The coronavirus has been on minds and broadcasts the world over as cities, planes and cruise ships have been quarantined. Whether it reaches pandemic level proportions remains to be seen, though its recent outbreak in parts of Italy have certainly increased the chances of that happening.
There are several fears surrounding the coronavirus. What are the chances a loved one is infected? What are the chances I am infected? But, on a less personal side, there’s also the question of how businesses might be affected. In this blog we’ll share what we know about the coronavirus, its impact on the global economy and potential steps your business can take.
There’s some confusion about the name. Initially referred to as “the coronavirus,” the Wuhan corona virus, and the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, it is indeed a type of coronavirus. But there are many different types of corona viruses: SARS, MERS to name some of the more popular ones. “Corona” refers to the glow around their ring structure when viewed with a microscope.
This particular coronavirus, which public health officials are now referring to as COVID-19, presents in symptoms like fever, coughing and shortness of breath. It is an airborne virus, easily transferred from a virus carrier to someone else through coughing or a shared touch. The best was to prevent yourself from getting the virus is to keep your hands clean and avoiding people who are sneezing/coughing. For more information about the disease and safety precautions, check out the World Health organization’s (WHO) FAQ here.
There are a few industries that are obviously hurting right now. Any industry depending on goods manufactured in China will have a more difficult time as production in the country has slowed. Analysts anticipate businesses in hospitality, luxury goods and retail will be the most negatively impacted. As more factories close, more industries—like major smartphone providers—will feel the impact. Global stock markets have seen sharp drops as people fear economic slow down.
Airlines are also seeing lower profits as travel demand has diminished considerably. Cruises are seeing a decline as well, especially with one ship being quarantined off the coast of Japan. Additionally, tourism in many major cities—whether because of their location or their preventative measures—has taken a hit.
This is a game of wait and see, and it depends on how effective containment measures are. Cases outside of China—including South Korea, Iran and Italy—have risen in number. While researchers have made major headway toward creating a vaccine, there’s no clear answer as to when it might be available. Should the virus mutate, we could see the infection rate grow in other countries and greater parts of the population.
Whether you’re feeling the impact of COVID-19 or fearing it, there are a few measures your company can take. First, encourage employees exhibiting symptoms to work from home. Even if they don’t have the virus, and it’s unlikely they would, it’s still a good measure to prevent the spread of illness in your workforce. Second, look at cost control measures. Whatever situation your company is currently facing, it never hurts to be flexible. A flexible vehicle program can be a very effective way to control costs. Learn more about the cost control opportunities of our vehicle program options here.