Marc Champion reports.

Lawsuits Against China Escalate Covid-19 Blame Game With U.S.Trump has joined a chorus of calls for China to pay damages from the Covid-19 pandemic, as Sheridan Prasso explains. His remarks follow several bills proposed by Republican members of Congress seeking to strip China of its sovereign immunity protection in U.S. courts, potentially leaving Beijing open to billion dollar lawsuits.

Cold, Crowded, Deadly: Virus Stalks Workers at U.S. Meat PlantsMarch was a time of spreading disease and denial across the U.S. meat and poultry industry. Laborers in the immense slaughterhouses passed the contagion on processing lines and in locker rooms, then in their homes. As Peter Waldman, Lydia Mulvany and Polly Mosendz report, the toll on workers and the nation’s food supply is only now becoming clear.

Layoffs Start Turning From Temporary to Permanent Across AmericaWith a history going back to 1881, the Michigan Maple Block Co. has long been a fixture in the small northern town of Petoskey. Yet it will soon close and lay off all 56 workers. It points to a worrying trend, Shawn Donnan and Joe Deaux report, with furloughs that just a month ago were labeled “temporary” now tagged “indefinite” or “permanent.”

The Man Who Put Lula in Jail May Become Bolsonaro’s NemesisThe legal star who brought down a ring of corrupt politicians and business leaders in Brazil is back in the hunt. Sergio Moro’s challenge now is to prove his allegations against Jair Bolsonaro — even if it means the possible impeachment of another Brazilian president, as Simone Iglesias and Samy Adghirni explain.

She’s 35 and Finance Minister and Suddenly a Rock Star in PeruEveryone calls her Toni. Mothers take selfies of her with their children, and street hawkers push bracelets into her hand as presents. Artists sketch her portrait and post them to social media. TV networks vie for interviews and run profiles asking, “Who is Maria Antonieta Alva? John Quigley profiles Peru’s finance minister.

Why the U.K. Virus App Could Be Another Pandemic MisstepThe U.K. took its own route into a coronavirus lockdown, and now appears to be pursuing its own route out as well. As Suzi Ring and Robert Hutton explain, the government has developed a contact-tracing mobile-phone app that works differently from those favored by many other countries whose technology is supported by Google and Apple.

India Looks to Lure More Than 1,000 U.S. Companies Out of ChinaTrump’s move to blame China for its handling of the Covid-19 outbreak is expected to worsen global trade ties as companies and governments move resources out of the world’s second-largest economy to diversify supply chains. India is looking to capitalize on that, as Archana Chaudhary reports.

China Risks Further Isolation in Backing Africa’s Coal ProjectsFor more than two decades, Zimbabwe has been trying to break ground on a giant coal-power complex. China just agreed to get the $4.2 billion project underway, but as Antony Sguazzin, Godfrey Marawanyika and Jing Li write, Beijing’s involvement in coal is isolating it further from the rest of the world.

Jokowi’s Make-or-Break Moment Maps Path for Asia’s Next StarAs the pandemic challenges Indonesia like never before, President Joko Widodo’s commitment to economic reform is being tested. As Karlis Salna explains, how quickly Indonesia recovers, and how authorities respond to the crisis, will determine if the nation can live up to its promise of becoming one of the world’s biggest economies.

Trudeau’s Liberal Ideals Now Face a Fundamental ChallengeThe Canadian leader’s transformation from social reformer to crisis manager was going well until now. But as Kait Bolongaro reports, news that one in four workers have either lost their jobs or seen their hours sharply cut since the virus hit likely quashed any sense of satisfaction. It’s also potentially derailed the progressive agenda Trudeau had hoped to cement in his second term.

As Virus Slows EU Expansion, Aspirants’ Economies Can Still WinThe coronavirus pandemic may be putting European Union enlargement on the back burner, but aspirant Balkan nations could get a welcome dose of economic integration in the meantime. As Gordana Filipovic writes, the countries are ideally placed to become a supplier base for European companies seeking to reduce their reliance on China.

Tell us how we’re doing or what we’re missing at balancepower@bloomberg.net.

And finally ... HIV/Aids, Lassa fever, and tuberculosis are just some of the communicable diseases African health experts are used to dealing with, and many realized the danger of the coronavirus as soon as they saw cases rising in China and Europe. Yet it was the worst-ever Ebola epidemic that killed more than 11,300 people between 2014-16 that was instrumental in changing the response to health emergencies, as Pauline Bax, Michael Kavanagh, and Ougna Camara report.

 

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