• This daily round-up brings you a selection of the latest news and updates on the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, as well as tips and tools to help you stay informed and protected.
  • Top stories: Spain passes 1 million confirmed cases; Europe's SMEs in trouble; US hospitalizations hit two-month high.

1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have now passed 41.2 million globally, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. The number of confirmed deaths stands at over 1.13 million.

Most shops in the Czech Republic have been ordered to close, as another record daily tally was recorded.

Roche Holding and Atea Pharmaceuticals have teamed up on an antiviral oral treatment – called AT-527 – that could be a potential treatment for COVID-19 patients. The pill is in phase 2 clinical trials.

New confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Germany have risen by 10,000 in a day for the first time, according to the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases.

Coronavirus hospitalizations in the US have hit a two-month high, with 40,000 patients are being treated for the disease in hospital.

It comes as six US states report record daily increases in COVID-19 deaths, and new confirmed cases hit daily record levels in five states. “Folks, please stay home,” Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers said in a statement on Wednesday.

Residents in five Melbourne suburbs have been put on alert after a new coronavirus case in a school. Australia's second-largest city is emerging slowly from a lockdown.

Belgium could order a lockdown as early as next week, according to a spokesman. “Personally, I think it’s likely that we will have another lockdown at the end of the next week if the trends do not turn around between now and then,” the country's COVID-19 spokesman, Yves van Laethem, told the LN24 TV news channel.

Jordan has announced a record daily increase in confirmed cases – 2,648. Restrictions remain in place across the country, including a limit on the size of social gatherings and a night curfew.

Japanese research has shown that masks offer protection from airborne coronavirus particles, but even professional-grade coverings can’t eliminate contagion risk entirely.

What is the COVID Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurship?

The COVID Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurship is a coalition of 85 global leaders, hosted by the World Economic Forum. Its mission: Join hands in support of social entrepreneurs everywhere as vital first responders to the pandemic and as pioneers of a green, inclusive economic reality.

Its COVID Social Enterprise Action Agenda, outlines 25 concrete recommendations for key stakeholder groups, including funders and philanthropists, investors, government institutions, support organizations, and corporations. In January of 2021, its members launched its 2021 Roadmap through which its members will roll out an ambitious set of 21 action projects in 10 areas of work. Including corporate access and policy change in support of a social economy.

For more information see the Alliance website or its “impact story” here.

2. Spain passes 1 million confirmed cases

Spain has become the first Western European country to pass 1 million confirmed COVID-19 infections, according health ministry data.

Its cases fell following its March-June lockdown, but have increased significantly since late August – to double in just six weeks. Cases hit a daily peak of 16,000 new infections last week. Deaths have remained lower than their late-March peak, but hospitalizations have increased 20% in the past two weeks.

The government has reimposed increasingly strict measures in an effort to slow the spread.

Confirmed coronavirus cases in Spain
Confirmed cases have risen rapidly in Spain since August.
Image: Our World in Data

3. Over half of small European firms fear for survival

Fifty-five percent of small- and medium-sized firms (SMEs) surveyed in a McKinsey poll expect to shut down by September next year, if revenues remain at current levels.

The survey, conducted in August before recent surges in European cases, spoke to more than 2,000 companies in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Britain.

SMEs, defined as those with 250 or fewer employees, employ more than 90 million people across Europe. But, one in 10 is expected to file for bankruptcy in the next six months.

“This is a substantial burden on the financial sector,” report co-author Zdravko Mladenov said.