- March 31, 2020
- Posted by: Yomi Olusunle
- Category: Wede
Starting at 3 cases, now recording over 135 cases with 2 deaths in less than 3 months, the coronavirus is hitting Nigeria hard and spreading on a steady upward trajectory. With 2 deaths now and over 100 recorded cases, Nigeria has joined other nations in the battle against the coronavirus, with lockdowns in Abuja, Lagos and Ogun state.
Beyond the infectious nature of the virus, and the sickness illness associated with it, the coronavirus has had and is having a grave impact on the world’s economy and Nigeria is a part of the world’s economy.
Schools have shut down in many countries, flights are being banned, borders are closing, businesses are closing, shares are dropping, people, workers, families are being quarantined. Beyond the risk of being quarantined and/or getting infected, the world’s economy is going on a downward spiral. The virus has been named a pandemic- a disease that spreads across the whole world.
Global Impact of Coronavirus
Earlier in the year, the business risk of the coronavirus was focused on delayed shipments from China, which is one of the world’s biggest manufacturers and distributors. China is where the virus first hit, killing numerous people. Now, the effects of the pandemic have spread beyond its borders and into all continents across the world. Let’s look at the core areas of the economy affected by the coronavirus.
Hospitality, Transportation, and Tourism: Airlines, taxi services, ports, hotels, airports, and restaurants are already downsizing. The impact of the virus on these businesses trickle down to others, farmers no longer have places to supply their stock to, most of which are perishable. With flight bans, airport worker have little or no work to do, airlines reduce the number of flights meaning less cabin crew. The items in duty-free sit on shelves with no one to buy them. This means fewer people need to stay in hotels also means fewer people taking cabs. With the lockdown, public transport systems are taking a major hit, trains, boats, regular cabs even Ubers, Lyfts or Bolts, etc. Linens used at hotels, restaurants, airlines no longer need the laundry services to get them cleaned this means downsizing. Oil prices have dropped as there is less need for transportation. This simply means a chain reaction affecting many jobs.
Sales and Marketing: From bottles of water to houses and property, sales and marketing have taken a grave hit. While there is a high demand of household supplies almost worldwide, supply is relatively slow as a large percentage of the production firms have asked people to stay home to curb the spread of the virus. People are also beginning to impose rations in their homes spend less and hoard cash to save for days to come which we cannot predict as the virus has only spread wider in the past few months. With many people working from home there are fewer people in the streets randomly buying things that they really don’t need outside of their home. To reduce the spread of the virus a lot of shops and business have had to close or reduce the hours they are open for, meaning less workers are needed, or workers have to work for lesser hours, hence, less pay
Education: Most schools have closed down disrupting the education of students. These schools have been closed indefinitely and students don’t know when or if they would be resuming any time soon. This has distorted the education system; this implies longer semesters in the future and sessions ending later than anticipated. This also impacts the transport, restaurants and hospitality businesses and this has not only led to a reduction in rent or down payments on houses and cars, but some students have also had to return home meaning empty houses.
Entertainment: for the first time there are now closed football games global conferences for fashion, technology, finance, symposiums, meetings, birthdays, burials, trainings, have been canceled. Broadway in the United States has been described as a shadow town. Ghana has decided that no more than 25 people can come together for any events and religious activities have been suspended.
Finance: By February 28,2020 stock markets worldwide saw their largest single-week declines since the 2008 financial crisis. With the low turnover in all these sectors, nobody is saving any money at the banks, nobody is selling or buying shares, nobody is investing. The financial sector is simply crawling, losing more money as more people are taking their cash and even requesting for the loans. There are barely any banks giving loans as the impact of this pandemic is sending the world’s economy into a “global recession”
Health sector: The health sector somehow has managed to be one of the biggest losers, requiring more hands to care for the sick, facing the biggest risk of getting infected. With the economy in the dumps and most of the resources being channeled to finding a cure, there is more work for the same amount of money at a job that poses more risk. With more people falling sick daily and no solution in sight.
The labor market has taken a major hit and a large number of people are now either jobless, working from home or working fewer hours. For most of these sectors, it is not that things are slowing down, things are coming to a complete standstill because of how easily the virus is being contacted. The virus has no consideration for age, social class, gender, race or tribe, this is a global situation.
The economy depends on all the above-listed areas to function. People need to work, and this work translates to money, this money translates to the success of the economy of countries and the world. No country is self-sufficient, the world depends on the synergy of all countries working together to survive. Now, with flight bans and border closures, commodities are becoming scarce and people are advised to stay home and isolate themselves. The effect this is having on the economy, we are beginning to stock our homes, this entails spending money, yet, working hours are being cut down, there have been job cuts. This means not only are we spending money, we are either at an equilibrium or losing money but there is hardly anybody making a profit (except of course those who have doubled the prices of sanitizers and soaps). Oil prices have taken a major hit and since oil comprises a large part of the economy all nations are hit by this pandemic.
This is in no way to underplay the effects of getting infected by the virus, rather it’s to highlight other areas the virus has grossly impacted and severity of the virus on a wholistic scale.
Initially many offices remained open, restaurants were still operational, businesses and shops stayed open.
Our economy first took a major hit with the fall in oil prices with a major part of our country’s economy funded by money derived from oil, coupled with the economy in recession or recovering from the recession the effects seemed dire. The grave drop in oil prices due to reduced demand worldwide, our leaders were locked in meetings daily brainstorming on how our economy could sustain this hit, finally resolving to drop the price of petrol to N125. The dollar which had stayed strongly rooted between N358 and N362 went up to N430, then down to N390 and is now a scarce commodity in the country. International flights are now being ban, local flights have records of fewer passengers and fewer flights daily as other countries have also issued bans. Our international investors are in countries that have restricted movements or flight bans or countries that have been hit harder than we have. Very few people want to travel, most of the products that are made in China are no longer being produced or being bought or being shipped. This means that a shortage of materials will soon be upon us. Hospitality businesses with internationals as its major consumers must already be experiencing lower profits. The aviation industry is already experiencing a major hit. Imports and exports are significantly lower.
This situation took a downward spiral when the case neared the hundreds, the government had to take drastic measures, locking down Lagos, Abuja, and Ogun. In other states, life remains seemingly the same people just seem to be observing a bit of social distancing with fewer handshakes and more hand washing. But in places where the virus has hit hard, the economic impact has hit harder.
With over 13 cases recorded, the virus is starting to spread and with the virus originating in Nigeria from Lagos the most populated city in the country and the financial hub of the country, Lagos has recorded the highest number of cases. Cases have also been recorded in Oyo, Abuja, Bauchi, Rivers, Ogun, Osun, Ekiti, Enugu, Edo other states are yet to be confirmed
What to do?
We cannot put a figure to the loss this pandemic has caused, but it is clear that the world has not experienced such a great loss resulting from a global pandemic in such a short period, and with no clear solution in sight.
“This is a serious natural disaster — I don’t think a lot of people are thinking about it that way just because there are no winds and there are no floods,” he said. “But this is a real natural disaster that’s affecting people at the most basic level.” Tom Douglas, Restaurant owner in Seattle, USA
It is important for every one of us to do our part in ensuring this virus does not spread further. If you don’t need to go out, stay at home. However, if you must go out, here are a few tips:
- Wash your hands as often as possible or sanitise them with an alcohol-based sanitiser
- Avoid touching your face.
- Waving is in again, practice social distancing
- Stand at least 1 meter or 6ft away from infected people or anyone you are interacting with- the virus is spread when liquids from the mouth or nose of an infected person is ingested. These liquids typically can’t travel more than 1 meter.
- Avoid touching surfaces in public places- researchers are yet to find out how long the virus can stay alive on surfaces, however, the current estimated time is 9- 14hours, depending on the type of surface
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you sneeze or cough. Dispose of these tissues in closed bins. Alternatively, sneeze or cough into your elbow.
- Wipe surfaces at home and in public regularly with disinfectants.
- Wash your hands after caring for those with the COVID-19 coronavirus.
- Constantly check on those with the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Hopefully, a solution is found soon, and we can all move past this terrible pandemic. At a time like this, it is important for the world leaders to come together and find a solution to this pandemic and for all of us as citizens to care for each other and play our part in reducing the spread of the pandemic. We beat SARS, Ebola and are fighting HIV-AIDS, we can beat this too. Remember, this too shall pass.