• A daily round-up of the key stories as COVID-19 continues its spread around the world.
  • Top headlines: Brazil's toll rises, the four phases of the COVID economy, Greeks return to church.

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. Brazil passes Spain and Italy in confirmed coronavirus cases. Brazil's official tally of 233,142 cases took it past the European countries that were once the epicentre of the pandemic. International comparisons are difficult, however, because of discrepancies in testing regimes.

Globally, the virus continued its spread, with over 4.6 million confirmed cases and more that 312,000 deaths. The true number of infections is likely to be much higher.

According to data compiled by John Hopkins University, the United States has the highest number of confirmed cases in the world, followed by Russia, the UK, Brazil and Spain.

China reported just five new confirmed daily cases of the disease on Sunday.

covid-19 coronavirus chart
The shape of the COVID-19 outbreak in selected countries
Image: John Hopkins University

2. The four phases of the COVID economy. They are containment, stabilization, normalization and growth, according to Ajay Banga, CEO of Mastercard. Speaking on a World Economic Forum COVID Action Platform call, he said most economies in the world were now in the stabilization phase, with spending beginning to pick up.

Read more about how businesses are responding to the crisis here.

3. Greek attend church for the first time in months. Distant from one another - but not from their faith. It was an emotional moment for many in Greece on Sunday, May 17, as the first church services were held following a lockdown which had begun in mid-March.

Orthodox faithful respect social distancing as they attend the first service open for believers following the easing of measures against the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Athens, Greece, May 17, 2020. REUTERS/Costas Baltas - RC27QG9J0JJS
Orthodox faithful respect social distancing as they attend the first service for months in Athens
Image: REUTERS/Costas Baltas

4. The practical headaches of a coronavirus business boom. The pandemic has dealt an unprecedented blow to the global economy, but even companies who have seen a surge in demand for products from packaging to sanitizer are struggling with the new reality.

In one company, wiping down machinery with disinfectant blurred a "danger" sign; many others are calculating new costs of everything from cleaning rags to staff temperature checks, according to this Reuters report.

5. A beautiful game - and a different game. Elite European football kicked off on May 16, but to empty stadiums. "We have found that the considerable home advantage in football is on average almost entirely wiped out in closed doors matches," wrote academics who have been studying the impact of home crowds on performance.

Image: Carl Singleton