10:10 GMT01 June 2020
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    The US has begun preparing for a potential coronavirus epidemic within the country, after reported outbreaks in Iran, South Korea and Italy escalated this week. Washington fears that an epidemic could hurt global growth and weaken financial markets worldwide.

    With more on this story, Sputnik spoke to Dr Zheng Wang, an Associate Professor in Economics at De Montfort University.

    Dr Zheng Wang: What I worry most about, are things that happen outside of China - not only Japan but in Korea, Italy and other parts of the European Union as well as North America - but what I can see is that these countries haven't learnt the lesson from China that they should have.

    From what I see in the European Union, governments are starting very tough measures against this very contagious virus. In China, many people can contract the virus unknowingly; however, in many European countries, what I can see is that people don't take it very seriously.

    So I think all these countries have to take more severe measures to try to get this disease under control before it spreads to more people. And this is the most important thing so that it will not stand in the way of other important economic issues like trade talks, innovation and mutual agreements etc.

    Sputnik: You mentioned there about the impact it's having on financial markets; this follows new information this morning which revealed that world stocks tumbled for the fifth day after government and health authorities warned of a coronavirus pandemic. What effect is the coronavirus actually having on economies and stocks around the world?

    Dr Zheng Wang: If we look at China, it has had a huge impact on China, huge negative impact, but now as I said it's already regained much of the ground it has lost. Not only the disease itself is now more under control, but also people and workers are now already returning to their factories. China has lost almost two months of GDP but now because of tough measures all across China, which have been very effective, I think business eventually if given one month or two, will get back to order.

    From my experience last month, most face masks in European countries were sold to the general public as well as Chinese nationals living in these countries because there is a serious shortage of business in China. Now the disease is shifting from China to these countries. I'm not sure the public health sector will be available to tackle this. I think this is my major concern. We need to take the necessary measures to get people ready for an outbreak of the disease.

    Sputnik: In terms of measures that you spoke of there, what actions should we expect from governments and authorities outside of Asia, for example, governments in Italy, in South Korea, in Iran to actually stop the coronavirus from spreading further domestically?

    Dr Zheng Wang: I think what the Italian government is doing is correct. Looking at all the worst-hit towns and imposing temporary travel restrictions to stop the disease from further spread. I think I'm not sure about the other countries, but I think for many other countries other than China I think they'd probably face legal barriers.


    In China, because of the unique legal system, the government can get around to imposing very tough measures, so the country is now running like a ministry zone. People need to get a ticket to get out of their home to buy their essentials.

    I'm not sure this policy could be implemented in countries like the UK. I think the government needs to think about taking some legal actions to pass laws and some acts in parliament so that in case the worst ever happens; the country will have the legal, legitimate power to impose these sorts of temporary restrictions or travel restrictions.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    South Korea, economy, coronavirus, U.S, Italy, Europe, China
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