• This daily round-up 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.
  • Top stories: Hong Kong is ‘on the verge’ of big outbreak, Australia sends emergency teams to help the elderly, and US states see record case numbers.

1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe

The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases around the world is now more than 16.7 million, according to the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine. The death toll has now passed 660,000.

Hong Kong is “on the verge” of a large-scale outbreak, its chief executive Carrie Lam has warned. “I appeal to you to follow strictly the social distancing measures and stay at home as far as possible,” she said.

Defence and emergency medical teams have been sent to help out in elderly care homes in the Australian city of Melbourne, as the country battles its worst COVID-19 outbreak.

A deal agreed between Pfizer and the US for a future vaccine will set the price for all other developed countries. The $2 billion agreed by the US works out at $39 per person for a two-dose treatment course.

The Spanish tourism industry could lose $11.73 billion over the UK’s quarantine rule for travellers from Spain, according to the head of tourism association CEHAT.

Sales of alcohol have been restricted in Kenya, as the country extends its coronavirus curfew. Restaurants must close by 7pm and bars are to remain shut. Sunday saw its highest single-day jump in infections, with 960 new confirmed cases.

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.

2. Record COVID-19 deaths across six US states

The US states of Arkansas, California, Florida, Montana, Oregon and Texas all recorded record one-day coronavirus deaths on 28 July. Across the country, more than 1,300 lives were lost, according to Reuters.

In Texas, the total number of confirmed cases has now passed 400,000. It is now the fourth state to have exceeded that many infections, joining California, Florida and New York. These four states are also the most populous in the US.

California’s Latino community appears to be being hit particularly hard, according to state health officials. Latinos make up a little over one-third of California’s population, but now account for 56% of COVID-19 infections and 46% of deaths, according to Reuters.

The increases in confirmed cases and deaths have reignited debates over whether schools in some parts of the US should reopen next month.

Where U.S. coronavirus cases are on the rise
Where US coronavirus cases are on the rise
Image: REUTERS

3. WHO: COVID-19 pandemic is 'one big wave', not seasonal

The pandemic has been described as “one big wave” by Dr Margaret Harris of the World Health Organization. Regular influenza tends to ebb and flow in distinct waves, worsening in winter months. But COVID-19 is not behaving like that, Dr Harris warned: “Summer is a problem. This virus likes all weather.

“We are in the first wave. It’s going to be one big wave. It’s going to go up and down a bit. The best thing is to flatten it and turn it into just something lapping at your feet,” she said during a virtual briefing in Geneva.

But the likelihood of a winter wave of influenza in the northern hemisphere should be cause for concern, she said. The southern hemisphere is entering its usual flu season, and the WHO is monitoring the situation closely, she continued.

“If you have an increase in a respiratory illness when you already have a very high burden of respiratory illness, that puts even more pressure on the health system.”