Amusement parks, sporting events, religious gatherings, reality TV shows, even schools. More and more of daily life in a growing swath of the world is being affected by the new coronavirus. And that’s messing with global financial markets as basic business, trade and tourism suffers from the disruptions.
Here are some of the latest developments:
THE DANGERS OF AMUSEMENT
While parts of China had already banned fun events, the virus is now cancelling gatherings around the world as it spreads. Disney closed its parks in Tokyo for two weeks. K-pop superstars BTS called off an upcoming concert series in Seoul. CBS is suspending production of “The Amazing Race.” Formula One teams are worried about being able to travel to races with the season set to start in two weeks. And the Swiss government is banning any event with more than 1,000 people — including the Geneva International Motor Show, one of the car industry’s showcase events.
IS AFRICA NEXT?
The virus has now officially reached sub-Saharan Africa after Nigeria reported its first case. The patient is an Italian traveller who recently arrived in Lagos, Africa’s largest city — home to 20 million people. Isolated cases of the virus were confirmed in Egypt and Algeria in north Africa, but there is growing concern that cases around Africa are going unreported. Health officials had worried the virus could hit countries with weak health systems, and that’s increasingly what’s happening, from Africa to Afghanistan and beyond.
AS MARKETS FALL, ARE JOBS NEXT?
Down, down, down. Financial markets around the world kept dropping and Wall Street suffered its worst week since the financial crisis in 2008. Companies say factory shutdowns in China are disrupting supply chains.
In the U.S., officials reported the first drug shortage tied to the outbreak but stressed that alternative medicines are available. British Airways warned of a hit to its profit as people put off or postpone trips.
Philippine Airlines is laying off 300 ground personnel as part of an ongoing restructuring that was aggravated by travel restrictions caused by the virus. Some airlines in Europe cancelled flights due to reduced demand.
U.S. President Donald Trump has been in touch with CEOs amid worries economic impacts could weigh on the election campaign.
The panic-driven shopping that cleared shelves in Asia last month has made it to Europe. Online supermarket Kosik.cz has had to limit the size of its deliveries in the Czech Republic, which hasn’t reported a single case of the virus.
Suppliers can’t keep up with the spike in demand, which is even higher than during the Christmas shopping season. Kosik.cz is now imposing a 50-kilogram (110-pound) limit per delivery, saying that’s plenty for a single household.
Good luck trying to find a mask. Demand has exploded — even though experts say most people don’t need to cover their faces. Compounding the shortage, supplies are also down because as many as a half of surgical masks are made in China.
As false rumours ignite social networks, shoppers around Asia have emptied store shelves of toilet paper and napkins in the belief they could be used as improvised masks.
At a fashion show in Paris, one designer even sent models down the runway wearing masks that match their clothes.
Cruise lines are trying to reassure nervous passengers, even as some of their ships are being turned away from ports over virus fears. Travel advisers say they weren’t seeing many cancellations yet. But some travelers are spooked by a quarantined ship in Japan earlier this month, where more than 700 on board ended up infected with the virus. There’s also the possibility ships could be turned away and forced to find another place to dock. “What if something happens and my kids are without us for three weeks?” said Chris Ciciora, an accountant from Chicago who canceled a cruise he was scheduled to take with his wife.
While the virus has hit China the hardest, it’s now spreading in all kinds of ways. South Korea’s daily virus toll is now higher than China’s.
Iran now has more deaths than anywhere outside China. Italy’s number of virus cases jumped to more than 800. From California to France and beyond, officials are stepping up preparations as more cases appear with no obvious source.
Governments are expanding travel warnings. In the U.S., schools are cancelling trips abroad and preparing online lessons to brace for the possibility that the virus could start spreading in their communities.