The coronavirus is stoking fears of a global pandemic as outbreaks continue worldwide with an uptick in cases being reported in Italy, Iran and South Korea. Health officials around the world are expressing skepticism about being able to contain Covid-19 as the number of confirmed cases climbs to 83,867.
On Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that the risk of the coronavirus spreading is “very high” but urges the public to understand that the risk can be mitigated.
“Our epidemiologists have been monitoring these developments continuously, and we have now increased our assessment of the risk of spread and the risk of impact of COVID-19 to very high at a global level.
What we see at the moment are linked epidemics of COVID-19 in several countries, but most cases can still be traced to known contacts or clusters of cases. We do not see evidence as yet that the virus is spreading freely in communities.
As long as that’s the case, we still have a chance of containing this virus, if robust action is taken to detect cases early, isolate and care for patients and trace contacts.”
French health officials are confirming 57 cases, up from 38, and believe that the virus has entered a “new stage in the epidemic”. French Health Minister Oliver Veran is urging people to refrain from shaking hands, reports Reuters.
The World Health Organization is also stressing that hand hygiene is the number one way for people to protect themselves and to stop the coronavirus from spreading. Frequent hand-washing, not wearing a face mask, is the most important step the public can take to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the World Health Organization said Thursday.
In Arizona, where there has been only one confirmed case, health officials are implementing same-day testing for coronavirus, making it one of a few states in the US to screen people within a 24-hour period. Cara Christ, director of Arizona Department of Health Services, expects the testing to begin on Monday.
Meanwhile, anxiety over containment is pummeling the markets, with the Dow Industrial Average targeting its biggest weekly decline since the global financial crisis of 2008. After dropping 1,000 points on Monday, the Dow plunged 1,191 points on Thursday, marking its worst one-day point drop in history to close at 25,766.64. The sell-off has extended into Friday, with the Dow tumbling over 800 points at time of writing.
Bitcoin, which has been widely touted as a safe-haven asset against geopolitical tensions and market uncertainty, is down 2.67% at $8,623, sliding from $9,696 over the past seven days.
Disruption to the markets has set off a number of broad notices.
Amazon is halting work trips, telling its employees to defer all non-essential travel, including within the United States, to curb the spread of the coronavirus among its staff. The company, which employs 798,000 full and part-time works worldwide, informed its ranks on Thursday, says Dave Clark, Amazon’s senior vice president of worldwide operations, reports Reuters.
Facebook has canceled its annual F8 developers conference in San Jose, California, replacing the in-person event with “locally hosted events, videos and live-streamed content,” according to a company statement.
“In light of the growing concerns around COVID-19, we’ve made the difficult decision to cancel the in-person component of F8 this year, in order to prioritize the health and safety of our developer partners, employees and everyone who helps put F8 on.”
In addition to China, the epicenter of the outbreak, several countries are impacted by restrictions on travel and flight bans, including South Korea, Italy, Singapore, Iran, Japan and Mongolia. Outside of Italy, Germany is now the second-largest site of coronavirus cases in Europe.
With Japan’s call for a two-week halt on public events across the country, a senior member of the International Olympic Committee has warned that the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, slated for July 24 to August 9, could be canceled.
Other big events that are being canceled or postponed
- Mobile World Congress in Barcelona
- Milan Furniture Fair
- Dalai Lama – all public engagements
- Chinese Grand Prix
- Venice, Italy carnival
- Nice, France carnival
- Religious pilgrimages in Saudi Arabia by foreigners
- Geneva International Motor Show
While companies are bracing for the impact of coronavirus on their supply chains due to travel and trade disruption, Corona Beer appears to have a branding issue. According to a report by Complex, the popular beer is dealing with fall-out due to its name, with purchase intent among Americans declining to its lowest level in two years.
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