What is Coronavirus?
International panic has ensued as a result of an outbreak of a respiratory disease caused by a new coronavirus (CoV). The virus was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and has now spread internationally to all continents except Antarctica.
The specific virus is named “SARS-CoV-2” and the respiratory disease it causes has been named “coronavirus disease 2019” (“COVID-19”). As previously mentioned, the origin of the virus is Wuhan City, likely from a live animal market, where multiple people became infected through contact with the animals. Transmission then occurred via person to person contact, spreading throughout China and internationally.
Symptoms of COVID-19 are flu-like, including fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Symptoms may appear from two to fourteen days after exposure to the virus. There is still some uncertainty on how exactly the virus spreads.
With a growing 80,067 confirmed cases and 2,764 deaths COVID-19 is becoming a global pandemic with little confidence of a near end in sight. The infection percentage has been fatal in 2-4% of cases in Wuhan, but less than 1% across the globe, according to the World Health Organization. Currently, there no cure for COVID-19.
The Chinese authoritarian regime’s use of censorship has been blamed for its rapid spread during Chinese Lunar New Year. The lack of information shared with citizens and the rest of the globe likely was to portray the Chinese government as in control of the virus and to mitigate panic. However, by attempting to reduce its severity, COVID-19 spread unabated. One of the Chinese doctors who attempted to warn the public of the impeding epidemic reportedly died on February 6, 2020. He was threatened by police in the early stages of this outbreak, and later contracted the virus. Other outspoken citizens who tried to warn others were also silenced.
Recent policies that have been enacted by the US have been directed at preventing the spread of COVID-19:
- January 30, 2020, the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern external icon” (PHEIC).
- On January 31, 2020, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex M. Azar II declared a public health emergency (PHE) for the United States to aid the nation’s healthcare community in responding to COVID-19.
Is the US Prepared
Being the global power that the US is, it can be assumed COVID-19 is certainly managible. In tandem with the Health and Human Services’ announcement of a public emergency concerning, the recent steps hospitals have taken in preparing for an outbreak, and the preventative measures taken with infected Americans trying to get back into the US, the US seems to be on the right path. However, the Health and Human Services Department has dissolved the Pandemic Preparedness Office, leaving no point person managing the American crisis. Additionally, significant funding cuts for the Center for Disease Control occurred during the Trump Administration resulting in a lack of resources for preparedness. Analysts and officials have made statements pointing towards the inevitability the US experiences a pandemic and that the US is simply not prepared to take on the onslaught of COVID-19, while government officials have contradicted scientists’ findings and predictions.
Is the rest of the world prepared?
China appears to be getting the virus under control, with daily confirmed cases on the decline, but infections are spreading rapidly in South Korea, Iran and Italy. The world is not prepared for a major outbreak, World Health Organization officials said on Monday. As a result, it is imperative for nations to have sufficient educational programs informing citizens of the risks and ways to mitigate the spreading of COVID-19. While the likelihood of a global pandemic is high, the largest looming concern is what happens once it reaches Sub Saharan Africa? With Algeria and Egypt reporting the first cases on the continent, it is apparent that containment efforts have failed and the risk of a catastrophic outbreak on African soil could be on the horizon. Overall, it can be said that the globe is not prepared for COVID-19, but nations are learning from the Chinese response to the virus, which received praise by both the CDC and WHO.
What does this epidemic mean for the global economy and trade?
Markets have plunged as fears of an imminent pandemic are becoming more apparent. The Dow has lost more than 1,400 points in the last three trading days, eliminating all gains for the year so far. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq also fell, and Asian markets have been suffering due to the virus. Fears of a wider economic downturn loom as the virus spreadas across the globe and affects other markets. Due to widespread infections, quarantines, and preventions of mass gatherings, manufacturing companies in China have had to halt production. As one of the top manufacturing countries, this has delayed or even halted production in other countries like the US, who depends on China for providing parts for electronic devices and cars. Tourism and travel sectors have suffered as well, as fears of being confined to a space with someone infected has been exemplified with the quarantining of the Diamond Princess cruise ship off the coast of Japan.
Additional outcomes of this outbreak
- Widespread panic and fears
- Increase in racism and xenophobia towards those of Asian decent
- Decrease in international travel
- Delayed key political meetings
- Dips in stock markets and global economy
- Concerns over large gathering for sporting events, like FIFA and Olympics
- For concerns about COVID-19, please seek assistance with the Center for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, or local health officials.
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- Numbers as of February 27, 2020 – Consult the CDC or Johns Hopkins for an update in numbers.
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