Coronavirus continues to spread across the globe. In this daily update, we’ve assembled some of the latest headlines, resources and stories to help you arm yourself with the best information.

1. Social distancing will be key: Academics explain why

Reported cases surged past 127,000 on March 12, prompting more cancellations of everything from flights, to sporting events to college classes. While the reaction to these moves has been mixed, many experts point out that such measures have been effective in slowing some of history's worst outbreaks, including the influenza pandemic of 1918. Read more here.

A tale of two cities amid the devastating Spanish flu outbreak
Image: Slide provided by Michal Caspi Tal, PhD, of Stanford Medical School

2. Colleagues (and their families) could get sick. Plan now for absences.

Safety during the pandemic will take more than just handwashing, says one Red Cross official. Make sure you have a plan for when your colleagues must care for sick family members, to ensure everyone can take the time that’s needed to fight the virus. For more advice, read more here.

What is the World Economic Forum doing about the coronavirus outbreak?

Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic 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.

Since its launch on 11 March, the Forum’s COVID Action Platform has brought together 1,667 stakeholders from 1,106 businesses and organizations to mitigate the risk and impact of the unprecedented global health emergency that is COVID-19.

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.

3. Soap is a coronavirus powerhouse - This chemist explains why

On Twitter this week, a chemist explained why soap is so effective at fighting the virus. In part, he said, the connections between a virus' component parts (proteins, fatty lipids and genetic material) are weak. Soap can help break up particle, dissolving the lipid layer that surrounds the virus, while undoing weak bonds within the virus. Since viruses can stick to crinkles in the skin, vigorous washing for 20 seconds can make sure the soap can do its work. Read more here.

4. During a pandemic, everyone can be a leader

Everyone, no matter what position they hold, can do what’s right. Be an influencer in your organisation by passing on vetted business messages from the WHO, focusing on accuracy and relevance, and encouraging behaviour that helps control the virus. For additional ways you can make change at work, read more here.

What is the World Economic Forum doing about the coronavirus outbreak?

Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic 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.

Since its launch on 11 March, the Forum’s COVID Action Platform has brought together 1,667 stakeholders from 1,106 businesses and organizations to mitigate the risk and impact of the unprecedented global health emergency that is COVID-19.

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.

4. How to (politely) decline a handshake

To keep yourself - and others - safe, consider these tips to politely decline a handshake from manners experts.

  • Put both hands up, playfully, as if you were in a stickup. Explain you have a phobia.
  • Hold your hand over your heart, in an alternative greeting, as if you’re making a pledge.
  • Explain you a have strict no-handshake policy while the virus spreads.
  • Point to a sign declaring your workspace a “handshake-free zone.”

For more tips, read more here.

The World Health Organization is working to bust myths on coronavirus
Image: WHO