• 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: Recovery in global trade to stall again; WHO-led team in Wuhan gives media briefing; Britain tightens travel restrictions.

1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have now passed 106.9 million globally, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. The number of confirmed deaths stands at more than 2.34 million.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has said the country will begin COVID-19 vaccinations from the middle of next week.

South Korea's unemployment rate rose to a 21-year high in January, with the number of people employed falling at the sharpest pace in more than two decades.

A full lockdown in the Greek capital Athens has been ordered by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, in an effort to slow a resurgence in COVID-19 cases.

Two new COVID-19 variants – one of which has been classified as a "concern" – have been identified in England, a government advisory scientific committee said yesterday.

It comes as Britain tightens travel restrictions. From next week, passengers arriving from countries where worrying COVID-19 variants are spreading will be required to pay for 10 days of quarantine in hotels.

Black workers, women and people in low-paying jobs were more likely to become unemployed during the pandemic, according to research from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. They also faced bigger health risks if they did keep working and are being pushed out of the labour market at a faster rate.

Austria will require people leaving the province of Tyrol to show a negative test result as it steps up its response to an outbreak of the so-called South African variant.

manufacturing, production, coronavirus, pandemic,

What is the World Economic Forum doing to help the manufacturing industry rebound from COVID-19?

The COVID-19 global pandemic continues to disrupt manufacturing and supply chains, with severe consequences for society, businesses, consumers and the global economy.

As the effects of coronavirus unfold, companies are asking what short-term actions they need to take to ensure business continuity and protect their employees. How should they be preparing for the rebound and increasing their manufacturing and supply systems’ resilience?

The World Economic Forum, in collaboration with Kearney, brought together senior-level executives from various industry sectors to identify the best response to the COVID-19 crisis. Their recommendations have been published in a new white paper: How to rebound stronger from COVID-19: Resilience in manufacturing and supply systems.

Source: How to rebound stronger from COVID-19: Resilience in manufacturing and supply systems.

Read the full white paper, and more information in our Impact Story.

Companies are invited to join the Forum’s Platform for Shaping the Future of Advanced Manufacturing and Production. Through the Platform’s work, companies can join with other leaders to help find solutions that support the reconfiguration of global value chains post-COVID-19.

2. COVID-19 could have taken 'convoluted path' to Wuhan

The head of a World Health Organization-led team looking at the origins of COVID-19 has said bats remain a likely source. Peter Ben Embarek said that work done points to a natural reservoir in bats, but it is unlikely they were in Wuhan.

“The possible path from whatever original animal species all the way through to the Huanan market could have taken a very long and convoluted path involving also movements across borders,” Embarek told a nearly three-hour media briefing.

But the team has ruled out the possibility that the virus leaked from a lab.

Investigators are also looking for blood samples that could indicate the virus was circulating earlier than first thought and are exploring the possibility of transmission via frozen food.

3. Recovery in global trade to stall again – UN report

A recovery in global trade is expected to slow again in the first quarter of this year, as the pandemic continues to cause disruption.

The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said that world trade contracted 9% in 2020, after a rebound in the second half of the year. This was largely due to developing countries – particularly those in East Asia – the report said.

World trade in goods recovers in the second half of 2020
World trade in goods recovers in the second half of 2020
Image: UNCTAD

Notes: Quarterly growth is the quarter over quarter growth rate of seasonally adjusted values. Yearly growth is the average growth rate of the last four quarters. Figures for Q4 2020 are preliminary. Q1 2021 is a forecast.

“East Asian economies have been leading the recovery process with strong export growth and gains in global market share,” UNCTAD said.

The report predicts a 1.5% fall in trade in goods and a 7% drop in services in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the previous quarter.