Contamination has become a two-way street when it comes to the coronavirus.
While earlier it was other parts of the world that feared travelers from China, as the number of new cases ease within the country and infection rates jump outside of it, some regions of Chhina are heightening quarantine and safety measures on foreign travelers to prevent a repatriation of the virus.
The coronavirus outbreak has killed more than 2,800 people and infected 82,000-plus people worldwide. The vast majority of them are in China, but this week the World Health Organization said that for the first time the virus was spreading faster outside China.
On Wednesday, it was announced that China’s capital would quarantine people for 14 days at home or in groups if they had been to countries seriously hit by the coronavirus, and a number of cities across eastern and northeastern China are taking similar steps.
Cluster outbreaks have been seen in South Korea, which added 505 new cases jumping to 1,766 on Thursday, marking the sharpest daily spike yet for the nation, and Italy, the worst-affected country in Europe, surged to 400 cases from 80 on Tuesday. South Korea went on the highest possible alert earlier this week with the country’s president Moon Jae-in empowering the government to lock down cities and take other sweeping measures to contain the outbreak, although no specific measures were announced. Italy has put a number of cities in Lombardy and Veneto on lockdown.
“With more cases reported in [South] Korea and Italy, the next risk is [not only] that China’s production delays that will affect the rest of the world but actually Korean production disruptions and also some European production disruptions may occur,” said Wang Tao, chief China economist at UBS. “New risks are emerging affecting the global supply chain. I think the market in the last two, three days are reacting to that.”
“When it was China, people tend to think maybe it’s a little far from us,” Wang said. “People [were] not observing the disruption from China yet because usually the first two weeks after Chinese New Year there’s not much action happening anyway so people hadn’t noticed the disruption but now they are awakening to the fact that there will be delays from China but also new areas.”
A Fung Business Intelligence report similarly highlighted the global implications of the virus, pointing out that other nations may be less equipped to deal with a coronavirus outbreak.
“For a number of reasons, be it political or economic, these countries might not be able or willing to take containment measures as stringent as China, which could doom their efforts to contain the COVID,” the report said. “Thus, we have to prepare for the possibility that the COVID could spread to even more countries and ultimately become a global pandemic.”
“The COVID-19 is no longer a China issue or an Asian issue, but a global issue,” it added.
Jennifer Bisceglie, ceo of Interos, a third-party risk management platform, said companies should be interrogating the resiliency of their supply chain.
“It might not be an [epidemic] like the coronavirus, it could be a tsunami or an earthquake. There’s going to be something else,” she said.
“Brexit had a very similar situation,” said Bisceglie, observing that most firms were not sufficiently prepared. “There’s this concept of concentration risk that we deal with our customers a lot — that we over rely on a single part of the world.
“They have to go deeper than the companies they are buying from, they have to go deeper than their suppliers. From our perspective, it doesn’t matter that one of their suppliers is in Canada if they are sourcing from China.…There is a gap. What you can see is not the problem, it’s what you can’t see,” she added.