Everywhere we look, we see headlines about the Coronavirus and the fear wave it’s sending across the world. Italy struggling to fight the outbreak, shortage in protective masks everywhere, panic scenes from around the globe… it’s all having a serious impact on our mental health. However, there are far-reaching effects that few are talking about, the impact the highly mediatized outbreak is having on business and economy, as collapsing stock markets show.
UNDERSTANDING SURROUNDING ECONOMIC ISSUES
Major retailers, manufacturers, pharmaceutical or automotive groups are firmly planted in China, both with technology and personnel. Now that China’s borders are closed, to contain the pandemic, the rest of the world is watching. And the business world is feeling restless. Basic global observations are showing that movements of people and technology as well as deal closures have come to a halt. And even once the Chinese government, or the rest of the world, or even the WHO declare it is safe to travel to China again, that will not be the end of the crisis that is building up. Cancellations are occurring throughout the world and activities are suspended across all business sectors. As long as the virus was limited to China or nearby countries, it was mainly viewed as an economic issue for Asia. Now that the virus has spread into Italy, it makes it a European issue, and possibly a global issue that could negatively impact the supply chain for months or even years. Moving back to normalcy might be a rather slow and painful process. Even IATA, International Air Transport Association, has warned that Coronavirus could cost global carriers about $30 bn in lost revenue.
THE NEGATIVE IMPACT OF SOCIAL MEDIA
There is no doubt that social media has become an outstanding medium for instant information. However, in the light of Coronavirus outbreaks, the spread of public health misinformation through social media has become dramatic, social influencers drawing conclusions and sharing information based on wrong or incomplete facts. Besides misinforming the general public, social media has greatly contributed to the “bigger agendas” of unnamed players, be there governments or powerful lobbies ; the fact that the way the outbreak has been mediatized is serving the economic strategies of mega-corporations.
There’s no magic solution, no. No fail-safe, always successful tool that will work against the spread of false information. We can only count on experts and professionals to educate the people with facts-based information in order to counterpoint misinformation, hoping that community groups and organizations will pitch in and play their part. We have to learn to tone down the negative impact social media can have and yet be more proactive in promoting information. Even more so when public health is at stake.