Malaysia Expresses Fears The Coronavirus Will Affect Its Economy
The effect of the Coronavirus continues to bite in Asia. This week, Malaysia barred the entry of MS Westerdam passengers after an American woman tested positive. The cruise ship that set sail from Hong Kong on 1st February has been the object of refusal by various ports for it to dock.
Malaysia Takes A Step
Malaysian authorities this week refused entry to the rest of the passengers aboard the MS Westerdam cruise ship. This move came after a passenger from the ship, which docked in Cambodia, tested positive for the virus on arrival in Kuala Lumpur.
The passenger, an 83-year old American woman, tested positive for the virus at the Kuala Lumpur Airport. When she went through the scanners, they confirmed that her flu-like symptoms were the Coronavirus. She becomes the first passenger on the ship reported to have the virus that continues to kill many in Asia. Earlier, the woman and her husband both exhibited flu-like symptoms. The husband, however, tested negative for the virus but is under observation.
According to the John Hopkins University, Malaysia has so far confirmed 22 cases of the virus. The woman now becomes the 23rd case, and this prompted the decision to bar entry for other passengers.
Panic Runs Wide
Malaysia is not the only country barring the entry of passengers from the cruise ship. Previously, other Asian countries refused the ship a chance to dock within their territory. The same has been the case for other cruise ships that started their cruise in China or Hong Kong.
We don’t know if officials will confirm other cases of the virus onboard the MS Westerdam cruise ship and what the effect will be on the world economy. However, the sentiment is that things could get worse because the passenger interacted with other passengers on board. The cruise ship has 1,455 guests and a crew consisting of 802 members.
The cruise ship docked in Cambodia on Thursday last week after several countries turned its request down. Among the countries that refused the cruise ship entry are Japan, Thailand, and the Philippines. Each one of these countries expressed fears that the passengers might carry the coronavirus.
Bad News For The Economy
Economy news analysts this week downgraded their financial forecasts for Malaysia. This came after the confirmation of the 23rd Coronavirus case in the country. Additionally, the deputy minister for International Trade and Industry, Ong Kian Ming, expressed fears that the economy would take a hit.
In his statement, he said that the spread of the virus is sure to affect supply chains. This, in turn, would affect the various multinationals operating in Malaysia. He, however, reaffirmed that the government and the central bank had the ability to support the companies’ shoulder any effects of the virus on the economy.
On the other hand, various economy news analysts are pessimistic the 2019 fourth quarter year-on-year growth of 3.6% might be the best it does in a while. The government projects the economy of Malaysia will grow 4.8%, but the number of dissidents to this is growing daily.
Most recently, Dutch Bank ING lowered its forecast from 4.5% to 3.5%. Of all other economic research firms, this was the most drastic downgrade. An Asian economist at the firm, Prakash Sakpal, wrote that it’s only a matter of time before the demand takes a hit.
In his view, Malaysia is not immune to the effect of the spread of the Coronavirus and will see a slump in demand. Other countries in Asia are already expressing fears that their economies will take a hit. The cumulative effect of this on the world economy is something that most analysts are monitoring closely.
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