How Covid-19 has disrupted the international economy

Thursday March 26 2020

 

By Karoli Ssemogerere

After calling the coronavirus a Chinese virus riling the Chinese, the Americans have looked the other way. The Chinese have started a massive PR campaign to donate relief and supplies to WHO and the poorer African countries to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus.

The Chinese mission left supplies and a cash donation of $100,000 in Juba and $20m to the WHO headquarters in Geneva.

While Mr Trump continues with describing the virus as “Chinese,” any new equipment to beef up ICU beds, purchase ventilators necessary for resting crucial respiratory functions must still be made in China.

There are a lot of stories trying to explain why Wuhan in central China ended up being the epicentre of the first attack. Apparently, the Chinese tried to manage the problem, but were unsuccessful.

The country went into lockdown and counted many victims, but by the time the virus had left on the early flights attacking Europe, America and eventually Africa.

The global economy has hubs mostly commercial centres like Dubai, which rely on daily trade of consumer goods rather than durable and industrial goods. People in East Africa get automotive spare parts from Dubai. In fact, the first Ugandan diagnosed with the virus was buying phone accessories, which had run out. Certain gaps in our creaky infrastructure made this happen.
This was one catastrophe where people had to stay in place rather than starting to travel halfway around the world going home, but this intervention only made the problem worse.

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In its outbreak, the virus has exposed so many gaps. First, is the realisation that the public health system may never be prepared for something of this magnitude. Certain countries like Russia and Cuba have weighed in much later. They appear to have more personnel, which in the scheme of things, is more important to direct at the local problem before sending it abroad.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said this is really serious after inspecting a treatment centre outside Moscow. The Cubans have sent doctors to Italy as the doctors there are labouring under exhaustion and 24-hour restrictions on movement are just starting to stem the rise of new infections.

The UK is opening a 4,000-bed treatment centre in East London, but hasn’t stated what specialist care will be available. Triage has dictated that the National Health Service will delay or suspend certain services to the chronically ill such as patients being treated for cancer.

Scientists must help us understand several big questions. The predecessor viruses on a global scale had a much higher fatality per infection. In fact, infection was in nearly all cases, a death sentence.

This applies to Ebola, SARS. Corona has the same lethal results, but patients have good chances for recovery notwithstanding the lethality exposed in older patients.

The science world has been quiet on common medicine cupboard treatments people should keep at home as they wait for help. The virus network in Uganda alone is a cause of wonder. People making a decision to cross through Uganda on their way to the DRC evading authorities, who would be able to treat them.

They were able to reach the Zombo/Paidha crossing where they were detected. This level of coverage is a major concern as it is only going to multiply new infections.

There are a number of mini-communities in the health sub-sector, like Virus Research and Institute of Public Health, which can share at an acceptable level findings to the public.
There are a number of sectors people should look at for symptoms of recovery. Hopefully, most employees who have been furloughed are able to go to work. Europe has been hardest hit after China, which may be functioning normally soon.

Cut flowers, commodities and tourism will all have impact on our region from a collapse in revenue. The US will report the same for aviation and automotives, which had recovered from the great recession.

Mr Ssemogerere is an Attorney-at-Law and an Advocate.
kssemoge@gmail.com