The threat of the coronavirus is increasing

The epidemic has ignited the alarms of countries outside of China and its effects are also reflected in the stock market.

Woman wearing protective mask.

Woman wearing protective mask. / Photo: Freepik

LatinAmerican Post | Juliana Suárez

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Leer en español: Incrementa la amenaza del coronavirus

The outbreak of Coronavirus has been spreading rapidly for two months, which has led the World Health Organization to declare a global health emergency.

In addition to its spread, which has already reached 28 countries, the organization is in alert due to its high fatality rate, which they have determined is between 2% and 4% in Wuhan and 0.7% in other places. This amount exceeds the rate of the previous epidemic, SARS, which was similar in nature. Researchers and experts have stated that one of the reasons for the high spread of Coronavirus is the human to human transmission.

In the last update, there were 77,362 cases in China, including 2618 deaths. With these numbers, the amount of people affected in this country is much higher than the others, but recently the number of patients outside the Asian giant has increased, which means that the state of global alertness is essential.

Countries such as Italy, Iran and the Republic of Korea are especially alert due to the increase in cases that have been seen in recent days. In total, outside of China, there are 1400 cases, with South Korea being the country with the most infections. With 4 deaths in Korea, 8 confirmed deaths - but others under review - in Iran and 6 in Italy, these countries have taken special measures.

In its report on Monday, WHO stated that the threat of the virus may become pandemic, but that for now, it is not the right term to use when refering to Coronavirus.

The quarantine plan of Italy

The increase in cases in the European country is one of the highest of the 28 affected. After 224 people were infected with the virus, according to the last update on Monday, Italy began sending alerts and avoiding activities that could allow the spread, so schools stopped their programming.

The alert state reached its peak when on Monday the sixth death occurred within the country, taking into account, in addition, that of those six, three were on Monday. This number makes Italy the country with the most cases in Europe.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte reported on the extraordinary measures that begin in the country to prevent the spread. Among them, the cessation of school, sports and recreational activities; and quarantine in some of the regions with more registered cases.

The regions of Lombardy and Veneto have more than 50,000 people in quarantine, these being the places in Italy where more cases have occurred - Lombardy with more than 150 -, and the authorities seek to prevent further expansion in the other regions, although there are already cases outside these two.

Also read: Chinophobia' spreads as fast as the coronavirus does

Among the canceled events are some matches of the Serie A and the traditional Venice Carnival, as places with large crowds represent a risk for contagion. The Carnival, which had already begun and was due to end on February 25, decided to end earlier and many events of Milan Fashion Week restricted income and were held behind closed doors.

The stock market crash

Wall Street and the European stock market have been highly affected by the spread of the virus, starting the week with a 2.5% drop on average. The high spread in dozens of countries causes confidence in the world economy to fade and 'preventive measures' affecting the stock market are taken. The markets of Asia, Europe and America have had the same downward trend for this week.

Trade in Asia has been highly affected and this is reflected in world stock markets. Although the Chinese authorities have not officially blocked the trade routes, sectors such as automotive, textiles and, especially, tourism cannot perform their duties normally.

Read also: Wall Street investors react to climate change

Taking into account that China is one of the largest trading powers worldwide, it was inevitable that the trend was going down and thanks to the virus's rapid spread it is expected to continue to decline. According to ABC, “Dow Jones, the main index of the American Stock Exchange, has started the day losing almost 800 points and loses 2.77%. Its negative opening has only dragged the world markets further down”.Similarly, the increase in cases in South Korea has affected large companies such as Samsung.

In many countries in Europe, this week the stock market has dropped the most points since Brexit in 2016.

Back to Colombia

Some countries have taken measures to try to avoid the arrival of potentially affected people. For this reason, many have closed the entry to foreigners when they come from places with detected cases and airlines have refrained from boarding passengers from China.

But in other cases, the authorities are also looking for their citizens who are in countries like China to arrive before they are in more danger. Such is the case of Colombia, who several days ago had alerted the presence of a group of Colombians in Wuhan, a city where the first case of the outbreak occurred.

To do this, on Saturday a plane with the mission of bringing 13 citizens to the country, along with three foreigners, family to some of them, departed from the military airbase in Bogotá. The 'Homecoming' mission arrived Sunday in Seoul, South Korea, after 30 hours of travel and a stop in Alaska. Today, Tuesday, February 25, the plane will arrive in Wuhan to repatriate the Colombians and before boarding, they will be subjected to sanitary controls. Upon arrival in Colombia, the group will undergo a preventive quarantine.

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