• In this daily round-up, we'll bring you a selection of the latest news updates on the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, as well as tips and tools to help you stay informed and protected.
  • Today's big stories: French President Emmanuel Macron warns the EU will face a "moment of truth"; China releases revised numbers; and war-ravaged north-east Syria records its first death.

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.

1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe

In the past week, reported cases across the African continent spiked 51% and deaths jumped 60%. Despite the rise, containment was still possible, said World Health Organization officials at a briefing Friday. The message was in response to a question from an African journalist during the briefing question and answer session.

To be sure, officials noted, hard work was ahead. Containment will require adequate testing, handwashing solutions in areas without running water and making treatment centers available to care for patients appropriately. “It's going to be a hard fight," said Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO Technical Lead.

Still, the continent had proven capalities to fight epidemics and engage communities to battle outbreaks. “I don't want you to lose hope,” added Van Kerkhove. “Containment is possible."

The Kurdish-led administration in Syria’s north-east announced on Friday that the World Health Organization found the region's first death from coronavirus. The case was reported on 2 April after samples were tested in Damascus, according to Reuters. Relief organisations have expressed concern about the pandemic reaching the north-east and north-west of Syria, where years of conflict have left the social fabric in ruins. "There isn't the health system to take care of people," International Rescue Committee chief David Miliband said in a recent interview with the World Economic Forum. "Whether in a camp setting in the north-east or under trees and in tents in the north-west, Syria is undoubtedly at grave risk of the disease running riot."

Denmark relaxed restrictions earlier this week, reopening schools and daycare centres. Still, some parents are choosing to keep their children at home, says Reuters, concerned that these facilities will spur a second wave of cases. Denmark's Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen defended the move to reopen, saying it was undertaken within health authority recommendations, and that it would help “get the economy going again”.

Lockdown has had profound impact on society, including the world of work, as well as our mental and physical well-being. Organizational psychologist Adam Grant explained to Ross Chainey on our World Vs Virus podcast that this shift could bring unexpected benefits. Leaders can learn how to focus less on their staff's schedules and more on their strengths and motivations. Workers, meanwhile, can recognize their own resilience and be kinder to themselves a they find a new work-life balance.

Around the world, animals have taken over shutdown cities. Residents in the Thai city of Lopburi (northeast of Bangkok) have reported brawls between monkeys, while sika deer trawl streets in Japan and goats wander the streets in Llandudno, North Wales. In some cases, animals are experiencing renewed freedoms, but in others animals who depended on tourists for sustenance are struggling to eat as visitor numbers plummet. “Our new habits are altering the urban environment in ways that are likely to be both positive and negative for nature,” says Becky Thomas, senior Teaching Fellow in Ecology at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Wild goats have taken to the quiet streets of Llandudno, North Wales.
Wild goats have taken to the quiet streets of Llandudno, North Wales.
Image: Ian Jones