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It is little more than six months since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the arrival of a new virus a global emergency.

On that day, at the end of January, there had been almost 10,000 reported cases of coronavirus and more than 200 people had died. None of those deaths were outside of China.

Since then the world, and our lives, have changed profoundly. So how are we faring in this battle between the human race and the coronavirus?

If we take the planet as a whole, the picture is looking rough.

Area chart showing the number of global cases is fast approaching 20 million

There have been more than 19 million confirmed cases and 700,000 deaths. At the start of the pandemic it was taking weeks to clock up each 100,000 infections, now those milestones are measured in hours.

“We’re still in the midst of an accelerating, intense and very serious pandemic,” Dr Margaret Harris, from the WHO, told me. “It’s there in every community in the world.”

While this is a single pandemic, it is not one single story. The impact of Covid-19 is different around the world and it is easy to blind yourself to the reality beyond your own country.

But one fact unites everyone, whether they make their home in the Amazon rainforest, the skyscrapers of Singapore or the late-summer streets of the UK: this is a virus that thrives on close human contact. The more we come together, the easier it will spread. That is as true today as when the virus first emerged in China.

This central tenet explains the situation wherever you are in the world and dictates what the future will look like.

It is driving the high volume of cases in Latin America – the current epicentre of the pandemic – and the surge in India. It explains why Hong Kong is keeping people in quarantine facilities or the South Korean authorities are monitoring people’s bank accounts and phones. It illustrates why Europe and Australia are struggling to balance lifting lockdowns and containing the disease. And why we are trying to find a “new normal” rather than the old one. Read more

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