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COVID-19 Infection Rates Slowing in Some African Countries

Source: Economics for Transformation

Reported COVID-19 cases in countries across Africa are growing at divergent rates, with a number of countries showing declines in infection rates while others are climbing. The graphic above, showing the change in reported cases from July 11 to August 20, is from a report from Economics for Transformation. 

The variance in case counts is due to different population sizes, as well as the degree of urbanization and mobility in each country. Further, areas in Africa may have different health systems and COVID-19 testing capacities that could affect the reported number of cases: “The number of confirmed cases … should be assumed to be a large underestimate of the true picture of infection in SSA,” according to the report.

COVID-19 hit Africa later than most other regions — it announced its first case a month after Italy’s first case and two weeks after the U.S.’s first case. Africa’s response to the pandemic was quicker and more comprehensive than any other region globally, but it is still at risk of multiple economic challenges that could lead to long-lasting impacts on all sectors, including tourism and its burgeoning manufacturing industry.

COVID-Related Job Losses in Asia and Pacific Region Predominantly Impact Young Workers

Source: International Labor Organization

Unprecedented working-hour losses for youth in the Asia and Pacific region — especially in South Korea — were more likely to result in immediate job loss compared to adult workers during the pandemic. 

The young population in the Asia and Pacific region is more likely to face longer-term economic damage from the pandemic, according to a report from the International Labor Organization: Nearly half of the youth work in wholesale and retail, manufacturing, real estate and food services — the four sectors hit the hardest by shutdowns. 

South Korea had one of the highest youth unemployment rates prior to COVID-19, and its younger generations were still recovering from past recessions — the unemployment rate has hovered at 13% or more since 2013. ILO found that during a recession, the youth unemployment rate in the Asia and Pacific region can persist for up to five years, with the second and third years being the worst. 

The report states that “maximizing youth productivity in the COVID-19 recovery process will improve Asia and the Pacific’s future prospects for inclusive and sustainable growth, demographic transition and social stability.”

US Women Bear the Burden of Child Care and Home Schooling

Source: The United States Census Bureau

One in five working-age adults in the United States say they are not working because the pandemic disrupted their child care arrangements. New data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows women are nearly three times as likely as men to leave their job due to child care and home-schooling demands.

The burden of child care disproportionately falling on women reveals the persistence of prohibitive expectations for women’s roles in society. Since the pandemic hit, many men have been “encouraged to enhance productivity with flexible working and reap the rewards for such,” while, generally, women have been expected to “increase their unpaid labor capacity — more family and home responsibilities,” according to Michelle Mielly, business ethics expert, and Lena Kurban Rouhana, a researcher on flexible work and the career trajectories of women.

Many are questioning what long-term effects this will have on women’s careers as they face setbacks in their incomes and career progression and slowing momentum toward gender equality. Now, businesses are in the midst of determining how best to support their employees who are also parents, while it remains unclear whether schools will reopen in the fall.

US Struggles Most With Mental Health During COVID-19 Compared to Other High-Income Countries

Source: The Commonwealth Fund

One-third of U.S. adults report experiencing mental health challenges since the coronavirus outbreak started compared to about a quarter or less in other high-income countries. Research from The Commonwealth Fund shows that the U.S. had the highest rate of mental health diagnoses among high-income countries even before the pandemic.

More than 30% of Americans say they are experiencing negative economic impacts due to COVID-19 — much higher than the other countries surveyed. And 56% of U.S. adults who experienced COVID-related economic difficulties also reported experiencing mental health issues. 

Uncertainty about the virus’s spread, information overload and social isolation are some of the elements contributing to the decline in mental health, the fund’s research shows. A higher number of COVID-19 cases and low levels of public trust in the U.S. government are also factors. Only 33% of Americans believe that the U.S. government is responding well to the pandemic, while at least 49% of those in other countries reported positive views of their government’s response. 

Undetected COVID-19 Cases Significantly Outweigh Confirmed Cases

Source: Oliver Wyman

Actual cases of COVID-19 are likely to be 10 times higher than the confirmed number of cases recorded in New York City as of early August. Confirmed cases in NYC imply that about 3% of the city has been infected to date, yet when factoring in undetected cases, in actuality, an estimated 32% of the population has had COVID-19. 

This is a trend seen across the world, beyond NYC. However, the number of undetected cases in NYC outweighs case counts of some entire countries, according to data from the Oliver Wyman COVID-19 Pandemic Navigator. Factors that can increase the number of undetected cases include asymptomatic cases, false negatives, people who are unwilling to get tested, inaccurate information shared by governments, shortage of test kits and long wait times for results. 

The number of undetected cases compromises any sense of control of the virus that businesses and schools have been clinging to in order to make decisions about reopening or returning to offices or schools. Ultimately, this emphasizes a continued need for the public to practice all safety measures, like wearing a mask — even if it appears that case numbers in certain areas are decreasing.

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