The virus, which originated in Wuhan, China, has sickened more than 124,000 in at least 108 countries and more than 4,500 have died. The spread has slowed in China but is gaining speed in Europe and the United States. World Health Organization officials said the outbreak qualifies as a global pandemic.
It is a novel virus named for the crown like spikes that protrude from its surface. The coronavirus (COVID-19) can infect both animals and people and can cause a range of respiratory illnesses from the common cold to lung lesions and pneumonia. It seems to spread very easily from person to person, especially in homes, hospitals and other confined spaces. The pathogen can travel through the air, enveloped in tiny respiratory droplets that are produced when a sick person breathes, talks, coughs or sneezes.
Several drugs are being tested, and some initial findings are expected soon but a vaccine to stop the spread is still at least a year away.
The virus outbreak has become one of the biggest threats to the global economy and financial markets.
Major institutions and banks have cut their forecasts for the global economy, with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) being one of the latest to do so. Meanwhile, fears of the COVID-19 impact on the global economy have rocked markets worldwide, with stock prices and bond yields plunging.
The OCED Interim Economic Assessment Report released on 2 March 2020 on the subject of Coronavirus: The World Economy at Risk classified the impact of coronavirus into the following three categories:
- Global Economic Growth Slowdown:
China’s gross domestic product growth saw the largest downgrade in terms of magnitude, according to the report. The Asian economic giant is expected to grow by 4.9 percent this year, slower than the earlier forecast of 5.7 percent said OECD.
Meanwhile, the global economy is expected to grow by 2.4 percent in 2020 — down from the 2.9 percent projected earlier, said the report.
Here is a graphic view of GDP growth in the context of 2019, 2020 (Old Forecast), and 2020 (New Forecast) on: World, US, Euro Area, China, and Japan.
- Manufacturing Activity in Major Economies:
The manufacturing sector in China has been hit hard by the virus outbreak. Such a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing has hurt countries with close economic links to China, many of which are Asia Pacific economies such as Vietnam, Singapore and South Korea.
Factories in China are taking longer than expected to resume operations, several analysts said. That, along with a rapid spread of COVID-19 outside China, means that global manufacturing activity could remain subdued for longer, economists said.
Here is a graphic view of the impact on Manufacturing Activity in major economies: US, Eurozone, China, and Japan.
- Service Activity in Major Economies:
The virus outbreak in China has also hit the country’s services industry as reduced consumer spending hurt retail stores, restaurants and aviation among others.
China is not the only country where the services sector has weakened. The services sector in the U.S., the world’s largest consumer market, also contracted in February, according to IHS Markit, which compiles the monthly PMI data.
One reason behind the U.S. services contraction was a reduction in “new business from abroad as customers held back from placing orders amid global economic uncertainty and the coronavirus outbreak,” said IHS Markit.
Here is a graphic view of the impact on Services Activity in major economies: US, Eurozone, China, and Japan.
Scientists have understood for decades that climate change would change the way diseases spread, but, as the planet warms, those hypotheses are being tested and scientists are learning in real time. There are many links between climate change and infectious diseases including how rising temperatures are making natural immune systems less effective.
For decades, scientists have recognized that climate change would lead to a range of public health consequences. A 1992 report from the National Academy of Sciences, for example, cited a number of ways climate change could lead to the spread of infectious disease and described the lack of resources devoted to studying the impact of climate change on disease as “disturbing.” Four years later, a widely-cited paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association warned that climate change could increase the spread of everything from malnutrition to malaria, and called for concerted study between doctors, climate scientists and social scientists. That same year the World Health Organization published a 300-page tome on the topic, looking at a slew of ties between climate and health, but at the same time noting that the links are “complex and multifactorial.”
Climatic factors influence the emergence and reemergence of infectious diseases, in addition to multiple human, biological, and ecological determinants. Climatologists have identified upward trends in global temperatures and now estimate an unprecedented rise of 2.0°C by the year 2100. Of major concern is that these changes can affect the introduction and dissemination of many serious infectious diseases.
This year was supposed to be a big one in the international fight against climate change. But the fast spreading new coronavirus disease, COVID-19, is posing a triple-threat to action that could derail the Paris Agreement effort to combat global warming, worried experts say.
The disease is a challenge for climate change action on multiple fronts. COVID-19 has already disrupted crucial negotiations ahead of a November conference in Glasgow that could determine the Paris Agreement’s success in reducing emissions. The outbreak may supplant climate concerns in the minds of the public, weakening political will at a key moment. And it may encourage burning fossil fuels in hopes of restarting the global economy.
More than 3,000 people have succumbed to coronavirus yet, according to the World Health Organization, air pollution alone – just one aspect of our central planetary crisis – kills seven million people every year. But very seldom appropriate political statements are made detailing the emergency action being taken to reassure the public. In time, we’ll overcome any coronavirus pandemic. With the climate crisis, we are already out of time, and are now left mitigating the inevitably disastrous consequences hurtling towards us.
While coronavirus is understandably treated as an imminent danger, the climate crisis is still presented as an abstraction whose consequences are decades away. Unlike an illness, it is harder to visualize how climate breakdown will affect us each as individuals. Perhaps when unprecedented wildfires engulfed parts of the Arctic last summer there could have been an urgent conversation about how the climate crisis was fueling extreme weather, yet there wasn’t. In 2018, more than 60 million people suffered the consequences of extreme weather and climate change, including more than 1,600 who perished in Europe, Japan and the US because of heatwaves and wildfires. Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe were devastated by cyclone Idai, while hurricanes Florence and Michael inflicted $24bn (£18.7bn) worth of damage on the US economy, according to the World Meteorological Organization.
Everybody knows that Antarctic ice is melting more than six times faster than it was four decades ago and Greenland’s ice sheet four times faster than previously thought. According to the UN, we have 10 years to prevent a 1.5C rise above pre-industrial temperature but, whatever happens, we will suffer.
Pandemics and the climate crisis may go hand in hand, too: research suggests that changing weather patterns may drive species to higher altitudes, potentially putting them in contact with diseases for which they have little immunity. “It’s strange when people see the climate crisis as being in the future, compared to coronavirus, which we’re facing now,” says Friends of the Earth’s co-executive director, Miriam Turner.
Greely, Ontario, Canada 16 March 2020