Covid-19 is thriving on globalisation

6 mins read

When officials tell you not to panic about the coronavirus outbreak the fear begins to start in your toes and work its up into a frenzy until every sniffle and cough is a potential prison sentence.

Cypriots like every other human being are irrational, even though Covid-19 hasn’t reached our shores it is quickly enveloping many other countries in Europe like throwing a cloak over a lampshade.

Health experts tell us to keep hygiene a priority, wash our hands frequently, avoid crowded places, keep the windows open and take walks in a field.

Despite knowing this virus, if contracted, only really seriously affects about 5% of those who get it does not make you feel like the odds are in your favour.

People are out there panic buying paper masks when science suggests they are that effective as the coronavirus microbes can get through — your better off keeping your distance.

This is playing out like some bad walking dead zombie horror where infection is inevitable and only your DNA can save the day.

There is a sense of trepidation that filters into everyday life, like knowing a strange mist will descend upon the landscape and take us hostage.

Maybe reading Stephen King novels is not the best way to sit out this monster outbreak that could become a pandemic without a vaccine to defend us.

They say the biggest enemy helping coronavirus is ignorance, panic and misinformation but if this turns nasty the implications are widespread.

Travel plans will have to be put on hold, mass gatherings will be out of the question, socialising becomes another risky venture, physical contact a no go.

Kids not going to school, cancelled sporting events and having to work from home will also become the new reality.

Cyprus is in the containment stage with no positive cases detected so far but with an outbreak in northern Italy and Greece also becoming an infected country, the question seems to be when not if the virus will spread here.

If people are wary, confused, hesitant and worried on an island that doesn’t have coronavirus, what about the places that do have it?

Fear has penetrated international markets over concerns that the global economy will suffer a shock to the system that will be hard to correct if the wheels come off.

China is producing and buying less as it tries to fight the virus on a nuclear scale, where a no-nonsense scorched earth policy is starting to bring the numbers down at the epicentre of Wuhan.

Outside China Covid-19 is rapidly spreading to countries that are less equipped to fight the virus full on or batten down the hatches on free movement.

Open borders

Moreover, the flu-like disease is fuelled by globalisation, open borders, frictionless trade and connectivity. Luxuries we all enjoy and crave.

The more mobile we have become while living in crowded urban cities allows such viruses to thrive, doing the exact opposite – living in isolation – may defeat it.

Nevertheless, a world without connectivity and free trade will affect livelihoods, jobs will be lost if people can’t work or mass events are cancelled.

The rapid spread of the coronavirus has increased fears of a pandemic with more countries reporting their first cases and the World Health Organization (WHO) raising its risk alert to “very high”.

World shares have gone through the floor, winding up their worst week since the 2008 global financial crisis wiping out $6 trillion.

Hopes this nightmare would stay in China and be over in months have been smashed – going back to normal will take a while longer.

Countries other than China now account for about three-quarters of new infections.

To make matters worse, a Chinese official said some recovered patients were infectious, suggesting the epidemic may be even harder to eradicate than first thought.

That’s a scary notion, but we have to stay calm, take precautions and hope warmer weather will stop this killer in its tracks, although like the flu it will return.

For most of us it’s never going to happen but having to face this medical emergency puts a new spin on globalization.

Maybe we are better off just going down the corner shop that sells local produce rather than basking in the delights of a supermarket with its worldly treasures.

Sitting on a deckchair in the back garden/balcony reading Stephen King rather than getting tanned in Seychelles may be the safest place to be.