As the coronavirus continues to spread, there is rising, palpable apprehension among many global businesses. The continued spread of the virus is reminiscent of the SARS epidemic that hit China many years ago. The possibility of a repeat occurrence, either as strong as the SARS situation or even stronger, is already triggering general business anxiety and unease.
Coronavirus Continues to Spread
At the moment, there isn’t a lot of progress with curbing the virus. Bloomberg reports that the death toll has jumped overnight, with a new total of over 100 deaths. As the coronavirus proves to be highly contagious, authorities suspect that unknown cases of an infection are more than 1000 as. The number of confirmed cases, unfortunately, has jumped at least 65% to 4,515 people.
In response, the Chinese government has officially extended the Lunar New Year holiday, as it struggles to curb the spread. Also, there is a complete travel lockdown in many places including the Hubei province, where the virus broke out in Wuhan. The travel ban currently affects more than 50 million people.
In other parts of the world, fear is rising. Cases in the U.S., South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan, France, and Canada have already been confirmed. German authorities also announced its first case very recently.
Even with all this, the World Health Organization (WHO) is yet to declare the outbreak a global health emergency. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, however, had a meeting in Beijing with China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
Coronavirus Squeezing Businesses
The coronavirus already has a biting effect on the global stock market and businesses as well. Many Chinese organizations have asked staff to work remotely while others completely suspended work until further notice. The Hong Kong government has also asked civil servants to work remotely and has closed down many public facilities. Some of these places include museums, libraries, swimming pools, e.t.c.
Consumption is heavily hit and effects will continue to be felt until the spread is definitively curbed. It might be difficult for the Chinese government to grant a further extension of the holidays, but it would be unsurprising it does.
Tourism is also hard hit as travel to and from China has been suspended until further notice. All tourist trips including cruise voyages have also been postponed with the organizing companies promising refunds to customers.
Businesses, Governments, Initiate Evacuation
Several automakers, including Nissan Motor Co., are already making plans to remove their workers from the riskier parts of the country. These companies are already willing to suspend production until further notice. This is a big blow to their businesses and to the Chinese economy as well.
Even though the WHO DG has said that evacuation is unnecessary, Japan and the U.S. are working on removing some of their nationals from China. The U.S. is currently looking to relocate an unspecified number of personnel from Wuhan. Japan, is also working on bringing back 200 people who have indicated a desire to leave China, however temporarily.
The coronavirus reportedly has a two-week incubation period before symptoms are visible. This means that infected people could unknowingly spread it to others.
China has admitted that the coronavirus is not yet under control.
Tolu is a cryptocurrency and blockchain enthusiast based in Lagos. He likes to demystify crypto stories to the bare basics so that anyone anywhere can understand without too much background knowledge.
When he’s not neck-deep in crypto stories, Tolu enjoys music, loves to sing and is an avid movie lover.