COVID-19 Report - 24



COVID-19 and other recent pandemics have exposed the grave dangers
linked to exploiting high-risk wildlife and encroaching on nature, with tragic
costs for communities around the world.
COVID-19 is a devastating wake-up call that humanity's
broken relationship with nature affects not only the wildlife
and natural ecosystems whose habitats are being destroyed,
but also threatens human health. By continuing to damage
natural habitats, humans risk incurring the terrible costs of
new zoonotic diseases, as well as increased exposure to other
threats such as climate change.
The devastating health impacts of recent pandemics
including COVID-19 are a stark illustration of the
human costs of the encroachment on nature. Some
infectious zoonotic diseases can spread rapidly around the
world, resulting in human tragedy on a global scale. Between
December 2019 and May 2020, over six million people
globally contracted COVID-19, with more than 370,000
deaths recorded.93 This grim total is set to rise, with an
additional 190,000 people likely to die in Africa alone,94
and will almost certainly surpass other deadly outbreaks
experienced in recent decades such as the swine flu95
pandemic in 2009, in which up to 575,40096 people may have
lost their lives (see Figure 4).
Unless the root drivers of zoonotic disease
emergence are addressed, the global economy and
food security will come under further threat. The
costs of COVID-19 are estimated to reach between US$2.4
trillion and US$8.8 trillion,97 or up to three times the size of
the GDP of the UK (see Figure 5).98,99 Due to the disruption
caused by the pandemic and the necessary response measures
put in place by governments, the global economy is projected
to contract by 3 per cent in 2020,100 and almost half of the
global workforce is in immediate danger of losing their
livelihoods.101 The drastic social and economic shifts driven
by COVID-19 are also threatening global food security. It
has been warned that the number of people at risk of acute
hunger after the pandemic could rise from 135 million to 265
million by the end of the year,102 due to disruption in food
supply chains, movement and transport restrictions, and
reductions in people's purchasing power. Further, COVID-19
may be the worst but is certainly not the only recent
pandemic with a devastating economic impact on countries
or regions. SARS resulted in an estimated 1 per cent decrease
in China's GDP and a 0.5 per cent decrease in Southeast Asia,
damaging all sectors of the economy.
The increased risk of new zoonotic diseases such
as COVID-19 poses a threat to already marginalized

© John P. Starr / WWF

groups, including indigenous communities and
women. COVID-19 has highlighted that indigenous peoples
can be particularly vulnerable to the health and economic
impacts of pandemics. For example, in the Navajo Nation
of North America, the reported COVID-19 infection rate is
10 times higher than the general population of Arizona.103
Likewise, in Brazil, COVID-19 has affected at least 34
indigenous communities, many of which live in areas with
no health facilities.104 Lockdowns and travel restrictions
have also disproportionately affected indigenous people,
as many work in the informal economy and rely on income
from markets, handicrafts, seasonal work and tourism to
support themselves.105 For example, many of the Batwa
people of Uganda, usually reliant on income through
offering low-cost labour, have lost their livelihoods due
to lockdown measures.106 Furthermore, the economic and
social impacts of pandemics such as COVID-19 have a clear
gender bias. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, there
have been widespread reports of surges in gender-based
violence, as women are confined with their abusers during
quarantine. For every three months that lockdowns continue,
an additional 15 million cases of gender-based violence are
expected.107 In addition, many women now have lower access
to key health services including sexual and reproductive
health, as well as maternal, new-born and child health


COVID-19 Report

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of COVID-19 Report

COVID-19 Report - 1
COVID-19 Report - 2
COVID-19 Report - Contents
COVID-19 Report - 4
COVID-19 Report - 5
COVID-19 Report - 6
COVID-19 Report - 7
COVID-19 Report - 8
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