The novel coronavirus is first and foremost an international health disaster. A quarter of the world is under restricted conditions, if not total lockdown. Yet, sadly, this pandemic will be measured almost equally in the economic damage it wreaks as in the tragic loss of life that it will no doubt provoke in its months-long reign of terror.
COVID-19 will destroy the travel and tourism industry. The World Travel and Tourism Council estimates a decline of 13 per cent of economic input from the sector globally within a month.
This pandemic was caused, in part, by air transport. Just as the (erroneously named) Spanish influenza pandemic of 1918-19 was spread by the global transport of returning troops from the Great War, so too, COVID-19 was spread to all four corners of the globe by rapid travel. The most effective method was by air; infected travellers from the epicentre in the Chinese city of Wuhan on work trips to Singapore and Tehran, among other transit hubs. Of course, some of the most effective vessels of transmissions have proved to be cruise liners, whose capacity to incubate disease has long been known.