Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Coronavirus Outbreak Could Reduce China’s GDP by 1-2 Percent

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Commentary

The short term economic impact from the rapidly spreading coronavirus that has infected nearly 600 and killed 18 could reduce China’s GDP by 1-2 percent, if it is similar to the 2003 SARS outbreak.

The World Health Organization called an Emergency Committee Meeting for Jan. 23 to address the potential pandemic risks associated with novel coronavirus, designated “2019-nCoV,” that through its fourth generation mutation can now spread via person-to-person transmission among close contacts such as in families or in health care settings.

Some coronaviruses don’t infect humans, others do but cause only minor illness, and some can cause severe illness in a high proportion of those infected. The coronavirus responsible for China’s 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) sickened more than 8,000 people globally, and killed about 800.

The 2019-nCoV strain is believed to have originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, but has officially been reported as spreading to Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Vietnam, Canada, and the United States. But the contagion has probably been exported by thousands of travelers to dozens of countries. China is trying to limit the damage to its economy by quarantining train and air travel into and out of Wuhan, a city of 11 million that is larger than New York City. Officials have also quarantined nearby Huanggang and Ezhou in Hubei Province.

International confidence in China’s ability to stabilize the coronavirus outbreak is being undermined by its credibility in disclosing public health threats in the past. After the 2003 SARS outbreak, independent reporting forced China to admit dishonesty in under-reporting the scale of infections and deaths to the World Health Organization. China later admitted 5,327 probable SARS cases and 343 deaths, ten times its initial reporting.

An economic analysis by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for International Development found that SARS had “significant negative impacts” to China’s economy. The tourism industry lost 50-60…

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