By Dickson Igwe, Contributor
The coronavirus appeared at a very volatile moment in world history. In a new post the great financial recession of 2008 world, ruled by authoritarian types in Russia, China, India, Brazil, and even the supposedly freedom-loving USA, rising intolerance and racism, and a retreating global liberal democratic order, the politics of the Corona Virus, threatens massive economic, social, and political disruption.
The world could be a very different place politically after Corona. And Corona will require the cooperation of regions and countries at all levels of society, in order to beat what threatens to become a horrible pandemic.
That global cohesion is missing today, as the west diverges, with the USA, and a ‘wobbly’ European Union, increasingly going separate ways and looking inwards, and running on separate paths. And the thing about the Corona Virus is that it seemingly appeared out of nowhere.
Talk of the virus emanating from bats, and entering the human food chain in China – where bat soup is a delicacy – appears to be the present explanation for an illness that has infected thousands, killed hundreds, and is spreading rapidly across the globe from East Asia.
On February 27, 2020, a suspected case of coronavirus was observed in the British Virgin Islands of a traveler who had been to China. Thankfully that was not “the real deal”.
Panic and mayhem
But the incident showed just how easily the coronavirus matter can spread panic and mayhem. Part of the reason this virus appears to have “exploded” on the scene is that there were efforts by China to understate the threat of the virus to people, at the very beginning. This is a feature of authoritarian rule: The need for cover up to protect the myth of the invincibility of the regime.
However, this virus has no respect for dictators and cover-ups. Tragically, the despot in North Korea revealed the cold-blooded nature of his regime by executing the first North Korean Coronavirus victim. President Donald Trump appears to be following the Chinese script. The US leader is on the defensive in placing the Corona Virus on a back burner. Trump believes that understating the hugely negative impact of the Coronavirus is politically expedient. This approach – like what happened in China – could also backfire.
In China, key medical officers have been infected, and some have died. Iran’s vice president has contracted the virus. Even the Pope started to cough and splutter very suspiciously last Wednesday.
In the USA President Donald Trump appears to have been caught flat-footed. He has appointed his Vice President Mike Pence – a man who allegedly does not believe in science – as the virus Tsar.
Trump has done this after cutting funds and resources over his first term as President, to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention- the CDC.
But a US President who is betting on an economy that is ‘’good to great’’ for his reelection, cannot ignore the fact that the Corona Virus has tanked US stocks.
US stocks fall
The DOW opened down more than 500 points on Thursday and 2500 points on the week. US stocks have fallen into a correction that is the worst fall in stock prices since the financial crisis of 2008. As of Friday, the 28th of February, $5 trillion has been wiped off US stocks.
The world’s stock and commodity markets have also taken a hit, and Corona may unleash a global recession as bad as the 2008 recession. What is even more ludicrous is that Trump’s angry base see a “coronavirus conspiracy” driven by Trump’s enemies to take him down.
Hit against Caribbean tourism
In any event the world is waking up to the threat of this virus. Here in the Caribbean governments have been banning cruise ships from docking that are suspected of harbouring the coronavirus.
This is a further pointer to a hit against Caribbean tourism. The cruise industry is a critical component of the Caribbean tourism industry. Elsewhere, cargo ships from Asia have been stopped from entering a number of western ports.
In Japan and elsewhere schools have been closed. In a highly interconnected world, the coronavirus is a joker in the global pack of cards that has the power to unleash economic and social mayhem, as never seen before.
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