What is the economic impact of Covid-19?
The global financial cost of the Covid-19 pandemic is significant. Lockdowns imposed by governments to prevent the spread of the outbreak and limit the impact on health systems have led to business closures, job losses and recession in many countries.
The International Monetary Fund described the global decline as the worst since the Great Depression of the 1930s. It predicted the global economy would contract by 3% in 2020 and said $9 trillion could be knocked off global GDP over the following two years.
The United Nations predicted the coronavirus pandemic would shrink the world economy by 3.2 percent in 2020, pushing an estimated 34.3 million people into extreme poverty.
World stock markets saw a slump at the end of February 2020 as investors started to express concern about the impact of the outbreak. In the last week of February major markets suffered their worst weekly performance since the 2008 financial crisis, and in March, the Dow Jones and the FTSE saw their biggest one day declines since 1987.
Even the price of gold, traditionally seen as a safe investment in times of economic uncertainty, tumbled in March amid fears of a global recession.
In April, US crude oil futures crashed below $0 for the first time in history after demand for oil plummeted. They reached a low of negative $4.47 per barrel before recovering.
In March, the US cut interest rates to almost zero and launched a $700bn stimulus programme to help protect the economy from the effect of the pandemic. The European Central Bank quickly followed with an emergency $820bn package.
The US saw a record number of unemployed as a result of the crisis, with more than 30 million people filing for first-time unemployment benefits by the end of April. Its economy took its hardest hit since the height of the great recession of the late 2000s, with GDP contracting by 4.8 per cent in the first quarter of the year.
The eurozone’s economy shrank by 3.8 percent in the first quarter of 2020, the largest fall since records began in 1995.
31st December 2019 – Health authorities in Wuhan, China, announce they are treating dozens of cases of a new virus with pneumonia-like symptoms.
7th January 2020 – Authorities announce they have identified the outbreak as a novel coronavirus.
11th January 2020 – China reports its first death from the coronavirus.
20th January 2020 – The World Health Organisation confirms that the first cases of coronavirus outside China have occurred in Japan, South Korea and Thailand.
23rd January 2020 – Wuhan is completely closed down by Chinese authorities to try to control the spread of the outbreak.
30th January 2020 – The WHO declares the coronavirus a “public health emergency of international concern.”
2nd February 2020 – The first coronavirus death is reported outside of China as a 44-year-old man dies in the Philippines.
10th February 2020 – The Coronavirus death toll in China rises to 908, surpassing the global number of deaths from the SARS outbreak of 2002-2003, which killed 774.
10th February 2020 – Sona Nanotech announces it is developing a rapid screening test for the coronavirus outbreak using lateral flow diagnostic test technology.
11th February 2020 – The death toll in China tops 1,000. The WHO names the coronavirus Covid-19.
19th February 2020 – Iran announces the first two cases of Covid-19 in the country. Hours later it announces both patients have died. The source of the virus in Iran is unknown.
21st February 2020 – A secretive church in South Korea is linked to a surge in cases in the country, prompting authorities to shut thousands of schools, nursing homes and community centres.
22nd February 2020 – The WHO expresses concern at the number of coronavirus cases with no clear link to China, and warns that the window of opportunity to contain the virus is “narrowing”.
23rd February 2020 – Italy imposes quarantine restrictions on the regions of Veneto and Lombardy as the country deals with the highest number of cases in Europe.
24th February 2020 – Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq, Afghanistan and Oman all report their first cases of the virus.
26th February 2020 – Norway, Romania, Greece, Georgia, Pakistan, North Macedonia and Brazil report their first cases.
27th February 2020 – Estonia, Denmark, Northern Ireland and the Netherlands report their first cases. The number infected worldwide passes 82,000.
28th February 2020 – The WHO upgrades the global risk for Covid-19 to “very high” – the highest alert it can declare.
1st March 2020 – The first Coronavirus deaths are recorded in North America. Two people die of the virus in the same hospital in Washington State.
2nd March 2020 – The number of deaths worldwide reaches 3,000.
4th March 2020 – The WHO says the mortality rate for Covid-19 is 3.4 per cent. It says the virus is deadlier than the flu but does not transmit as easily.
6th March 2020 – The number of cases tops 100,000 worldwide. The WHO expresses concern that some countries are not taking the threat of Covid-19 seriously enough. The first cases are confirmed in the Vatican, Serbia and Slovakia.
8th March 2020 – Italy places up to 16 million people under quarantine in several central and northern provinces, including the cities of Milan and Venice, to contain the spread of Covid-19. The measures will last until April.
9th March 2020 – Italy expands the quarantine to the whole country, restricting the movements of more than 60 million people. The country has the highest incidence of infection outside China, with more than 9,170 cases and 460 deaths.
10th March 2020 – China says it has ‘curbed’ the virus in Wuhan and its province Hubei as it records its lowest number of infections in a day – 19.
11th March 2020 – The WHO labels the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic and expresses concern over “alarming levels of inaction” by world governments. US president Donald Trump suspends travel to the US from 26 European countries in the Schengen border-free travel area in a bid to halt the spread of the outbreak.
13th March 2020 – US president Donald Trump declares a national state of emergency. Unesco, the UN’s educational, scientific and cultural body, says 49 countries have school closures in place in response to the outbreak. Sophie Trudeau, wife of Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, tests positive for Covid-19. The couple announce they will self isolate for 14 days.
15th March 2020 – The WHO says Europe is now the “epicenter” of the pandemic. Spain and France announce emergency restrictions. In Spain, people are banned from leaving home except for essential supplies while in France, cafes, restaurants, cinemas and most shops are closed.
16th March 2020 – New York city and Los Angeles close all restaurants, cinemas, bars and cafes.
17th March 2020 – The first human trial of a Covid-19 vaccine takes place in Washington State, US. The vaccine sidesteps the usual process of first being tested on animals.
18th March 2020 – China’s Hubei Province reports no new cases for two consecutive days.
19th March 2020 – The death toll in Italy overtakes that of China.
20th March 2020 – Confirmed cases worldwide near 250,000, with more than 10,000 deaths. California announces a state-wide ‘stay at home’ order for all its people – a population of 40 million. Argentina becomes the first Latin American country to impose a nationwide lockdown.
23rd March 2020 – The WHO warns the pandemic is “accelerating” as confirmed cases pass 350,000 with more than 15,000 deaths. The UK introduces strict measures including banning public gatherings and the closure of all non-essential shops.
25th March 2020 – India enforces a total nationwide lockdown of its 1.3bn population for 21 days. It means a quarter of the world’s population is now under some form of lockdown. The UK’s Prince Charles, aged 71, tests positive for coronavirus with “mild symptoms”. The death toll in Spain overtakes that of China, and is second only to Italy.
26th March 2020 – UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson tests positive for coronavirus, experiencing “mild symptoms”. The US now has more than 85,000 cases, overtaking China.
30th March 2020 – Confirmed cases pass 724,000, with more than 34,000 deaths.
31st March 2020 – The number of deaths from coronavirus in the US (3,600) passes that of China (3,309).
1st April 2020 – UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warns the coronavirus outbreak is the biggest global challenge since World War Two.
2nd April 2020 – The death toll in the US rises above 5,000. The most recent victims includes a six-week-old baby. More than 216,000 people in the US are infected, the highest number in the world. The head of the WHO warns infections globally will reach one million within days.
3rd April 2020 – Confirmed worldwide cases pass one million.
5th April 2020 – UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is admitted to hospital. The number of new infections and deaths have fallen in Spain and Italy over recent days, sparking hope that the lockdowns are having an impact.
6th April 2020 – UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is admitted to intensive care after his symptoms worsen.
7th April 2020 – Japan declares a state of emergency in Tokyo, Osaka and five other areas. China reports no deaths for the first time since the crisis began.
10th April 2020 – The US becomes the first country to record more than 2,000 deaths in a single day. The global death toll passes 100,000. The WHO warns of a “deadly resurgence” if lockdowns are lifted too quickly. New York state has more cases than any country outside the US.
13th April 2020 – The US surpasses Italy as the country with the most Covid-19 deaths, with 22,000 recorded. France extends its lockdown until 11th May.
15th April 2020 – US President Donald Trump threatens to stop funding the WHO, claiming the organisation has failed in its response to the outbreak. Confirmed worldwide cases pass two million.
17th April 2020 – Chinese authorities revise the death toll in the city of Wuhan, increasing the number by 50% to 3,869.
20th April 2020 – Several European countries, including Germany and the Czech Republic, start easing lockdown restrictions as case numbers fall.
21st April 2020 – US President Donald Trump announces he will temporarily suspend all immigration to the US to help slow the spread of the outbreak. A report by the UN World Food Programme says the number of people facing ‘acute food insecurity’ could double to 265 million as a result of the pandemic.
22nd April 2020 – Confirmed worldwide cases pass 2.5 million. The WHO warns the virus will be with us ‘for a long time’. The pandemic is expected to see carbon dioxide emissions drop by six per cent this year, according to the head of the World Meteorological Organization.
24th April 2020 – The UN and world leaders launch a new push to speed up work on tests, vaccines and new treatments for Covid-19.
26th April 2020 – Wuhan announces no new cases of Covid-19 in its hospitals, with all patients discharged. China reports no new deaths in the country for the 11th day.
28th April 2020 – In the US, the number of cases passes one million, a third of global infections, while the death toll exceeds 57,000. Germany reports a rise in cases after it enacts a partial easing of lockdown restrictions.
30th April 2020 – Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin says he tests positive for coronavirus and will self-isolate.
1st May 2020 – Russia registers a record number of cases for the third day in a row, with 7,933 more people testing positive for the virus, bringing the total to 114,431.
2nd May 2020 – People in Spain are finally allowed to leave their homes to exercise after 48 days of strict quarantine.
4th May 2020 – Asian countries including Australia, India and Malaysia start easing elements of their lockdowns.
5th May 2020 – The UK records Europe’s highest death toll, with 30,000 Covid-19 fatalities.
6th May 2020 – The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) warns of the risks of returning to lockdown if countries emerging from pandemic restrictions do not manage transitions “extremely carefully and in a phased approach”.
8th May 2020 – The WHO warns that up to 190,000 people in Africa could be killed by coronavirus disease in the first year and the disease could infect between 29 million and 44 million during that period if the outbreak is not contained.
9th May 2020 – Confirmed worldwide cases pass four million, with 277,000 deaths.
14th May 2020 – The WHO warns that Covid-19 might “never go away”. Emergencies director Dr Mike Ryan warns against trying to predict when the virus will disappear, and says even if a vaccine is found, controlling the virus will require a “massive effort”.
16th May 2020 – The number of cases in India surpass those in China, with 85,940 infections and 2,752 deaths.
18th May 2020 – Spain reports a daily death toll lower than 100 for the first time in two months.
19th May 2020 – WHO member states agree to set up an independent review of the global response to the coronavirus pandemic, including the WHO’s role.
21st May 2020 – Confirmed worldwide cases pass five million.
25th May 2020 – Trials of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a possible coronavirus treatment are halted over safety fears. President Trump claims he has taken the drug as a preventative treatment, but a medical study has warned it could increase the risk of death in coronavirus patients.
26th May 2020 – The WHO warns of a second peak of the virus if countries lift lockdown measures too soon.
You can track the spread of the outbreak in near-real time on this interactive map developed by John Hopkins University (JHU)
Coronavirus, or Covid-19 refers to a large group of viruses that includes the common cold. It also includes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), virus outbreaks that have previously gained global notoriety. Covid-19 is the name of a novel (new) coronavirus that was first identified in Wuhan in the Hubei Province of China at the end of December 2019. It is believed the virus was generated at a seafood and poultry market.
Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and humans. Common symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe respiratory difficulties, kidney failure and death.
Covid-19 spreads from one host to another via droplets from the mouth or nose, from coughing or sneezing. Transmission can occur if these droplets come in contact with a surface, and an individual then touches their eyes, mouth or nose. The virus may also be communicated through inhalation of droplets from infected people. This concern has introduced the implementation of social distancing rules. The incubation period of the virus (the time between infection and symptoms showing), lasts up to 14 days, according to the WHO. The majority of patients infected with Covid-19 have had mild symptoms including a sore throat, cough and fever and have gone on to make a full recovery. In March of 2020 the WHO announced that the mortality rate for Covid-19 was 3.4 per cent. WHO communicated that the virus is deadlier than the flu but does not transmit as easily.
Currently there is no specific treatment for the virus. In April of 2020 it was reported that an antiviral drug called Remdesivir had proved effective against the coronavirus in a major study, reducing recovery time by four days on average. Development of a vaccine is underway. Human trials have begun as of March 2020 in multiple nations. At the beginning of May, it was estimated that between eight and 11 vaccine candidates were in the early stages of testing in China, the US, Britain and Germany.
What’s the difference between Covid-19 and other outbreaks?
This is not the first time the world has dealt with a coronavirus outbreak: in 2012 there was an outbreak of a coronavirus called Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and in 2002-2003 there was an outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
MERS was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012, and by 2018 there had been more than 2,100 cases reported in 27 countries, with 750 deaths. SARS is much more severe than other coronavirus infections. The 2002-2003 outbreak started in China and spread to 30 other countries. More than 8,000 cases were reported worldwide, with 774 deaths.
Covid-19 has spread much further and faster than previous outbreaks of MERS and SARS. Within two months of the outbreak, there had been more than 79,000 cases and almost 2,500 deaths. This can be partly attributed to increased globalisation and the fact Covid-19 started in Wuhan, a major transport hub connecting the whole of China.
The WHO said it took 67 days from the first reported Covid-19 case to reach 100,000 cases, 11 days for the second 100,000 cases, and just four days for the third 100,000 cases.
One of the highest-profile viral outbreaks of recent years has been Ebola. Between 2013 and 2016 an epidemic in West Africa saw 28,646 cases and 11,323 deaths. Ebola is a highly deadly disease with a mortality rate of around 50 per cent. Unlike coronavirus, Ebola is only transmitted by direct contact with the blood or other bodily fluids of a person with Ebola.