CORONAVIRUS ALERT 3/6/2020
The Atlantic Council’s Coronavirus Alert is a regular summary of policy, economic, and business events around the emergency. To stay updated, sign up to the Coronavirus Alert here.
The number of cases of Coronavirus went beyond 100,000, with a jump in new incidents of the virus recorded in countries from Italy to France and Iran, increases in the United States and new cases from countries including the Netherlands. The World Health Organization (WHO) called for concerted action by government to stem the crisis.
QUOTE: “This epidemic can be pushed back, but only with a collective, coordinated and comprehensive approach that engages the entire machinery of government,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the World Health Organization’s director general, quoted in The Wall Street Journal. “This is not a drill.”
HEALTH AND SCIENCE:
- Twelve people have now died in the United States, most of them in Washington state. There are also cases in California, Oregon, New York City, Illinois, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Georgia, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Texas, North Carolina, Arizona, and Florida. Some schools in the Seattle area will close for two weeks.
- The US military delivered testing kits to a cruise ship held off the coast of California, the Washington Post reported. About one-hundred people were to be tested, among them eleven passengers and ten crew who have shown potential signs of coronavirus. On land, health officials are investigating a cluster of cases among about 2,500 passengers on an earlier cruise. Among those, one man, seventy-one, has since died of coronavirus.
- Peter Navarro, the White House’s trade and manufacturing adviser, criticized nations including Germany, Russia, and Turkey after they rushed to limit exports of medical equipment, the Financial Times quoted him as saying. It shows that the United States is “alone” in confronting the outbreak, Navarro told the FT.
- Eleven new cases of coronavirus were reported in New York state, bringing the total to twenty-two. Two patients in New York City are critically ill. Officials there said there are 2,773 residents are being monitored in their homes, most of them in self-isolation.
- France recorded 138 new cases on March 5, taking the total to 423, CNBC reported. In Italy, forty-one additional deaths were reported, taking the total to 148. The country announced $8.4 billion in aid, more than twice that originally planned, to tackle the outbreak.
- The first death from coronavirus was reported in the UK, where cases have doubled from two days earlier to 116, The Guardian said. The victim was a woman in her seventies with underlying health conditions. The government said it’s now highly likely the virus will spread in a “significant way.”
- Doctors say the UK is ill prepared for a rise in cases of the virus, with a lack of emergency beds, the New York Times reported. “The NHS [National Health Service] has never been in a worse state going into something like this,” said Dr. Dominic Pimenta, a cardiologist and author in London. “The dominoes have been stacked for ten years. It wouldn’t have taken much to tip them over.”
- An Iranian diplomat tested positive for the virus as the country reported hundreds of new cases, the Washington Post said. A French lawmaker has contracted the virus, the Vatican reported its first case, while the first death from the condition occurred in the Netherlands, the Washington Post said.
- There’s been a run on face masks in South Korea. The government has imposed draconian measures to control their distribution, ABC news reported. Health officials advise people to wear a mask when they are with other people and to change face masks daily.
- China has imposed a strict ban on the hunting and farming of wild animals across the country, CNN reported. The coronavirus epidemic is thought to have started at a wildlife market in Wuhan, according to CNN.
QUOTE: “Will coronavirus change how we live?” a headline in The Financial Times reads. “What seemed like an age of infinite possibility is starting to look a lot more fragile.”
FINANCE AND ECONOMICS:
- Congress approved $8.3 billion of emergency spending to help the United States cope with the impact of Coronavirus.
- Funds that invest in global equities had $23.2 billion in withdrawals in a week as the economic impact of the virus intensifies, the Financial Times reported. Investors withdrew $2.9 billion from funds that focus on European equities in the week to Wednesday, making it the worst week for the asset class since July 2016,
- Government bonds were more appealing, reaching historic highs today, as investors opted for government debt following a rout in stock markets.
- “Beyond the obvious public health crisis, the coronavirus has had a significant impact on Gulf economies,” writes The Atlantic Council’s Jonathan Fulton. “[A]n over-reliance upon energy exports, long understood to be a structural weakness in their economies, has become even more apparent.”
- Beware of criminals pretending to be the WHO, the United Nations health agency warns on its website. “Criminals are disguising themselves as WHO to steal money or sensitive information.”
QUOTE: “Policy failure is here,” George Saravelos, Deutsche Bank’s global head of currency research, wrote in a note, Bloomberg reported. “We disagree with central bank pronouncements that there is room to fight the crisis.”
BUSINESS AND TRAVEL:
- Airplane passenger sales worldwide could fall by between $63 billion and $113 billion this year, International Air Transport Association said in a statement.
- Italy’s top soccer league, the Serie A, will restart this weekend in empty stadiums, beginning with matches postponed because of coronavirus, ESPN reported. The government there has ordered that all sporting events be played without spectators until April 3.
QUOTE: “In Vietnam, they’ve produced a music video along with a dance challenge,” BBC News says of a handwashing song. “[T]he tune has taken the country by storm and has since gone global.”
- Johns Hopkins University interactive web-based dashboard to visualize and track reported cases in real-time.
- CDC provides frequent updates and background information on Coronavirus.
- The World Health Organization daily situation reports.
- Harvard Business Review guidance on managing the emergency for corporate decisionmakers.
- The Society for Human Resource Management resources on managing communicable diseases.
- The Wall Street Journal has a useful guide to travel and travel insurance.
- State Department Travel Advisory for China.