In this age of sophisticated healthcare systems and advanced technologies, it is not uncommon to underestimate the risk of public health incidents to business, even in mature economies. The 2019/2020 Wuhan coronavirus, however, proves a clarion example of the systemic risk public health still poses, most especially to businesses with complex supply chains that reach into emerging and developing markets.
As of late January 2020, 10,000 cases of the novel coronavirus have been reported in mainland China, with 213 fatalities. The reach of the coronavirus is global, though. Over 140 cases have been confirmed outside of mainland China, including rare cases of person-to-person transmission in the U.S.
Indeed, the global spread of the novel coronavirus has spurred the World Health Organization (WHO) to issue a declaration of a public health emergency of international concern. The crux of the declaration, according to WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus: “the potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems, and which are ill-prepared to deal with it.”
In turn, individual countries are taking extraordinary precautions to stem the spread of the novel virus. China has issued full or partial population lockdowns that cover nearly 60 million people. The U.S. State Department has elevated its travel advisory to “do not travel” to China. Singapore has banned arrivals from mainland China. The list goes on.
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