Data tells the story on how COVID-19 is changing the world

The coronavirus is ravaging across the world, causing death, serious illness and changing life as we know it. Beyond the obvious human toll of this fast spreading desease; how is it affecting different aspects of public and private life like individual incomes, employment, the well-being of women and children and access to public services?

A new report released this week, “How COVID-19 is changing the world: a statistical perspective“, is trying to answer these questions. It presents a snapshot of some of the latest information available on how COVID-19 is affecting people’s lives, also putting a spotlight on the impacts on specific population groups and geographical regions.

The statistics presented in the report, launched by 36 United Nations agencies and international organizations that are members of the Committee for the Coordination of Statistical Activities (CCSA), show inflections in trends that would have been unimaginable only a few months ago. For instance, by the end of April, 212 countries, territories or areas had reported confirmed cases of COVID-19.

In the first four months of 2020, more than 3 million cases of infection had been confirmed and more than 210,000 deaths. Some startling economic numbers include a 9 percent year-on-year fall in global production and manufacturing output, nowcasts that the value of global merchandise trade will fall by almost 27 percent in the second quarter of 2020, the largest fall in global commodity prices on record (-20.4 percent between February and March 2020).

On the social side, we see a dramatic loss of employment – with a decline of almost 10.5 percent in total working hours, the equivalent of 305 million full-time workers. And some 1.6 billion students have been affected by school closures and the crisis will push an additional 40–60 million people into extreme poverty.

The report also provides a glimpse into the challenges facing national statistical offices at the moment. At a time when statistics are most needed, many countries are struggling to compile basic official statistics, highlighting once again the need to invest in data and statistics, and the importance of having modern, resilient national statistical systems and data infrastructure.

The United Nations and other members of the international statistical community continue to work together, in partnership with national statistical offices and systems around the world, to ensure that the best quality data and statistics are available to support decision-making during and after the current health crisis. By having this access to reliable and accurate data, the world can make informed decisions on how best to build back better.

Follow the efforts of the international statistics community on this dedicated website.

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