Colonial cyberattack; Taiwan COVID measures; UK economic recover

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Today on The Leaders' Brief -

  • Last week, all of the southeastern USA faced a severe fuel shortage, with three states, North Carolina, Virginia, and Florida declaring a state of emergency. The situation is largely being blamed on a cyberattack that forced the Colonial Pipeline Company, which transports about 45 per cent of all petrol and diesel on the USA’s east coast through its 8,850 km pipeline network, to shut down operations on May 7. Apart from threatening a fuel price surge, and exposing the vulnerability of the USA’s cyberinfrastructure, the attack has caused fresh friction between Washington and the Kremlin.

  • Taiwan is expected to raise its COVID-19 alert level this week, according to a statement made by the country’s Health Minister Chen Shih-Chung. The Taiwanese health minister’s comment in parliament describing the country’s COVID situation as being very serious came as Taipei reported 16 local COVID cases, its highest single-day surge since the beginning of the pandemic, last Wednesday. Mr Shih-chung urged people to be more vigilant and businesses to tighten their disease prevention measures. A day before his comment, the country had reported six new cases prompting the Taiwanese government to tighten rules on public gatherings.

  • The United Kingdom reported a stronger-than-expected economic growth of 2.1% in March from February, indicating the possibility of a sharp bounce-back post the COVID crisis. According to official figures, the country’s economy contracted by only 1.5% in the first quarter this year. The figure is extremely encouraging for the United Kingdom and its trade partners, particularly because the contraction was reported at a time Britain was, for a large part, under strict lockdown measures due to a second COVID wave. March’s 2.1% growth, however, comes from Britain starting to ease some restrictions in that month.

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