• In this round-up, find coronavirus news updates, tips and tools to help you stay informed and protected.
  • US weekly jobless claims hit record once again
  • Top stories: How South Korea contained COVID-19, how the tourism industry has been impacted and why WHO officials are "deeply concerned."

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. US unemployment claims soar to new record high

In a further sign that the COVID-19 pandemic is an economic emergency, not just a public health crisis, figures released today show that the number of people in the US filing for unemployment benefits surged to a record high for the second week in a row.

Jobless claims rose to 6.65 million, up from 3.3 million the previous week, the US Labor Department announced.

The latest figures mean that more Americans have filed for unemployment in the last two weeks than filed in the last six months.

Elsewhere, the latest figures from Spain, which already had one of the euro zone's highest unemployment rates, was similarly bleak. Spain has cut almost 900,000 jobs since it imposed strict measures to fight coronavirus, the highest monthly rise in unemployment ever recorded in the country.

US Jobless claims spike in chart

2. How COVID-19 is impacting the globe

Officials at a World Health Organization briefing Wednesday said they were deeply concerned, noting that confirmed cases have now been reported in nearly every country, territory and area.

"The number of deaths has more than doubled in the past week,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General. “In the next few days we will reach 1 million confirmed."

The Director-General noted that fighting this new virus and the world's first ever first-ever pandemic caused by a coronavirus will take continued resolve. “We have to stand in unison to fight this dangerous virus."

A multi-prong approach was key, explained South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha at a recent virtual World Economic Forum COVID Task Force meeting. The country worked quickly and identified "super spreaders," those who pass the virus to multiple people. Key, however, was taking an all-government approach, mobilizing government ministries as well as regional and city governments. That strategy paid off, especially when it came to limited health care resources.

“When one region ran out of hospital beds we asked other provinces to open up beds in their hospitals," she said. "When it ran out of doctors, we asked doctors in other regions to help."

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha
Image: Reuters

The number of daily flights around the world has decreased significantly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Flight tracking data from website Flightradar24 shows 196,756 flights were tracked on 21 February and just 64,522 on 29 March, a drop of around 67%

COVID-19: Unprecedented decline in air traffic in chart

COVID-19 and influenza vary drastically in a number of ways. Regarding severity, according to the WHO (based on the current available data), 80% of COVID-19 infections are mild or asymptomatic, 15% are severe (requiring oxygen) and 5% are critical (requiring ventilation). These figures are considerably higher than what is typically observed in flu.

COVID-19 is also more deadly than seasonal influenza. The crude mortality rate for COVID-19, based on confirmed cases to date, is currently estimated by the WHO to be between 3-4%, with seasonal influenza sitting well below 0.1%