Coronavirus and the world

Panic now and avoid the rush later. This is exactly what the world is doing now to get ahead of the coronavirus, which is spreading at quite an alarming rate. Over 150 countries have already confirmed cases but the good news is that China, where the virus originated, has managed to contain it by implementing aggressive quarantines and even halting production in the country to contain the virus. Some say the global spread could be over by June if other nations applied similar measures. Meanwhile, Italy and, well, most of Europe is deemed the epicentre of the virus. In Italy at least 1000 people have died from the virus.

In our weekly update we listed a couple of international highlights. Here are some more. 

  • Austria has imposed major restrictions on movement and has banned gatherings with more than five people. 
  • Australia is calling for all travellers to be quarantined for 14 days. 
  • Philippines President ordered a one month lockdown of its capital Manila, starting today. 
  • The Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem has closed its doors for prayer, until further notice. 
  • In India, a total of 107 cases have been confirmed and only two confirmed dead. If the testing is to be believed, this is pretty impressive for a country of over a billion. Local authorities have closed down schools, colleges and malls in most cities, including in the financial hub, Mumbai.
  • South Korea is pretty hands on when it comes to testing for the virus, it tests up to 12 000 patients a day to get ahead. It has also banned travel from France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and other nations. South Korea has reported over 8000 cases. The country had it under control until a super spreader infected thousands of people at a church. 
  • Among Asian nations, Taiwan has so far had the best control, reporting only 59 cases and one death.
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel said last week that two-thirds of the population could be infected – the first world leader to be so frank. Germany already has over 4 600 cases. 
  • The UK has over 1 100 confirmed cases, but it believes it is still in the early stages and has not implemented stringent measures like closing schools, yet. 
  • Disneyland in California has temporarily closed its doors.
  • Africa has reported fewer cases compared to the rest of the world, with a majority of cases coming as a result of travel, not by local transmission. 
  • Many parts of Africa have a relatively strong infrastructure to deal with the virus because of our experience with HIV/Aids and Ebola. 
  • Kenya suspended school and implemented strict travel rules

A number of major sporting events have been cancelled or postponed. 

Here’s a few:

  • The 2020 London Marathon has been postponed to October
  • The Premier League has been suspended until April 
  • The Champions League and Europa League have been postponed
  • All major sporting events in the US have been postponed 
  • The F1 Grand Prix in Australia, Behrain and Vietnam have been cancelled

This means if you’re self isolating there will be limited sport to watch on TV and in SA’s case, possibly no TV at all with load shedding! We suggest you kick it up old school with a good book. ?

Besides its impact on people, the virus also stormed through the global markets in the week.  

  • Major European bourses were in a fragile state for the most part, thanks to a huge slump on the Italian bourse.
  • Traders are concerned about losing their money amid the panic and worry of the virus, so they are flocking to things called ‘safe-haven assets’, like gold and cash, which are less impacted by the world’s events.
  • Things were bad locally too. Emerging market currencies reached their lowest since the global financial crisis in 2008. 
  • The rand passed the R16.00 mark on Thursday. That’s pretty bad compared to its relatively stable rate of R15 that it held for the most of this year. It did, however, manage to recover, but only a little. 
  • As mentioned: Sasol was also the talk of the investment community this week. According to Business Times, if Sasol flounders badly, ‘it would be a massive disruptor to SA’s economy’. And we don’t need that kind of negativity right now, especially with the Reserve Bank’s interest rate meeting this week and Moody’s pending decision on our credit score at the end of March. 

Deep breaths everyone, but maybe not when you’re in confined spaces.

By Aarti Bhana and Verashni Pillay