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Raising Development Impact through Evaluation

Responding to the Novel Coronavirus Crisis – 13 Lessons from Evaluation

Evaluation Document | 12 February 2020

The 2019 novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), first reported from Wuhan, People’s Republic of China (PRC), on 31 December 2019, is the latest emerging infectious disease to be declared a public health emergency of international concern. The situation is rapidly evolving, with more than 43,000 confirmed cases reported from at least 25 countries, and more than 1,000 deaths as of 11 February 2020, with PRC accounting for nearly all (99%) cases and deaths.

The ease of world travel and increased global interdependence have added complexity to containing diseases like the COVID-19 that affect the health and economic stability of societies. The immediate challenge is to respond urgently to contain the spread of the novel virus and to rapidly identify, isolate, and treat infected patients, but in ways that would help improve future responses.  

Besides the enormous human toll, the economic impact of cross-border transmission and the spread of emerging infectious diseases on tourism, trade, and productivity can reach billions of US dollars.

As the world faces the daunting task of containing the spread of COVID-19 and treating the ill, past evaluations of the financial and technical responses from multilateral agencies including the Asian Development Bank to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Ebola, and Avian Influenza provide some lessons on supporting countries during and after the critical phases of the outbreaks.