Coronavirus – what is happening?
The 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is one of the different types of human coronaviruses which also include the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronaviruses. This virus causes infection in the nose, sinuses or upper throat which can lead to severe pneumonia.
As of February 4, 2020, 12:15 (China time), the coronavirus data are as follows:
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The first outbreak of 2019-nCov occurred in December 2019 from a seafood market in Wuhan and has spread rapidly in all cities earlier this year. This forced the Chinese government to declare it a national emergency and on January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed the outbreak of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) as a “public health emergency in need of international concern”.
The WHO designation comes as countries worldwide also reported more than a hundred cases combined, causing a global alarm and public anxiety. Several countries have undertaken the evacuation of their citizens out of China and have imposed a travel ban to and from China to ensure public safety. Various global airlines have also decided to suspend flights to China and offered travelers a rebooking on later dates or a full refund of their tickets.
Furthermore, the world is watching as the global economy braces for a slowdown. In retrospect, the SARS crisis wiped $40 billion off world markets. The economic impact of the 2019-nCoV may still depend on further disruptions it can cause on trade, travel, consumer confidence, and financial networks.
Should you be worrying?
The answer is yes and no. Yes, because there is no definite time when the virus will stop spreading. No, because you might have experienced it before during the SARS crisis, and you overcame it.
In 2002, SARS was estimated to have cut Mainland China’s gross domestic product by 1.1% and that of Hong Kong’s services sector by 2.6%. It had killed almost 800 people worldwide until 2015 with the last reported case. Currently, the impact of 2019-nCoV on the economy is not yet measured, however, it already has more than 400 deaths in China within a month and 20,000 people have been sickened. While this is the case, the mortality rate for 2019-nCoV is lesser than SARS. The Wuhan coronavirus has a mortality rate of two percent while SARS had eight to nine percent. Moreover, most of those who succumbed to the virus were either elderly, had weak immune systems, or pre-existing illnesses and thus, heightened their possibility of dying.
According to WHO, China’s quick response was impressive and the country has coordinated with the international community much better than before. Despite that, there are fears of a prolonged virus threat that puts businesses at uncertainty once again. The impact on tourism and consumer demand brings confusion to the state of businesses in China, especially for small entrepreneurs.
Understandably, businesses and investors will express concerns over an epidemic especially taking place in China, a country with a very huge consumer market and investment opportunities. But past events should have prepared them for this. For those who are experiencing it for the first time, it may be useful to rethink your coping mechanisms. This involves the ability to manage and control your business even when such a crisis arises.