New Virus Covid-19
Jul 01, 2020
The SARS-CoV-2 virus originated in Wuhan city in the Hubei province of China. The Chinese authorities first officially reported its presence to the World Health Organization (WHO) on 31 December 2019, however, it almost certainly started spreading there much before that, possibly sometime early December 2019. Since then, it has spread to almost every country on earth taking lives, shutting down economies, and creating worldwide havoc and panic of the proportions perhaps not seen since World War II, with no signs yet of slowing down. Experts opine that, even if the virus-spread subsides in summer, it is almost certain that the virus will re-surface in the winter, perhaps becoming even more virulent than it already is. Although three have been reports of multiple breakthroughs with regards to COVID-19 vaccine development, with encouraging news coming from Oxford University (UK), Israel, USA and Italy, even the most optimistic estimates suggest that a working vaccine might get available to general public only by late 2020/early 2021 (which would be nothing short of a medical marvel given the timelines involved in vaccine development). Expectedly, people the world over are a worried lot.
Government-imposed lockdowns to check the virus-spread and/or people voluntarily staying at homes have completely pummelled major job providing industries including hospitality, transport (air, sea, rail and road) and pretty much the entire MSME sector. In many countries, the MSME sector is a major job provider for a significant population base. In India for instance, MSME provides jobs to about 110 million people and contributes to roughly 30% to India’s GDP. The COVID-19 situation has unfortunately played havoc with their wafer-thin bottom lines bringing many of them on the verge of serious financial difficulties, even bankruptcy. The extended country-wide lockdown in India, although extremely successful in flattening the COVID-19 curve, has taken away the livelihoods of a large segment of the population. This phenomenon is not limited to a developing country like India though. In USA, for example, a mind-numbing 30 million people have filed for unemployment insurance during this pandemic. There is a similar story panning out in other continents. More than the virus itself, it is the fear of the virus which is creating several major issues. The excess mortality rate in many European countries, even after accounting for Covid-19 related deaths, has been reported on the higher side. People are delaying visiting hospitals for fear of catching the virus, leading to other non-virus-related complications.