By James S. Kallman
The world is currently awakening from various forms of restrictions on their movement brought about in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. How the different countries fare remains to be seen, but there is no going back to life as it once was. The world has changed.
In a perfect world, one could remain in quarantine until a vaccine had been found, tested and sufficient doses manufactured to inoculate the whole world, but that’s likely to be another 12 to 18 months, despite the protestations of some world leaders. Sadly, that’s not fast enough, as the world’s economy cannot afford to be slowed almost to a standstill.
And so the world opens, like a mouse cautiously sniffing the air – from behind a mask, of course. How well it goes depends on how careful the population has been in following its restrictions, and how diligent the governments have been in testing and tracking suspected cases. Nor is the availability of test equipment the only constraint, Indonesia, for instance, is reportedly lacking trained laboratory personal.
Where sufficient figures exist, however, the expectations are that that the virus will naturally die out if the infection rate remains below 1.0, assuming that people can’t be re-infected that is. Nevertheless, the social distancing of at least 2 meters, wearing of face masks, and frequent washing of hands, all must still be followed.
Elsewhere, the opening of the economy is a matter of a series of ‘educated guesses’, seeking to open up sections of society as the government sees fit. Hopes are that medical facilities are not overwhelmed, and medical staff get a chance to draw a deep breath, plus a careful watch will have to be kept on the death rate that it doesn’t exceed the annual average by more than a ‘calculated’ amount. Again, social distancing, etc. must be carefully obeyed.
The human being is very much a social animal, though, that loves to gather in clusters, and released from the rigors of confinement will find it hard to obey social distancing. But obey it must, to prevent a second wave of infection that could be much worse than the first. For the virus hasn’t gone away, it’s merely lying in wait for the unwary.
The trouble is that the world hasn’t treated the Coronavirus in a uniform manner, each country adopting the measures that best suited its purpose. Some were alert and quick to respond, while others were almost in denial and woefully slow. In the end, though we will have to decide on a common course of action, while Covid-19 is alive and effective in any single country, it is a threat to us all.
We will have new things to learn, at least in the short-term, as social distancing becomes a way of life and social gathering takes on a new meaning. Let’s hope that is all we have to learn in this changed new world.
James S. Kallman is a 30-year veteran of emerging markets, James S. Kallman is the senior partner of global accounting and consulting firm, Moores Rowland (a member firm of praxity). James is regularly quoted in local and international media.