The Changing Atmosphere of the World with COVID-19 - The UOS Times
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The Changing Atmosphere of the World with COVID-19
Kim Ji-young  |
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[0호] 승인 2020.05.12  
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The shock of the coronavirus has spread out around the world, and people's daily lives are also affected. The coronavirus has become a “pandemic”, the highest warning rate for infectious diseases declared by the World Health Organization (WHO). According to the figures provided by the Task Force (TF), 2.27 million confirmed cases occurred in more than 190 countries as of April 19, with more than 148,000 dead. However, London's Imperial College, an organization that provides authoritative analysis and forecasts on infectious diseases, said in a statement that if governments stand by “No action,” about 7 billion people, 90 percent of the world's population, will be infected and about 40 million will die. The announcement illustrates how important the nation's early intervention is.

Despite mankind's ongoing efforts to fight the coronavirus, chances are very slim that the pandemic will end soon. In order for the pandemic to end, 60 to 70 percent of the population must be infected by forming collective immunity or mass production of vaccines. However, given that most experts expect vaccine development would take at least one to three years, we all will have to prepare for a long fight.

It has been three months since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 occurred in Korea. It has been two months since our daily lives have changed because of the mass infection of Shincheonji and Daegu. Currently, South Korea’s daily confirmed cases have significantly decreased as a result of its efforts to prevent the spread of disease. The government is partially easing "social distancing" and preparing for a shift to the everyday life.

In such situation, the global economy has already fallen into its worst condition, comparable to the Great Depression. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently forecasted global economic growth for 2020 at -3.0 percent. It is a 6.4 percentage point downgrade adjustment from the 3.4 percent forecast made in October last year. The figure is even more serious than the global financial crisis, which caused -1.7 percent growth in the global economy in 2009. Despite each country's bold economic stimulus policies, there are signs of a global financial crisis. More than 90 countries are already asking the IMF for assistance.

Even after the Chinese government calmed the outbreak of the infection centered on Wuhan and Hubei with strong containment measures and eased social distancing across the country, it has not achieved a drastic economic recovery. The Chinese economy suffered a shocking economic downturn of -6.8% in growth in the first quarter, and a gloomy outlook continues due to concerns of secondary infections and a slump in exports. Since the coronavirus is highly contagious, the possibility of early improvement has virtually disappeared as it spread around the world. Drastic economic recovery is unlikely due to enormous uncertainties and disruptions in domestic and global supply chains even after some calm.

Fortunately for South Korea, the economic shock is relatively less due to its success in curbing COVID-19. This was capable by focusing on rapid tracking and isolation for the infect and without taking harsh containment measures. Thanks to this, the IMF forecast Korea's growth rate for this year at -1.2 percent, the highest among advanced economies. Despite the success of prevention, however, due to South Korea’s high dependence on the outside world, serious damage is inevitable, and there is still a high level of uncertainty regarding the disinfection and economy.

As many indicators from above say, much has changed due to the coronavirus. People are trying to practice "social distancing" despite of their discomfort, but many industries are seen to be harmed directly by this situation. According to the Coronavirus Impact Report released by Nielsen after surveying and analyzing the "National Coronavirus Influence" in more than 70 countries around the world, including Korea, the cases of eating out have decreased from 44 percent to 19 percent. Ordering packaged meals edged up with a shade of difference from 23 percent to 29 percent. This is because the generalization of social distancing has reduced the number of outings and instead of restaurants that many unspecified people visit, more meetings have been held in private spaces. In addition to the restaurant business, sports and leisure activities decreased 67 percent, shopping mall visits decreased 61 percent, and religious activities decreased 47 percent, the report showed. Not only overseas travel but also domestic travel (72 percent) fell to a great extent, while public transportation use (58 percent) plunged sharply.

COVID-19 is making it more difficult for people to keep their daily lives stable. The schedule of schools and events where many people gather is encouraged to be postponed and many companies are making their employees to work from home. Due to the global economic crisis, employment is becoming more difficult and the number of unemployed is increasing. The UOS Times hopes that the spread of the COVID-19 to calm down as soon as possible through everyone's efforts, reducing global damage and allowing everyone to live their daily lives in peace.

Kim Ji-young

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