• This daily roundup brings 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: Coronavirus savages US economy; ILO warns that nearly half of global workforce risk losing livelihoods in pandemic.

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

  • Confirmed cases of coronavirus have 3.1 million worldwide, according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University. Over 217,000 people are known to have died from the virus. More than 915,000 have recovered.

The COVID-19 outbreak continues to savage the US economy.

The world's biggest economy contracted in the first quarter at its sharpest pace since the Great Recession as measures to slow the spread of coronavirus almost shut down the country, ending the longest expansion in the nation’s history, Reuters reports.

US GDP shrank by 4.8% in the first three months of the year, according to the preliminary estimate from the Bureau of Economic Analysis published on Wednesday.

The decline reflected a plunge in economic activity in the last two weeks of March, which saw millions of Americans seeking unemployment benefits. In the last five weeks, over 26 million Americans have filed new jobless claims.

Some 1.6 billion workers in the informal economy, representing nearly half of the global labour force, are in immediate danger of losing their livelihoods due to the coronavirus pandemic, the International Labour Organization (ILO) said.

The UN agency’s latest report sharply raised its forecast for the devastating impact on jobs and incomes of the COVID-19 disease, which has infected more than 3.1 million people globally, killed nearly 220,000 and shut down economies.

“It shows I think in the starkest possible terms that the jobs employment crisis and all of its consequences is deepening by comparison with our estimates of 3 weeks ago,” ILO Director-General Guy Ryder told a briefing, foreseeing a “massive” poverty impact.

Already, wages of the world’s 2 billion informal workers plunged by an estimated global average of 60% in the first month that the crisis unfolded in each region, the ILO said.

“For millions of workers, no income means no food, no security and no future. Millions of businesses around the world are barely breathing,” said Ryder. “They have no savings or access to credit. These are the real faces of the world of work. If we don’t help them now, they will simply perish.”

With millions living in poverty in Pakistan, COVID-19 response has spurred the need for an immediate strategy to protect the most vulnerable. According to a recent article for Agenda, the government has allocated $900 million in emergency cash to help just over 80 million people.

The funds, administered through Pakistan's new poverty alleviation program, will provide eligible families with around $75, enough to provide subsistence nutrition for 4 months. Two weeks in, the program has already helped 5.9 million people. The initiative is considered the most extensive social protection intervention in the history of the country.

5. Here's how dogs could help detect coronavirus in people

Medical detection dogs are being specially trained to help fight coronavirus, according to a recent piece in Business Insider. Doctors say that some respiratory diseases change our body odor so masks from coronavirus patients are being given to dogs to see if there is unique scent they can detect with their heightened sense of smell. While the experiment is still underway, researchers hope to determine if dogs could detect COVID-19 in people.

Could man's best friend could play a role in preventing the spread of coronavirus disease?
Could man's best friend could play a role in preventing the spread of coronavirus disease?
Image: REUTERS/Matthew Childs

Hoping to enlist the widest perspectives on the coronavirus crisis possible, Germany has consulted with philosophers, historians of science, theologians and jurists, according to a recent article in Time Higher Education.

A 26-member group has weighed in on topics such as the recent eased lockdown restrictions, pointing out a range of societal impacts such as education and inequality, and how the public would react if long-term restrictions were put into place.

Jürgen Renn, director of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, said: “The crisis is a complex one, it’s a systemic crisis” and must be dissected from every angle.

7. China is taking these steps to avoid a second wave of COVID-19

To help prevent a second wave of infections in China, new rules have been established stressing the need for mask wearing for those are ill and 1 metre distance markers. The new rules will also discourage public spitting or littering, instituting fines for some infractions. The new rules will go into effect 1 June.