As many readers already know, the coronavirus, or COVID-19, originated in Wuhan, a large city of around 10 million in Hubei province, China. Since then, it has spread to 81 countries. In total, it has infected over 90,000 people, resulting in the deaths of approximately 3,000.
For live updates on the spread of this new virus, Worldometer has created a helpful tool that tracks total cases across the world. You can find it here.
As of today, a large majority of the active cases of COVID-19 remain in China. The countries most affected after China are South Korea, Iran, and Italy. In Africa, the virus has affected less than 10 people so far.
Unfortunately, the fear of coronavirus is having a larger effect than the virus itself. Last week, the government allowed a flight carrying 239 passengers from China to land at JKIA prompting uproar on social media.
The close links and shared development goals between China and Kenya means that travel between the two countries is quite frequent. In January, Kenya Airways reluctantly suspended flights to and from Guangzhou after mounting pressure from unions and other Kenyan organisations.
The fear and uncertainty over coronavirus is inevitably going to have huge consequences for business. Kenya Airways, for example, has suspended one of its most lucrative flight paths due to the fear surrounding COVID-19. As the outbreak continues, there could be even more consequences for the global economy.
How COVID-19 affects Business
Dr. Ouma Oluga, who heads the Kenyan Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union, recently explained why closing borders and banning flights to and from a specific country is counter-productive. He said that banning travel incentivises countries to lie about how many cases of the virus exist so as not to suffer from economic repercussions.
Indeed, whilst banning flights from China may seem like a good idea, the virus can just as easily spread from any other affected country. Now is not the time to be closing borders with global partners, it is a time for cooperation and transparency.
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has reported that the global economy will grow at its slowest rate since 2009. During the last week of February, major stock markets experienced their worst performance since the stock market crash in 2008.
But how specifically could the virus affect business in Kenya?
One of the first issues that will rear its head will be the presence of Chinese workers in Kenya. With travel restrictions between the two countries taking place, ongoing projects supervised by Chinese officials may grind to a halt. Many Kenyans may lose valuable employment opportunities as a consequence.
Secondly, should the virus reach Kenya, instances of self-quarantine as well as fear over infection will rise. This will lead to an economic downturn in many Kenyan industries. For archiving businesses, this could prove to be a difficult time.
The archiving industry thrives on growth and development. Whilst the growth of the Kenyan economy is likely to remain quite high, the impact of COVID-19 is hard to predict. In some countries, it is predicted that one-fifth of the workforce could be off sick at the same time.
Fortunately, there is hope for many African countries. As of yet, the virus has thrived in colder areas with low humidity. In Kenya particularly, humid temperatures in the coastal regions and the dry heat of the up-country areas may be hostile to the virus.
As of yet, Kenya is coronavirus free, but the trend suggests that this may not last long. The interconnected economies of the world means the virus is very difficult to contain. Our advice here at The Filing Room is to wash your hands regularly, stay vigilant and, most importantly, don’t panic.