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The 7 lessons coronavirus has been teaching us

The novel coronavirus, COVID-19, is derived from a large family of coronaviruses which are common causes of colds and other upper respiratory infections. Although a close cousin of the virus, the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or SARS was more lethal but much less contagious than COVID-19. Till now, there have been no outbreaks of SARS worldwide, since its emergence in 2003. Zoonotic in nature, the pathogenicity of the coronavirus has caused a massive public hysteria –triggering governments and institutions alike to race into developing vaccines and anti-resistant drugs to fight off this plague. 

Nonetheless, every cloud has a “silver lining”, if you may, and as does this pandemic. It is about time we put things to perspective.

Mindfulness

This is the time to introspect on our mindless habitual behaviours which are causing these calamities. Every single one of our actions can have a dangerous reaction and the exponential growth of the coronavirus is, nevertheless, the seamless example of it. If we are more mindful, we can mitigate this crisis by a 3 fold. So, wash your hands. Wash them every time you come home. Wash them every time you are about to eat. And sanitize them every time you are out. Being aware will help us uphold this practice sustainably.

It is even more imperative because even though the incubation period of the coronavirus ranges from 1 to 14 days, this is a novel coronavirus, and that means –it could be asymptomatic for some carriers. For instance, a study revealed that 17.9% of people with the virus had no symptoms.

Prevention is better than cure

Coronavirus is the symbol of how we have taken everything for granted. We are the least bothered regarding washing or sanitizing our hands before eating. Never do we consider the penalties of this simple, but massive, slip-up. Ultimately, the only solution is to break ourselves from this mechanical inertia. Washing our hands effectively gets rid of the viral envelope of the coronavirus. Besides, hygiene is at the hub of maintaining good health and lifespans. It is vital to exercise proper sanitation to preserve economic and social well-being, and it should and must start from now.

The impact of communal effort

With over 36,000 people infected with the coronavirus, there is no herd immunity, indicating that everybody is vulnerable to infection. However, the global crisis has given us a glimpse of how a community-level coordinated response can tackle the spread of the virus. This has also shown us how vital it is to practice empathy and compassion, and with that, maintain social distancing –so that we can protect ourselves and those who are immunodeficient. Such measures like this are critical to flatten the curve of the pandemic. And disregarding procedures like this can make structural problems of the pandemic wider –as the real restrictive factors are expected to be the ventilators or the staff.

Being vigilant, not an alarmist

Fear is infectious, and in a time of a health crisis such as this, nothing is more important than staying alert, yet clam. Eventually, the only device to succumb to is the facts. The effects of consuming sensationalist media coverage regarding coronavirus pave the way for excessive panic.  At any rate, it is important to refrain from all that noise and merely heed official medical information and guidance and take care of yourself.

The need for better health surveillance

Although coronavirus is highly invasive, it is containable. And things could not have gotten to this degree if it had not been due to our culture of polarization. The skewered responses, collectively, have unveiled the failure of multilateral global health authorities. Member state-driven decision-making clarifies why the WHO tends to comply to national governments’ demands and agendas, even when they might impugn the organization’s primary mission. Yet, reverence to the sovereignty of one member state does not work if it put other nations and their people at risk.

Regardless, global health governance must fund country-level pandemic groundwork, surveillance, and response. And more money alone will not crack the operational problems that have condensed early control efforts.

Responsible capitalism as the saving grace

Currently, the C-suites everywhere are immersed with no steady answers, just best judgments and myriad mysteries over supply chains, volatile markets and the effect of travel bans and social distancing. However, liable firms will do everything imaginable to protect their people, i.e. employees, customers and supply chains. Reassuring health and safety are going to be the leading priority; the following will be to try to diminish the financial burden, particularly for staff on risky contracts. Yet, it is easier said than done.

But firms who offset this demand by providing real help to other groups will see vast benefits in the months and years ahead. These companies, who reckon the bigger picture, will shape a more resilient and more faithful workforce, be better positioned to undertake a persistent economic storm. All the huge corporations should be able to shield susceptible workers via dedicated schemes and cast-iron minimum income, including those people incapable to perform their duties because of sickness or through no fault of their own.

The time to digitally transform is now

In light of travel bans, school cessations, and recommendations to no mass gatherings and keeping our distance from others to curb the escalation of the virus, many people converted to digital tools to keep some aspect of normalcy. It has been pivotal to digitally transform our places of vocation and education to be able to operate effectually. Those companies able to use technology well to keep going and reconstruct their business model for the future by hastening digital transformation will be the ones ahead of their competition.

Even companies that were unaffected to the concept of a dispersed workforce have been compelled to allow working from home, so work can still be done while taking protection to halt the spread of the virus. At the core, the pandemic has established momentum in how we probably will do business. As Advertising mogul Sir Martin Sorrell advocated that the coronavirus outbreak will stimulate digital revolution, captivating consumers and businesses to move forward as things get tough.

It is fundamental to recognize that this pandemic will probably not be the last. But it gives us several contingency plans to prepare for. That being said, the time to be socially present and responsible is now –and it is up to us to transform the course of this pandemic. The right responses can minimize the repercussions, only if we act with clarity and most significantly, practice patience. After all, as Samuel Johnson once said, “Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance”.  

Wuhan Coronavirus: A threat to the global economy

The Coronavirus outbreak that originated in Wuhan has killed at least 427 people and infected nearly 20,000 people across 26 countries so far. Ever since tackling the menace that SARS had brought to China nearly two decades ago, the country’s importance in the global economy has increased exponentially. Now, 17 years later, the world’s most populous country has been attacked yet again with another deadly epidemic: Coronavirus.

Everything you need to know about the Coronavirus

Read more: Everything you need to know about the Coronavirus

According to Andy Rothman, an economist at Matthews Asia, China today accounts for about one-third of the total economic growth, which is a larger share of global growth than that of the U.S., Europe and Japan combined. Over time, besides producing simple low-value products like plastic goods and clothing, China had achieved dominance in more advanced and lucrative pursuits like gadgets, smartphones, computers and auto parts. The country has now evolved into an essential part of the global supply chain that produces components required for factories from Mexico to Malaysia. Also, China had just joined the World Trade Organization, gaining access to markets around the globe. While the country was harnessing its seemingly limitless supply of low-wage workers to produce cheap consumer goods, its economy was more focused on exports.

Moreover, being a nation of 1.4 billion people with a growing appetite for electronic gadgets and fashion apparel, China has now risen into an enormous consumer market. According to the World Bank, since joining the WTO, China’s annual economic output had multiplied more than eightfold to nearly $14 trillion from $1.7 trillion. Its share of global trade has more than doubled to 12.8 per cent last year from 5.3 per cent in 2003, according to Oxford Economics. After SARS, China had suffered several months of economic contraction, but it had rebounded dramatically as well. That might happen this time too, but one thing that we’re certain of is that whatever happens in China will be felt widely.

Everything you need to know about the Coronavirus 2

According to a conservative forecast of the Oxford Economics that is based on the impacts of the virus so far, China’s economic growth is expected to drop to 5.6 per cent this year from 6.1 per cent last year. This would lead to a downfall in global economic growth by 0.2 per cent bringing it to 2.3 per cent (the slowest pace since we faced the global financial crisis a decade ago!!).

The frightening epidemic coinciding with a major holiday in China will certainly bring a substantial loss to China’s tourism and hospitality industry.

While international airlines including British Airways, American Delta and Lufthansa have cancelled all their flights to China, international companies that rely on China for either production or sales are now in deep trouble. As shopping malls remain deserted, apparel stores like Under Armor clothing and Nike face-threatening sales. Besides, as the government has extended the Lunar New Year holidays to halt the spread of the deadly virus, workers who went to visit their families during that time remain stuck in their hometowns. As a result, the activities of car factories that produce for companies like Toyota and General Motors remain suspended. Moreover, stores like Ikea, Apple and Starbucks have already closed all their stores in China.

“It’s too early to say how long it is going to last”, says Ms Rohini Malkani, an economist at DBRS Morningstar, a global credit rating business. It’s true; no one really knows how long the Coronavirus outbreak will last, how far it will spread or how many more lives it will claim. It is impossible to calculate the extent to which it will disrupt China’s economy but the country’s stellar stature in the world economy means that the impact of the outbreak will substantially exceed that of SARS. 

Everything you need to know about the Coronavirus

The Coronavirus is at the forefront of discussions and news. There is plenty of information and misinformation out there. Some commentators are panicked, others are ambivalent and feeling distant from the reach of the virus. Here is an overview of the Coronavirus.

What is the coronavirus?

Coronavirus is a virus that displays symptoms like normal everyday cold or flu – fever, fatigue, sore throat, dry cough and berating difficulties. The family of coronavirus included the SARS epidemic of 2002-3 that infected 8,098 people worldwide and caused 774 deaths. Another coronavirus that infected people was the MERS outbreak that began on the Arabian Peninsula in 2012 and still lingers. Scientists have isolated and identified the virus from its family by the name “nCoV-2019”. 

Where did the virus originate? 

On December 31, 2019, the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) China office heard the first reports of a previously-unknown virus behind a number of pneumonia cases in Wuhan, a city in Eastern China with a population of over 11 million. On 11 and 12 January 2020, WHO received further detailed information from the National Health Commission China that the outbreak was associated with exposures in one seafood market in Wuhan City. The Chinese authorities identified a new type of coronavirus, which was isolated on 7 January 2020.

Scientists have speculated that the virus has either spread from bats or snakes.

Scientists from the Wuhan Institute of Virology have been researching the connection between coronaviruses and bats. In 2017, after nearly five years of collecting faecal samples from bats, in the Yunnan cave, they found coronaviruses in multiple individuals of four different species of bats, including one called the intermediate horseshoe bat. The genome of that virus is 96 per cent identical to the Wuhan virus that is currently infecting humans. 

What are the symptoms?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, a person could be at risk if they have:

  • Fever and symptoms of lower respiratory illness, such as coughing or difficulty breathing, after travelling to Wuhan or having close contact with someone who was ill and is now under investigation for the virus in the past two weeks.
  • Fever or symptoms of lower respiratory illness after having close contact in the past two weeks with someone who’s been confirmed to have the virus.

Who is most likely to get this virus? 

As of now, the majority of the people who have been diagnosed with this virus are all elder or have been in close contact with wild animals. People who have come into close contact with someone who has had the virus have also been diagnosed.

How far has it spread?

Even though the virus first appeared in China, it has quickly spread to countries like the United States, France, Germany, Sweden, Australia, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan, Macau, Japan and the Philippines, Singapore, Nepal, Sri Lanka, India, Vietnam and the UAE. As of today, there are over 10,000 cases recorded across China and dozens in other countries. At least 213 deaths have occurred in Chine due to the virus.

What steps are being taken to keep this under control?

China has declared a state of emergency and put multiple cities under quarantine to keep the virus under control. China has imposed travel restrictions on at least 16 cities in the Hubei province. It has become so difficult for China to handle the number of patients coming in for diagnosis that it has begun construction of two hospitals to be completed and in use by next week. The Chinese government has also barred its citizens from booking overseas flights. However, there is scepticism regarding the free flow of information about the virus from China in attempts to not cause alarm or bring further damage to the economy. 

Is the global community doing enough?

Many countries like the USA, France and recently Bangladesh, are evacuating citizens from China. Since there has been confirmed cases of human-to-human transmission, the World Health Organization has declared this a Public Health Emergency.

However, must people who have died are the elderly and other medically vulnerable populations with other underlying conditions. Many experts are saying that the likelihood of dying from this virus is very low. Although the virus is spreading rapidly, 2% of those infected have died.

Is there a vaccine?

There is no known vaccine in circulation for the virus as of yet. Given how the virus continues to mutate, scientists say that it is very difficult to find a vaccine for the virus. 

Antibiotics only work against bacteria, not viruses.

What precautions can I take?

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Try not to travel to affected provinces in China and take extra precautions in transport hubs.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Should I be worried?

It is important to stay vigilant and up to date about where the virus has spread. However, it also important to filter through the news and check sources to avoid misinformation. Look for updates from the World Health Organisation and other reputable agencies. It is also not a time to be racist towards any group of people and their culture. Stay calm, take precautions- especially while travelling.