Updates on the Coronavirus and its Effects on Everyday Life
- World Health Organization
The Coronavirus is Spreading
On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus epidemic (coined COVID-19) a pandemic. Within 3 months, the virus spread across the world from Wuhan, China, to every continent, with over a hundred and fifty thousand confirmed cases. Over twenty countries have shut their borders, especially those in the Schengen area of the European Union. Although the amount of daily reported cases are tapering off in China, other countries like Italy and Iran have new, mounting cases beginning to mount, and the World Health Organization declared that Europe is “the new epicentre of the pandemic”. In China, the vast majority of cases were contained in the Hubei province, but the virus is now spreading across an entire continent.
The coronavirus began back in December 2019, when a Wuhan man was taken ill. By January 7, the coronavirus had attracted attention from the Chinese government. By February, the number of cases had reached over 50 thousand and coronavirus had spread outside of China to many neighbouring countries. Scientists determined that the Coronavirus has a R0 (R naught) value of around 2—meaning every infected person will infect two others without intervention—which contributes to the high infectivity of it today. Symptoms of the coronavirus are almost identical to that of the flu, but the pneumonia that may come with it can be especially dangerous.
Impacts of the Virus
The socioeconomic impacts of the coronavirus have not gone unnoticed either. The reaction from communities was enormous: all across the world, masks and disinfectants were swept from the shelves, and people have been pushed to prepare for potential disaster. On March 9, world stock markets fell anywhere from 5% to 15%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) fell 7.79%; trading had to be suspended for 15 minutes to stabilise the situation. Though the market rose again, it got hit harder on March 12, with the DJIA losing an additional 9.99%, most likely due to Trump’s travel ban on Europe leading to a decrease in confidence in the market. This ended the longest bull market ever, and stock markets are no longer expected to rise. This was an expected repercussion of the suffering of China’s economy because of its status as a manufacturing hub. Finally, when the market opened on March 16, the DJIA lost another 9.32%. However, losses and recuperations have been back and forth and the results are still somewhat inconclusive.
The infectivity of the coronavirus has caused multiple governments to take preventive measures; the provincial government of British Columbia has cancelled all gatherings of over 50 people. In Ontario, Spring Break has been extended by another 2 weeks. People are beginning to look for ways to work from home or to attend school remotely. Socially, the virus has brought more enthusiasm for standard hygiene practice like handwashing, and it has been emphasised that cleanliness is the best preventative measure for the coronavirus. Though a cure is still far away and confirmed cases have been increasing, the measures taken by governments and non-governmental organizations have been far more effective than in the past, and we may be finally breaking free from the threat of epidemics.
Devlin, Hannah, and Sarah Boseley. “Coronavirus Facts: Is There a Cure and What Is the Mortality Rate of the Virus?” The Guardian, 15 Mar. 2020. www.theguardian.com, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/15/coronavirus-facts-cure-mortality-rate-virus-covid-19
Times, The New York. “Stocks Drop as Grim Economic Outlook Grips Markets: Live Updates.” The New York Times, 16 Mar. 2020. NYTimes.com, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/16/business/stock-market-today-coronavirus.html.
Feuer, Dawn Kopecki, Berkeley Lovelace Jr ,William. “New Jersey Declares State of Emergency as Coronavirus Cases Surged in Tri-State Area, Italy Extends Its Quarantine to the Entire Country.” CNBC, 9 Mar. 2020, https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/09/coronavirus-latest-updates.html