• 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: Canada’s crossroad; the 15-minute test airlines are banking on; an emergency declared in Wisconsin; positive treatment news from Japan.

1. How COVID-19 continues to affect the globe

There are now more than 31.6 million confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide, according to the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine. The number of confirmed deaths has risen to more than 970,000.

Canada is at a COVID-19 ‘crossroads’, health officials have warned and could see more than 1,000 new daily cases per day over the next two weeks. The country’s Public Health Agency said: “Canada is at a crossroads and individual action to reduce contact rates will decide our path.”

Canada: Daily confirmed cases: are we bending the curve?
Canada: Standing at the coronavirus crossroads
Image: Our World in Data

Brazil’s ministry of health confirmed 33,536 new cases, as the country’s total COVID-19 count rose to 4,591,364. An additional 836 deaths brought the death toll up to 138,108, the second-highest globally.

Airlines in Europe are hoping a COVID-19 test that delivers a result in just 15 minutes will restore travellers’ confidence in flying. Lufthansa, Germany’s national airline, has teamed up with the pharmaceutical company Roche on the tests. In Italy, Alitalia already offers flights between Milan and Rome for passengers who test negative.

Japan may begin relaxing its strict border controls next month. At the moment, even permanent residents cannot return from overseas without permission. Although the country is considering allowing some visitors to enter, there will still be restrictions in place for tourists.

The Australian state of Victoria may start relaxing more lockdown restrictions this week. The two-week average for new confirmed cases has dropped below 30 in the city of Melbourne. The country’s second-largest city has been under strict lockdown since 2 August.

A public health emergency has been declared in the US state of Wisconsin. Governor Tony Evers said: “We are seeing an alarming increase in cases across our state, especially on campus.” Wisconsinites will be required to wear face masks in public spaces, indoors and out, until at least November.

Fujifilm Toyama Chemical has said its antiviral drug, Avigan, has reduced recovery times for ‘non-severe’ COVID-19 patients. A study involving 156 patients in Japan found those given the drug saw an improvement after 11.9 days. A control group, who received a placebo recorded recovery times of 14.7 days.

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. Argentina’s economy plunges record 19.1% in second quarter on pandemic impact

The pandemic has pushed Argentina’s economy into a steep decline, contracting by a record 19.1% in the second quarter of the year. Although not as bad as some analysts had been expecting, it is worse than the country’s last major financial setback in 2002, when the economy shrank by 16.3%

According to Reuters, analysts had forecast an average contraction of 19.9% for the April-June period.

Argentina has been in recession since 2018 and in May of this year it defaulted on its sovereign debt, after missing a $500 million interest payment on approximately $65 billion of foreign debt.

People take part in a protest against Argentina's national government amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at the Buenos Aires obelisk, Argentina September 13, 2020. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian
The pandemic pushed Argentina’s economy into a steep decline, contracting by a record 19.1%.
Image: REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian

South America's third-largest country by population has been in lockdown since mid-March and has recorded 652,174 confirmed cases and 13,952 deaths.

“The strong isolation restrictions imposed from the second half of March and that lasted until August had a significant economic cost for the entire country,” economist Natalia Motyl of consultancy Libertad y Progreso, told Reuters.

Lockdown has been relaxed but there are restrictions still in place which are expected to stay until 11 October.

3. PAHO: Pregnant women face greater COVID-19 risk and must receive vital support

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is warning of the increased risk to pregnant women from COVID-19. It has recorded 60,458 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among pregnant women, including 458 deaths.

Mexico saw the highest number of deaths – 140 from 5,574 cases in pregnant and postpartum women. Brazil, which has been particularly hard-hit, recorded 135 deaths in 2,256 women. The US had 44 deaths among 20,798 women.

The smallest number of deaths came from Panama – eight deaths in 525 pregnant women, but that is the highest maternal mortality ratio PAHO found.

The agency has urged health services across the Americas to work harder at making sure pregnant women have access to vitally important prenatal care services. “Recently published results and studies based on COVID-19 surveillance data have indicated an increased risk among pregnant women of presenting with severe forms of COVID-19 and, therefore, of being hospitalized and admitted to intensive care units,” PAHO warned.

PAHO also found the number of cases among indigenous populations is increasing.

Of the 11 countries that reported data on their indigenous populations, there were 120,593 confirmed cases and 2,639 deaths. Colombia had the largest increase in cases and Ecuador had the largest increase in deaths in indigenous populations, relative to the general population of both countries, the agency said.