• 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: eurozone in double-dip recession, say economists in poll; green stimulus spending slowly increasing; snap lockdown in Melbourne.

1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have now passed 107.7 million globally, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. The number of confirmed deaths stands at more than 2.36 million.

Melbourne, Australia, will enter a snap five-day lockdown after a cluster of cases linked to a quarantine hotel. The lockdown will see spectators barred from the Australian Open tennis tournament.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged Germans to be patient after a COVID-19 lockdown was extended until at least 7 March. Stricter controls on people seeking to enter Germany from the Czech Republic and Austria's Tyrol region were also announced. Portugal has extended a nationwide lockdown until 1 March.

Mexico's central bank has cut its benchmark interest rate, highlighting uncertainty over the economic outlook and global efforts to tackle the pandemic.

More than 40% of Britons are struggling financially or in poor health, a sharp increase from last year, driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Financial Conduct Authority said yesterday.

Europe's oldest person – French nun Sister Andre – celebrated her 117th birthday yesterday, after testing positive for COVID-19 in January. Born in 1904, she lived through the Spanish Flu, which claimed her brother's life.


How is the World Economic Forum helping to identify new technologies to fight COVID-19?

As part of work identifying promising technology use cases to combat COVID, The Boston Consulting Group recently used contextual AI to analyze more than 150 million English language media articles from 30 countries published between December 2019 to May 2020.

The result is a compendium of hundreds of technology use cases. It more than triples the number of solutions, providing better visibility into the diverse uses of technology for the COVID-19 response.

To see a full list of 200+ exciting technology use cases during COVID – please follow this link.

2. Eurozone in double-dip recession

The eurozone is in a double-dip recession, according to a Reuters poll of economists. Ongoing COVID-19 restrictions saw an already weak outlook take a further hit.

“With lockdowns extended into the new year, it really feels like it is darkest before dawn in the eurozone. In the first quarter, GDP is all but certain to contract again and the question is now by how much,” said Marcel Klok, senior economist at ING.

Similar polls saw more optimism in the US, with experts predicting the US economy would reach pre-COVID-19 levels within a year. Confidence was driven by President Biden's proposed $1.9 trillion stimulus package.

Meanwhile, for Britain a poll suggests the country will narrowly avoid a double-dip recession, but it might take two years for the economy to reach pre-pandemic levels.

3. Global spending on green stimulus slowly tracking upwards

Massive post-pandemic stimulus packages are mostly failing to support action to tackle climate change or stop biodiversity loss, but the amount of green spending is slowly tracking up, according to a new study.

“We are seeing momentum building towards a greener stimulus package, but there’s still a long way to go,” Jeffrey Beyer, an economist at Vivid Economics and co-author of the report, the Greenness of Stimulus Index, told Reuters.

Allocation of stimulus to nature
More harm than good?
Image: Vivid Economics

Of $14.9 trillion announced globally since the start of the pandemic, so far $1.8 trillion is being used to mitigate the impact of polluting sectors such as energy, transport, industry, farming and waste.

But, moves in countries such as the US, Canada, China and others to support green sectors – like renewable energy or afforestation – suggest a shift, the study said.