Coronavirus (or Covid-19) has caused the world to turn upside down in a very short time. As of last week, the picture in Norway has changed dramatically. Today, Norway is the second country in the world when it comes to the number of coronavirus infected people per million inhabitants.
We watched many apocalyptic movies and now it looks like we are experiencing one. Coronavirus may not be as dangerous as viruses we see in movies, but still, it comes with some serious consequences.
On March 09th McKinsey & Co published their view of three possible scenarios regarding the economic consequences of the Covid-19 virus. These three are quick recovery, the global slowdown, and global pandemic. So far, we do not know about any country that had a quick recovery scenario.
Today is the 14th of March and it looks like Norway is experiencing the slowdown stage. Aviation and tourism are the most damaged industries. The fall in the demand came suddenly and we do not know how long it will last. Schools, kindergartens and all services have been closed since that could add to the spreading of the virus.
This did not take long to shift consumer behavior. Suddenly, no more concerts and pub visits. Now our focus is to secure our basic needs which are food and health. Maslow it is; increase in demand for food and basic hygiene products is followed by an increase in demand for medicines. Teaching and meetings have instantly turned into virtual and online learning. As someone said: “Now we will find out how much some of the previously held meetings were actually needed.”
Economic uncertainty and job losses are very scary. Newspapers in Norway wrote today that as at now more than 100.000 jobs have temporally closed. It is expected that in total more than 400.000 are in danger of temporally closing. This means that 15% of the employed are in danger to lose their job. This is going to be a great burden for the country to manage through its unemployment system. As a result, the Norwegian government is putting measures in place in order to soften the economic consequences. On the bright side, Norway is a country with healthy economics, oil fund and banks that have learned a lot from the financial crises in 2008.
Then also, a new demand has occurred. We are facing high demand for medical equipment needed for handling corona infected patients. Home delivery food has skyrocketed in the Oslo region and these companies have managed to hire people from now suffering hotel industry. A factory outside Bergen has managed to adapt to the situation and switched to produce protection masks. On LinkedIn you could see that businesses are asking others to help them find solutions and put them in contact with those who could help them produce more medical equipment that is in high demand right now.
The European Union has also published a funding call for all technologies and innovations that could help in treating, testing, monitoring or other aspects of the Coronavirus outbreak. ( NB deadline 18th of March, here is the link: https://ec.europa.eu/info/news/startups-and-smes-innovative-solutions-welcome-2020-mar-13_en ).
In the meantime, China has sent medical help to Italy. Norway is also in contact with China to supply Norway with necessary medical equipment. People in Norway are trying to exercise solidarity and help each other. For example, a FB group “Corona help- Bergen” in just several hours got more than 11.000 active members. People are concerned but have open their arms to help.
The falling numbers of infected in China also gives hope. However, it is still very inconclusive about how things will develop. I do hope for the best that a vaccine will come out soon. In the meantime, most of us will be working remotely. Homes have become workplaces and virtual meetings will finally experience its true test. Being open-minded, solution-oriented and helpful could make a great difference in these uncertain times. This way we contribute to creating a positive and constructive atmosphere that contributes to faster recovery.