Global cases of the novel coronavirus crossed 100,000 on Friday as the pathogen races around the world, infecting people on every continent except Antarctica and hobbling the global economy.
The vast majority of cases — more than 80,000 — are still in China, where the virus emerged last December. But other nations from Italy to South Korea have emerged as secondary epicentres of infection. The outbreak has resulted in a slowdown of economic and social activity across the world, from flight cancellations to mass school closures.
South Korea has the second-largest outbreak globally, with more than 6,500 cases. Italy is third, with almost 4,000 cases and nearly 150 deaths — the worst toll of fatalities outside China, which has seen more than 3,000 deaths.
Infections originating from Italy and Iran have spread rapidly across Europe and the Middle East. While the US has only 126 cases, its relatively high mortality rate with 11 deaths suggests there may be hundreds more undiscovered infections.
The Covid-19 outbreak has swiftly surpassed SARS, which the world faced 17 years ago, with more than 700 deaths.
The rapid global spread of the novel coronavirus starkly underscores how inter-connected the global economy has become in the last two decades, from supply chains to travel and tourism. As a result, the outbreak will also extract an unprecedented cost.
Oxford Economics Ltd. reckons an international health crisis could wipe more than $1 trillion from global gross domestic product. That’s the economic price tag for a spike in workplace absenteeism, lower productivity, sliding travel, disrupted supply chains and reduced trade and investment. As company profit warnings surge, the private sector is also likely to hire less and squeeze spending, accelerating the slowdown.