COVID-19 - more commonly known as the coronavirus - has unleashed massive shock waves among the worldwide health, science, government and business communities as societies are trying to contain the virus. At the moment, the scale and velocity at which the coronavirus is spreading are proving difficult to manage because the regional clustering of the outbreak has moved beyond the initial Hubei province of China to South Korea, Iran, Europe and parts of North America.
The coronavirus is not the first serious epidemic that has claimed hundreds of lives and caused enormous economic losses to the global economy. In 2002, when the SARS epidemic began in China, officials and the general population did not immediately sound the alarm and were reluctant to share information with the international health community. Consequently, there were around 8,000 cases of the virus reported worldwide, and more than 750 people died as a result.
The Chinese government claimed that it had taken all the necessary measures to neutralize and contain the virus but did not immediately announce official statistics on those infected and deceased. The impact was widespread as the country's economy lost 2–3% of its annual real GDP growth, total sales of goods and services fell by 5%, and industrial production fell by 6% - these are just some of the negative effects of the epidemic.
This new coronavirus is no different - only its scale and economic consequences are more severe than the 2002 SARS outbreak. Cases of infections have been detected in more than 20 countries, and many of them, such as the United States, Singapore, Japan, and Thailand have cut off air travel with China in an attempt to contain the spread.
The economic consequences are still difficult to calculate, but some facts can already be noted: Air France–KLM has disclosed that it had already suffered $200 million in losses due to the virus and that the airline industry had lost about $1 billion in total. Kia Motors has closed all its manufacturing plants in South Korea, Apple has also joined in by suspending stores and factories in China, and New York has announced that it's spending about $1 million a day fighting the disease. Global commodity markets also shuddered, with the price of oil falling to a record low of $54 per barrel over fears of declining resource consumption in Asian markets.