The U.S. stock market plunged 600 points today (as of the time I’m writing this), capping off a turbulent week. The uncertainty, fear and near-hysteria created by the coronavirus is roiling global stock markets and inducing near-panic in China. The stock market lost all of its gains for 2020 and is now in the negative territory.
The news emanating from mainland China keeps getting darker and more frightening. Major airlines, including Delta and American Airlines, cancelled all flights between the U.S. and China. American corporations are closing their operations in China, telling employees not to come into work and banning travel to and from the region.
The Chinese government has enacted severe measures, including quarantining millions of citizens, setting up roadblocks and literally locking people in their homes who are suspected of having the virus. The streets of Wuhan—the epicenter of the outbreak—is eerily deserted. In some cities, the hospitals are overrun with throngs of people that are afraid they may have the disease. Doctors and nurses are overwhelmed to keep up. Some have caught the virus themselves.
The pictures and videos released by residents of Wuhan and other nearby cities depict a dystopian, apocalyptic, surreal landscape. Medical professionals wearing hazmat suits that make them look like StormTroopers in a bad Star Wars movie with plastic-gun-looking devices on people (to presumably gauge their temperature and vital signs). The hospitals have crowds of frightened people lining up to seek help. In places that permit travel, the roads and highways are clogged.
The most disturbing visuals are those that show “wet markets” where it’s believed to be the source of the virus. The graphic videos and pictures show all sorts of animals sold for consumption, including bats, dogs, cats, rodents, snakes and exotic animals. Many of the animals are still alive and in cages waiting to be slaughtered. There are reports that some of the animals are eaten while they are still alive.
— ISCResearch (@ISCResearch) January 30, 2020
Heartbreaking video circulating online: in Wuhan dialect, a man demands the hospital take responsibility and not turn away patients. His relative is dying and there’re no beds or oxygen tanks. Exhausted nurses beg for understanding about shortage of resources. #WuhanCoronavirus pic.twitter.com/f0XDKKn5iu
— Xinyan Yu (@xinyanyu) January 26, 2020
Two videos show all floors of a residential building in Jiangsu-China were blocked by welding fence because a confirmed case found in it. #2019nCoV #WuhanCoronavirus #WuhanVirus pic.twitter.com/C5i4UMltjl
— 𝓟𝓪𝓬𝓸 🇸🇬 (@PacoHk) January 29, 2020
— David Vance (@DVATW) January 29, 2020
The mass media is building up this outbreak into a frenzy. Although the situation is serious, to put things into perspective, the U.S. CDC cites that thousands of Americans die each year due to the flu. Hundreds of thousands of Americans seek medical attention or require hospitalization for influenza. Hopefully, this will turn out to be a bad strain and medical professionals will find a cure before it gets worse.
The stock market was due for a correction, so it’s not surprising to see some large declines due to all the uncertainty and international business interruptions due to the coronavirus. Despite what the press reports, we are resourceful and smart and will soon figure out how to stop or—at least—slow down this spreading outbreak.