COVID-19: Countering the Economic Contagion
Preventive steps to prevent infection may produce an economic crisis that risks exacerbating poverty, hunger, and health issues.
At the rate it is spreading across the world, COVID-19 has become a global nightmare. Since China informed the World Health Organization (WHO) of a cluster of 41 patients with mysterious pneumonia on December 31, 2019, the world has seen COVID-19 cases balloon to 334,981 across 189 countries and territories, with 14,652 deaths, at the time of writing. In the Philippines, from the first case confirmed on January 30, 2020 (a 38-year-old Chinese national), COVID-19 cases have since shot up to 462 confirmed cases, with 33 deaths. Based on big data analysis, there is evidence of undertesting and under-reporting in the Philippines, raising concerns that undetected cases could number in the thousands.
COVID-19 produces two waves of contagion. The first is a disease-based contagion that can swamp domestic healthcare and social protection systems, as well as cripple workers and factories through adverse health outcomes. The second type of contagion refers to the “chilling effect” of COVID-19 on both the economic demand and supply sides of a growing number of countries, notably those in “factory Asia.” Adequate and coherent policy responses on both fronts will be necessary to prevent this health crisis from turning into an even bigger economic crisis.
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