In the most serious epidemic since 2002’s SARS outbreak, the Wuhan coronavirus threatens to curtail billions in global spending. At over 50,000 people infected with more than 1,300 deaths, the coronavirus continues to spark panic across world. Current reports suggest that symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath – but can vary up to severe illness and death. The threat of a pandemic drove quarantines and travel bans from multiple governments. Further information about the sickness remains vague.
This combination of factors drained $280 billion out of the global economy since the start of the epidemic. The engine of China’s trade hub ground to a halt as entire cities became locked down. The quarantines impact not only China, but all the goods that pass through on their way to other destinations. Analysts now predict that China could see sub-5% growth as a result of the disaster. Should the worst happen, it would be one of the worst quarters for China in recent history.
Wuhan and Information Reliability
The originating city of Wuhan is now under a complete quarantine. At a population of 11 million, this is no small task – and speaks to the Chinese government’s control over their populace. Following the SARS outbreak, information arose that suggested China had withheld critical information. Wuhan appears no different, and it leaves the global community reeling as they try to determine the true scope of the problem.
The truth almost certainly lies closer to China’s official numbers than some of the outlandish conspiracy theories emerging. However, even former U.S. officials believe that the number could be exponentially higher than China admits. Much like SARS, the economic impact will likely continue until the international community is certain the situation is resolved.
Coronavirus Causing International Issues
Countries around the globe have shown varied responses to the sickness. The United States and several others banned flights from certain Chinese cities. Beyond that, the Federal Reserve suggested that another rate cut may be on the table as a way to curtail losses from the coronavirus effect. As the economy shows signs of wavering, this could result in a disastrous scenario. Additional cuts would leave no maneuvering space in the event of a major recession.
Flights are not the only travel method impacted. Several cruise ships have been denied entry by multiple ports, leaving passengers in dire straits. Four ports denied entry to the Holland America ship “Westerdam,” leaving thousands of passengers stuck at sea. More alarming, there are no reported cases of the coronavirus aboard.
On the brighter note, the most recent numbers out of China show that new deaths and new infections dropped compared to the prior day. On February 13, 2020, China reported 116 new deaths and 4,823 new cases within the Hubei province, “ground zero” of the outbreak. This compares to the day prior when 240 new deaths and 15,000 new infections were reported. More time will be needed to determine if this was just a one-day blip, or if this is the beginning of coronavirus virus slowing down.
Article By: Adam Stone