This article was updated on 6 April 2020.
- Ireland's Prime Minister re-registers a medical practitioner to help fight coronavirus in his country.
- Spain to implement universal basic income scheme as unemployment rises.
- Here's what countries are doing around the world are doing to tackle coronavirus.
Across the globe, there have been more than 1.2 million confirmed coronavirus COVID-19 coronavirus cases, as of 6 April.
The new coronavirus has been characterized as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus explained: "Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly. It is a word that, if misused, can cause unreasonable fear, or unjustified acceptance that the fight is over, leading to unnecessary suffering and death.
"Describing the situation as a pandemic does not change WHO’s assessment of the threat posed by this virus. It doesn’t change what WHO is doing, and it doesn’t change what countries should do."
As new cases continue to be confirmed around the world, here’s a glimpse of the measures being taken to contain the outbreak.
What is the World Economic Forum doing about the coronavirus outbreak?
A new strain of Coronavirus, COVID 19, is spreading around the world, causing deaths and major disruption to the global economy.
Responding to this crisis requires global cooperation among governments, international organizations and the business community, which is at the centre of the World Economic Forum’s mission as the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation.
The Forum has created the COVID Action Platform, a global platform to convene the business community for collective action, protect people’s livelihoods and facilitate business continuity, and mobilize support for the COVID-19 response. The platform is created with the support of the World Health Organization and is open to all businesses and industry groups, as well as other stakeholders, aiming to integrate and inform joint action.
As an organization, the Forum has a track record of supporting efforts to contain epidemics. In 2017, at our Annual Meeting, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) was launched – bringing together experts from government, business, health, academia and civil society to accelerate the development of vaccines. CEPI is currently supporting the race to develop a vaccine against this strand of the coronavirus.
On 17 March, European leaders agreed to close the European Union's external borders. Only essential travel will be allowed for at least a month - but the ban doesn't affect trade.
It followed Slovakia, Malta and the Czech Republic announcing they would close off their borders to fellow EU member states in an effort to contain the outbreak.
Switzerland, not a member of the EU but part of the European Schengen free-trade agreement, has tightened border controls with its neighbours. Geneva closed commercial activities and banned meetings of more than five people, as well as religious services.
France went into lockdown on 17 March, with President Emmanuel Macron saying people should only leave home to buy groceries, travel to work, exercise or receive medical care. It will deploy 100,000 troops to enforce the new rules.
On 20 March, the country known for its Tour de France cycle race, went a step further and banned recreational cycling. It also ruled that people could only exercise within a mile (2km) of their homes.
The UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has tested positive for COVID-19, outlined the strictest measures for the country yet on 23 March, which amounted to a partial lockdown. He said people could only leave home to buy essential food and medicine, to exercise once a day, and travel to work where "absolutely necessary".
He banned public gatherings of more than two people and ordered the immediate closure of shops selling non-essential goods. The new measures came at the end of the first day of school closures, as many parents were coming to terms with homeschooling.
In a bid to draft extra health-workers to tackle the outbreak, letters have been sent to more than 65,000 retired doctors and nurses in England and Wales asking them to return to the country's National Health Service.
London's ExCel Centre has been converted into a temporary hospital and is expected to be in partial use from this week. There are similar plans for Birmingham's NEC and Manchester's Central Convention Centre, which are set to be in use from April.
On 3 April, the NHS announced two more field hospitals, taking the total to five - a 1,000-patient facility at a university in Bristol, south-west England, and a 500-bed facility at a conference centre in Harrogate, Yorkshire.
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar is returning to his roots as a doctor and has re-registered as a medical practitioner. The move is connected with the Health Service Executive's “Be on call for Ireland” campaign, which has attracted 70,000 interested healthcare professionals. Varadkar, who was a doctor for seven years before entering politics, will be on duty for one shift per week, handling telephone assessments.
Meanwhile, in an effort to help slow the virus’ spread, Norwegians were asked to return home from their holiday mountain cabins. The recommendation was made to ensure smaller municipalities could support their core populations. Anyone caught breaking their quarantine or self-isolation at home could face a fine or imprisonment, according to new guidelines from the Norwegian government.
A plan to provide universal basic income (UBI) is being readied in Spain, as the government continues to battle Europe’s second-largest COVID-19 outbreak and the knock-on effect for unemployment. Nadia Calvino, the Economy Minister has also said the government hopes to see UBI become a permanent fixture.
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On 28 March, deaths in Italy passed 10,000 and confirmed cases reached 92,000, overtaking China. After the figures were announced, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced more economic measures to help those worst affected.
Nationwide restrictions on travel are in place and all shops - apart from food stores and pharmacies - are closed, as are schools, gyms, museums, cafes, restaurants and nightclubs.
On 21 March, as the country announced nearly 800 deaths in a single day, Italy expanded its lockdown by ordering the closing of all non-essential businesses and factories. The government has also called in the military to enforce the lockdown.
However, one town in the worst-hit northern region of Italy has managed to slow the spread by experimenting with blanket testing. Vò, near Venice, began testing its entire population of 3,300 people when the pandemic began.
It imposed strict quarantine on those infected and their contacts and, as of 13 March, the town has not registered any new cases.
Spain on 14 March announced a 15-day state of emergency, ordering bars, restaurants and most shops to close, and restricting transport. As of 25 March, the country was the second worst hit in Europe - behind Italy - with more than 3,000 deaths.
The government in Portugal is granting citizenship rights to migrants and asylum seekers whose residency applications are being processed. It means they will have access to social security and health care, while the country battles the spread of coronavirus.
On 29 March, the number of confirmed cases in the country stood at 5,962, with 119 deaths. The army has been distributing food to the homeless in capital Lisbon.
Many other European countries have closed schools, urged people who can to work from home to do so and banned mass gatherings.
On 16 March, Germany closed its borders with France, Austria and Switzerland, except for commercial traffic. The cities of Berlin and Cologne have closed all bars, clubs, cinemas, theatres and concert halls.
Governments and businesses are taking steps to mitigate the impact on business and to help provide essential equipment. The Danish government announced that until 9 June the government would pay 75% of employees' salaries for private companies who are struggling, providing they didn't cut staff.
"If there's a big drop in activity, and production is halted, we understand the need to send home employees. But we ask you: Don't fire them," Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen told a news conference on 15 March.
In Ireland, on 21 March, the government announced that private hospitals would become part of the public health system. "There can be no room for public versus private" in the current crisis, explained health minister Simon Harris.
The US has the highest number of cases in the world, as of 29 March. A $2.2 trillion economic stimulus package was signed into law on 27 March with measures to support individuals, businesses and the public sector.
The US has urged people to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people, superseding the advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on 15 March, which asked Americans to cancel or postpone gatherings of 50 people or more over the next 8 weeks.
On 20 March, California ordered its 40 million residents to stay at home, as modelling showed without action more than half of them would contract the virus in two months, requiring nearly 20,000 more hospital beds than the state could provide.
On 15 March, New York City closed nightclubs, movie theaters, small theater houses and concert venues. Restaurants can continue to operate, but from 17 March, they could do take-out business only. As cases continued to rise, New York mandated the closing of all non-essential businesses in the state by Sunday 22 March.
Nearly one-in-four Americans have been ordered to stay at home at this point. On 24 March, the WHO warned that the US might become the centre of the outbreak as cases continued to climb. Anyone who has traveled through New York has been advised to self-isolate for two weeks.
Trump initially said US businesses would be reopening by Easter, but on 29 March, he extended the stay-at-home guidelines to the end of April. The revised measures followed a warning from a top medical adviser that more than 100,000 Americans could die from the coronavirus outbreak.
On 2 April, Trump invoked the Defense Production Act to help companies making ventilators receive the supply of materials they need.
The move came after state officials and health experts said the US would need tens of thousands of additional ventilators to treat patients with COVID-19.
Meanwhile, Canada on 16 March closed its borders to anyone who is not a citizen or permanent resident.
In January, Wuhan, China, which is home to more than 11 million people, was the first city to go into lockdown, with buses, trains and flights out of the city cancelled. The restrictions were extended to other cities in Hubei province, creating a huge quarantine zone of around 50 million people.
On 11 March, some key industries in Wuhan were told they could resume, a day after Chinese President Xi Jinping visited for the first time since the outbreak began.
On 27 March, China announced a temporary ban on visitors, as confirmed cases of imported coronavirus rose.
South Korea - where an outbreak surged at around the same time as Italy’s - has reported the number of people recovering from the virus has outpaced new infections for the first time.
On 30 March, an undisclosed government document seen by Reuters showed South Korea had carried out a tabletop exercise for the containment of a fictional disease on 17 December, almost exactly a month before the first patient of COVID-19 appeared.
During the exercise, the team of experts at the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) developed an algorithm to find the pathogen and its origin, as well as testing techniques - which have helped them tackle coronavirus since it emerged.
Hong Kong, meanwhile, stepped up its travel restrictions. From 13 March, all arrivals from Italy, and parts of France, Germany, and Japan were put under mandatory quarantine for 14 days.
At the same time, Taiwan, China announced plans to ramp up the manufacturing of medical protective masks - in a bid to supply 100,000 masks per week to the United States.
On 24 March, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced the postponement of the Olympic Games, which were due to be held in Tokyo in July.
Abe and International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach agreed to the year-long delay - a first in the history of the modern Games - with Abe telling reporters they will be held by the summer of 2021.
Saudi Arabia imposed a curfew on 23 March - to keep people indoors between 7pm and 6am for 21 days.
Dubai-based Emirates Airline announced it would suspend passenger flights from 25 March for a two-week period, which could be renewed. It came after the United Arab Emirates stopped all inbound and outbound and transit passenger flights - although cargo operations will continue.
India's 1.3 billion people are in lockdown, as of 25 March. All non-essential businesses have been shut, and people have been ordered to stay at home. The country had already received praise from the WHO for taking "fast and aggressive" action to limit the spread, including encouraging social distancing.
“I have been quite impressed with India,” Dr. Henk Bekedam, the WHO's representative in India, told the New York Times.
“From the onset they’ve been taking it very seriously.”
“Apart from ensuring the safe return of hundreds of Indians from China, Iran and other countries, the Indian government has taken decisive measures to contain community spread,” said Sriram Gutta, Head of Community Development, India and South Asia at the World Economic Forum.
On March 27, India announced a $22.6 billion economic stimulus plan to provide relief to millions of poor people hit by the nationwide lockdown. It will include direct cash transfers and food security measures.
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On 18 March, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared a national human biosecurity emergency and announced new measures including an indefinite new ban on indoor groups of 100 people or more, with exemptions for schools, public transport, universities, prisons, courts, supermarkets and worksites.
He also urged people not to panic-buy, saying hoarding was "un-Australian".
Australia has banned entry to anyone from mainland China, Korea, Iran and Italy. The chief medical officer of Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales, said models suggested 5% of the state’s population - some 350,000 people - would need hospital treatment as a result of coronavirus.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the country would go into a month-long lockdown from 23:59 on 25 March.
Schools, businesses and all-but-essential services would be required to close down to stem the spread of infection, as confirmed cases rose past 100.
Ardern said: “The worst-case scenario is simply intolerable, it would represent the greatest loss of New Zealanders’ lives in our history and I will not take that chance.”
She had previously announced everyone arriving in the country will have to isolate themselves for 14 days.
Nations in South and Central America have also increased measures to contain the infection. Panama has banned entry of non-resident foreigners and Honduras closed its borders to passenger traffic for a week.
The World Economic Forum's Head of Business Engagement, Latin America, Silvio Dulinsky, said as reported cases leapt from 100 in just over a week across the region, it was stepping up action.
"Currently more than 10 countries already have closed their borders allowing only nationals and residents to enter (and stay in quarantine)."
But he added that experts were raising questions on the effectiveness of the measures as the virus is already spreading among the population in the countries.
"At this stage, the only effective measure is to minimize social contact among residents."
Trade was not affected by the border closures, to avoid further disruption to the countries' economies, and some governments were exploring ways to collaborate, which Dulinsky said was good news.
"In a region that can benefit so much from further integration this might be an unexpected positive side-benefit of this terrible tragedy."
The South African government declared a national disaster on 15 March and banned travel to the most-affected countries, amid concerns that coronavirus will derail economic recovery. Kenya has also imposed sweeping travel restrictions.
African countries are adapting lessons from Ebola, says Elsie Kanza, Head of Africa at the World Economic Forum.
"While young adults seem to suffer less with the virus, we could still see increased strain on healthcare systems. Limiting the spread of the virus will be important."
The African Centre for Disease Control – the pan-African authority on public health created to respond to Ebola – has been supporting countries with the repurposing of screenings, surveillance systems and isolation wards for COVID-19. Forty-three countries can currently test for the virus.
Economically, there are multiple concerns, says Kanza.
"With a global market slowdown, governments are likely to be looking at how to buffer the economic impact of the spread of this virus.
"We are likely to see a temporary hit due to the slowdown of European markets – a major trading partner for Africa – but the good news is that China’s factories are starting to switch back on and this could mitigate lasting damage."