- This daily roundup 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.
- Today’s top stories: New study tracks the virus’ quick spread after 2019; Business activity in euro zone declined in April, economic bloc set for record recession; Scientists look to llama in search for COVID-19 treatment.
How COVID-19 is impacting the globe
Confirmed coronavirus cases are at more than 3.75 million worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University. More than 263,000 people have died from the virus, while over 1.2 million have recovered.
Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister of Canada, spoke on navigating the economic limitations of the COVID-19 era at Wednesday’s virtual meeting of the Forum’s COVID Action Platform.
“One of the areas where we feel that we have been more successful than people might have thought is in maintaining our trade with the United States,” she said.
Responding to the need to close the Canadian-US border to limit the spread of the coronavirus, she added: “We have been able to cut down the traffic across that border by over 90% and at the same time trade is still happening – goods and services are still flowing across the border.”
Launched last month, the Forum’s platform aims to convene leaders from governments and the business community for collective action to protect people’s livelihoods, facilitate business continuity and mobilize support for a global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, more than 1,500 people from more than 1,000 businesses and organizations have joined the platform. To find the latest updates on the platform, check out our recently-launched highlights blog.
Wondering what offices will look like in the new normal? South Korea’s new guidelines give one approach for how people might return to work while still helping to suppress the virus.
The guidelines feature some COVID-19 hygiene basics, such as hand washing and no handshaking. They also discourage happy hours and prompt workers to return home after the day is done.
Lockdowns have brought economies around the world to a screeching halt. To blunt their impact, a ‘Big Freeze” could help, wrote Sarah Nadav of Rapid Economic Innovation COVID-19 in this week’s Agenda.
Big Freeze economic theory would halt time-related fixed expenses temporarily, Nadav says. These would include rent or mortgage payments and health insurance. Supporting businesses would close temporarily while a Universal Basic Income (UBI) would be distributed.
“The goal is to prevent debt, preserve existing economic infrastructure, protect individuals, and position businesses for a smooth market re-entry when the time is right.”
5. Using cash payments to protect the poor in Pakistan
Pakistan has a population of 210 million and a third of its population subsists from daily and piece-rate wages. To protect those living in extreme poverty during the COVID-19 response, cash payments have been an important lifeline, writes one official in this week’s Agenda.
In a new program, eligible families receive approximately $75 (enough to provide subsistence nutrition for four months), according to Sania Nishtar, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister of Pakistan on Poverty Alleviation and Social Protection.
The program reached 7 million of the nation’s poorest people in just its first two weeks. Cash transfers structured appropriately, writes Nishtar, can be low-cost, effective and efficient ways to provide humanitarian assistance.
“It is clear already that COVID-19 will have lasting health and economic effects beyond the effects of damage caused directly by the virus itself,” Nishtar wrote. “While the suffering will be difficult to quantify, measures like this may help alleviate at least some of the damage caused by the pandemic.”
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