The Coronavirus is moving into different stages across Europe. Italy has locked down the entire country to stop the spread of the outbreak. This is understandable as Italy has one of the oldest populations in Europe. 25% of the population is over the age of 65 and this is the age that is most at risk. Germany has over 1000 cases and too date the Government has not taken many actions. In the UK just over 300 cases and we continue to operate within business as usual.
Tow observations on firm leadership. Singapore went through the Sars epidemic just over 20 years ago. A lot of lessons were learned and remembered. Today the government are implementing many of the procedures that they acquired over a decade age. Of 190 cases of Coronavirus, 90 have been discharged and 10 are in intensive care. No deaths. The Singaporean government acted proactively and implemented measures quickly. Of course, the memory of Sars encouraged such action.
2008 was the financial epidemic. Countries were not in lockdown, but the global financial systems were in meltdown. The comparison is not the same. World leaders acted quickly to implement co-ordinated actions to support the global financial systems. There are differences in trying to protect a financial system from collapse compared to trying to protect the population from an epidemic. I will not enter into the political and economic drivers of the debate here, but rather focus on the quick, firm action that has produced the desired results.
Italy tried business as usual, two weeks ago and it did not work. UK has urged more stringent hygiene measures and tried to continue with business as usual. The German government, as yet has not introduced stringent controls but cases are rising.
The political leaders are not united in their approach. Italy locks down Lombardy yet passengers disembark in UK without any testing. This was probably due to lack of poor communication and uncoordinated policy.
We need European leaders to work together and implement consistent and coordinated policies to control the spread of Coronavirus. Europe is supported by 1000s of SMEs. Coordinated approach to support these businesses through the next few months would also be sensible.
Final thought. In 2008 financial institutions were part of the problem in 2020 they can be part of the solution.