The COVID-19 disease was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, China, and became a Public Health Emergency of International Concern in January 2020. On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization came to recognize it as a pandemic. Since its breakout, even scientists have failed to curtail its spread. The year 2020 has indeed been a year of human and economic losses all around the world!
The COVID-19 pandemic has spread with alarming speed, infecting millions all around the world. This has brought economic activity to a near-standstill as countries imposed tight restrictions on movement to halt the spread of the virus. As the health and human toll grows, the economic damage is already evident. This represents the largest economic shock the world has experienced in decades.
Effects on Humans
According to Wikipedia, more than 33.1 million cases have been reported worldwide as at 28 September 2020. It also reports that more than 998,000 deaths have been recorded. The pandemic has caused global social and economic disruption, including the largest global recession since the Great Depression. According to estimations, up to 100 million people have fallen into extreme poverty and global famines are affecting 130 million people. It has led to the postponement or cancellation of sporting, religious, political, and cultural events.
Widespread supply shortages exacerbated by panic buying are reported too. Educational institutions have been partially or fully closed, with many switching to online schooling. Misinformation about the virus has circulated through social media and mass media. There have been many incidents of xenophobia and racism against Chinese people. Also, those perceived as being Chinese or as being from areas with high infection rates have been targeted.
According to the ACDC COVID-19 Situation Report of 27 September, the total number of COVID-19 cases reported in Sub-Saharan Africa is over 1,460,000. More than 35,000 persons have also lost their lives from it. (There are concerns about the accuracy of those figures as medical infrastructure for testing and diagnoses is not widely available across the region.) This has been really been a year of human and economic losses.
Economic Effects of COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has had far-reaching consequences beyond the spread of the disease itself and efforts to quarantine it. The pandemic caused the largest global recession in history. More than a third of the global population at the time were placed on lockdown. The pandemic is expected to plunge most countries into recession in 2020. Per capita income is expected to contract in the largest fraction of countries globally since 1870.
Global stock markets fell on 24 February 2020 due to a significant rise in the number of COVID-19 cases outside mainland China. By 28 February 2020, stock markets worldwide saw their largest single-week declines since the 2008 financial crisis. Global stock markets crashed in March 2020, with falls of several percent in the world’s major indices.
The pandemic and efforts to contain it have triggered an unprecedented collapse in oil demand and a crash in oil prices. Demand for metals and transport-related commodities such as rubber and platinum used for vehicle parts has also tumbled. Trade restrictions and supply chain disruptions could yet raise food security issues in some places.
In Africa, the focus has been on a mix of monetary and fiscal measures to solve the need for assistance. This aids were aimed at companies and households that have been impacted the most by COVID-19 containment measures. According to the estimations of the World Bank, the pandemic will cost Africa between USD 37 billion and USD 79 billion in output losses for 2020.
In the USA, the Department of Labor reported on September 23 that nearly 1.2 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits for the week ending August 1. Additionally, 655,707 Americans filed for claims under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. Last week’s claims represent 20 consecutive weeks of over 1 million people filing for benefits. This shows an alarmingly high amount of people—about 30 million—collecting unemployment funds.
Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, roughly 55 million Americans have filed for unemployment. This staggering number eclipses the 37 million claimants during the financial crisis. There’s a palpable fear that many of the jobs lost won’t be temporary, but rather permanent losses.
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This has been really been a year of human and economic losses for everyone. The crisis highlights the need for urgent action to cushion the pandemic’s health and economic consequences. There is also the need to protect vulnerable populations, and set the stage for a lasting recovery.
According to the World Bank, it is critical for emerging markets and developing countries to strengthen public health systems. They also need to address the challenges posed by informality, and implement reforms that will support strong and sustainable growth once the health crisis abates.
Policies to rebuild both in the short and long-term entail strengthening health services and putting in place targeted stimulus measures to help reignite growth. This should include the support for the private sector and getting money directly to people. During the mitigation period, countries should focus on sustaining economic activity with support for households, firms and essential services.
No matter what efforts human governments may put in to cushion the effects of the pandemic, the real solution to our problems will ONLY come fro God. Only at His own time will mankind be able to enjoy the real life. That time is near!