The COVID‑19 pandemic, also known as the coronavirus pandemic, is an ongoing global pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‑19), caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS‑CoV‑2). The outbreak was first identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. The World Health Organisation declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on 30 January 2020 and a pandemic on 11 March. As of 22 July 2020, more than 14.9 million cases of COVID‑19 have been reported in more than 188 countries and territories, resulting in more than 616,000 deaths; more than 8.46 million people have recovered. This number continues to change on a daily basis.
The virus is primarily spread between people during close contact, most often via small droplets produced by coughing, sneezing, and talking. Less commonly, people may become infected by touching a contaminated surface and then touching their face. It is most contagious during the first three days after the onset of symptoms, although spread is possible before symptoms appear, and from people who do not show symptoms.
Recommended preventive measures include hand washing, covering one's mouth when coughing, maintaining distance from other people, wearing a face mask in public settings, disinfecting surfaces, increasing ventilation and air filtration indoors, and monitoring and self-isolation for people who suspect they are infected. Authorities worldwide have responded by implementing travel restrictions, lockdowns, workplace hazard controls, and business and facility closures. Many places have also worked to increase testing capacity and trace contacts of infected persons.
The pandemic has caused global social and economic disruption including the largest global recession since the Great Depression and global famines affecting 265 million people. It has led to the postponement or cancellation of sporting, religious, political, and cultural events, widespread supply shortages exacerbated by panic buying, and decreased emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases. Schools, universities, and colleges have been closed either on a nationwide or local basis in 172 countries, affecting approximately 98.5 percent of the world's student population.
There are many vaccine trials being carried out around the world, and whilst there have been promising signs, as yet, there is no vaccine. Governments and scientists continue to warn and prepare for a second spike. Industries must prepare for this to ensure they can navigate further disruption and the potential of future lockdowns.