Coronavirus Impacting Mental health, Global Economy and Markets
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We closed our eyes and within a blink of a second, we opened and suddenly the world changed. Suddenly social distancing has become our new norm. Disney land is out of magic, Paris is no longer romantic, Mecca and Italy are empty. No people moving around in towns. Hugs and Kisses suddenly became weapons and not visiting parents and friends become an act of love. Mindset changed from living to survival. There’s a feeling of hopeless and decreased job security, loneliness, and fear for loved one’s lives. Financial security is decreased and quarantine makes it more difficult to distract oneself from existing mental health issues.
- The new coronavirus, which first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan last December, has infected more than 110,000 people in at least 110 countries and territories globally, according to the World Health Organization.
- The virus outbreak has become one of the biggest threats to the global economy and financial markets.
- Major institutions and banks have cut their forecasts for the global economy, with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development being one of the latest to do so.
- Meanwhile, fears of the coronavirus impact on the global economy have rocked markets worldwide, with stock prices and bond yields plunging.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has advised against travel restrictions and also identified 13 top priority countries in Africa (Algeria, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Mauritius, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia), that are of higher risk due to their direct links and the high volume of travel to China.
Health systems in many African countries are already struggling with their existing workload and are likely not prepared to deal with another outbreak of highly infectious disease, so it is critical that African countries work hard to detect the virus very early.
“This disease, if it’s in Africa it’s more dramatic than if it’s in China, even though I’m not trying to minimize what’s going on in China in any way. If you look at Ebola, most of the excess deaths were caused because the health service shut down. It’s not just the direct effect, it’s also the panic, the overload, and the things that affect health workers because you’re already a very limited capacity,” Bill Gates said in a presentation at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Seattle in February.
The WHO is in the process of equipping 29 African laboratories with kits to ensure they have the capacity to deal with the virus and also assist other countries to test samples if needed. The organization also hopes that by the end of this month it would have sent kits to 36 African countries.
Nigeria’s Red Cross Society has placed about one million volunteers on high alert. The Society’s Secretary-General, Abubakar Ahmed Kende, said that this was to prevent the possibility of the virus spreading into the country and also contain the spiraling outbreak of Lassa fever across Nigeria.
In Tanzania, Health Minister, Ummy Mwalimu, has identified quarantine centers in the north, east, and west of the country. The country has also stockpiled thermometers and more than 2,000 health workers have been trained. A number of countries, including Kenya, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Ghana, and Botswana, have quarantined suspected cases. So far, all have tested negative for the virus.
Uganda’s Ministry of Health has reported that more than 100 people that arrived at the international airport of Entebbe were quarantined. Some were quarantined at two hospitals in Entebbe and Kampala, while others were told to stay in their homes.
African countries still have strong ties with China and Equatorial Guinea recently announced a solidarity contribution of $2 million to China over the coronavirus outbreak. The African Union has shown cooperation, support, and assistance to China in the ongoing fight against the COVID-19.