We seem to be in the middle of a mass hysteria event being fed by the world’s Press.
I am talking about the coronavirus epidemic.
Each day brings us more tales of doom and gloom about how many have it, how many have died and how many cases there are in the UK, the US, Germany etc.
Cruise ships are marooned at sea and China has become isolated from the rest of the world with anyone returning from there subjected to two weeks’ incarceration, oops I mean isolation. Is this strictly necessary?
Well there are two ways of looking at it. On the one hand it is not a particularly nasty virus and most people make a full recovery after a few days of mild coughing and fever. Yes it can kill the elderly, young and people with weak immune systems and so far it has killed more than 1,000 people.
To put it into perspective the common flu has in the same period killed between 15,000 and 25,000 people and we don’t seem to be making much of a fuss about that.
On the other hand it is a mutated virus and the steps being taken could be seen as a training exercise with lessons to be learned in case another more deadly one comes along.
Funny thing evolution, it can work against us as well.
It is China that is feeling the consequence of all this. It is effectively closed to the rest of the world with most countries now barring travel to and from. In fact the Chinese government has also barred outward travel.
Global business is beginning to feel the strain.
The biggest effect on global business is about to come. The ‘Just in Time’ supply train methodology relies on parts being delivered to a manufacturer just in time to be fitted, and so relieving the manufacturer of the need to keep an advance stock which saves on space and cost.
The downfall of this system is that when the supply chain is disrupted then a whole host of onward industry is stopped in its tracks.
Now most companies who rely on Chinese made parts did actually stockpile them for January and February as they do each year, because most Chinese factories close down for a month for Chinese New Year, but these stocks are running out now as deliveries were expected to resume by the end of February.
As the majority of Chinese factories have still not got back to full production because of the travel restrictions on their staff, then we are about to see major factory closures in the West very soon.
There are other effects as well, Chinese children in western boarding schools have been told that they cannot return to see their parents for half term which starts today.
I am in the UK at the moment and I am unable to have my favourite Chinese take away because of the fear that someone in their family has just returned from the homeland.
I have, however, discovered my own way to avoid contracting the coronavirus I shall be drinking Sol instead.