The novel coronavirus and its global outbreak have increased tensions and anxiety across the globe as individuals, communities and governments debate the best course of action to contain and treat the disease. The virus gained particular attention on February 11, 2020 when the World Health Organization provided an official name for the disease - “coronavirus disease 2019” (COVID-19) as well as the virus, called “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2” (SARS-CoV-2). Rates of infection, news that the virus could “jump” from human to human, and the first reports of confirmed cases outside of mainland China all drove conversations across the globe that became dominated by thoughts, fears, and theories related to the outbreak.
Policies of containment have also stepped into the international spotlight. The decision to quarantine the entirety of Wuhan with over 11 million population yielded a particularly emotional reaction from many outside of China. Attracting highly positive attention was the rapid construction of Huoshenshan Hospital, a new facility that was built in a mere ten days to help cope with the outbreak of the coronavirus in the central city of Wuhan. In addition to the quarantine and Huoshenshan Hospital, the coronavirus has yielded China’s largest experiment in working from home, motivating companies to utilize new technology to maintain operations as large swathes of the Chinese economy adjusted to function solely online.
The new virus has yielded a concerning economic fallout illustrated by evidence emerging in manufacturing, commodities, banking and other sectors as well as dramatic falls on international stock exchanges. Fear has also been reflected in the quickly emptying grocery store shelves in many places including mainland China and Hong Kong as residents stock up on food, cleaning products and masks in individual efforts to remain healthy. In impacted regions, tourism and consumer spending are likely to be the most significantly hit - a trend similar to the effects of past epidemics from the Spanish influenza in the 18th century to the Ebola virus in 2014. Conversely, other industries, especially medical industries, are likely to experience more positive shifts as new equipment, technology, and resources are deployed to fight coronavirus.
Despite economic trends and media hysteria emphasizing the negative impacts of the outbreak, novel coronavirus has also encouraged international collaboration and cooperation in new facets. China and the U.S. have remained engaged with the World Health Organization (WHO) throughout the crisis, with a WHO-led international mission expected to travel to China in early March to study the emergence of the virus closely. U.S. health officials and experts were also invited to partake in this delegation.
Support for impacted communities has also been seen from the private and non-profit sector, with American non-profit organization Project Hope sending copious supplies of respirator masks, protective suits, and nitrile gloves to protect healthcare workers in Wuhan. Further, individuals and corporations have joined the fight; with famed moguls like Bill Gates and Jack Ma donating millions toward the development of a vaccine as well as multinational companies such as Tencent, Microsoft and Boeing supplying medical gear and financing toward relief efforts in mainland China.
As both China and the U.S. seek effective means to combat the spread of the virus and to heal the infected, cooperation and communication have become more important than ever. President Trump has applauded President Xi for “leading the counterattack” against the coronavirus, saying the leader was leading “what will be a very successful operation.” Cooperation between China and the U.S. on the novel coronavirus is critical as the outbreak expands internationally; as two of the world’s leading nations, the ability for China and the U.S. to maintain open lines of communication and direct necessary resources to the locations, facilities and individuals who need them the most will serve as a positive example for others in our most trying times.