The Corona Virus (COVID-19) threatens to become a global pandemic with the diagnosed toll rising to 89,773 across 60 countries and over 3000 reported deaths. The virus emerged late last year in China and the country continues to report the highest number of confirmed cases and deaths – 80,026 cases, 2,912 deaths as of 2ndMarch 2020. Iran has reported 1,501 confirmed cases and 54 deaths from the virus – the most after China. Italy is the centre of the outbreak in Europe with 1,694 confirmed cases and 34 deaths.
Indonesia, previously unaffected, has confirmed 2 cases adding to the global toll. USA, Australia and France have also reported cases. While spread of the virus slows in China, the outbreak has picked up in South Korea (500 cases), the US and across Europe leaving nations scrambling to contain the virus.
Several cases identified and diagnosed in countries around the world have reported recent travel from highly affected countries. Pakistan and Australia identified the virus in passengers coming from Iran while an Italian tested positive in Jaipur, India. USA reported a mix of cases – some had travelled while the others had contracted the virus domestically. Authorities in all countries have quarantined affectees and are busy tracking those who have been in contact with these individuals. Schools have been closed and sick employees have been encouraged to stay at home to prevent the virus from spreading.
With uncertainty looming in the air due to the virus, economic activity has also taken a hit. The closure of China’s ports - which had been acting as the "World's Factory" has disrupted the world’s supply chain. Financial markets globally have reported the worst performance since 2008 and volatility extremely high. A pandemic lasting six months could knock $1.1 trillion off the expected growth of the global GDP - Oxford Economic's Report. With travel bans and closing of borders, the global airline industry is estimated to lose $29 billion this year (IATA).
Authorities around the world are dreading the spread of the pandemic, but fatalities are not the cause of concern. The reported deaths are 2-3% of the affectees, lesser than deaths resulting from existing, more threatening viruses. What is alarming is that the corona virus currently has no cure. While the WHO works on developing vaccines and testing them, the countries have no way to prevent the spread of the virus or curing them. The virus can be mistaken for the common flu as its main symptoms are flu like - high fever, coughing and sneezing. However, we are yet to develop immunity to it.