15.02.2020 08:15 ET
One of America’s largest trading partners may well be dealing with the coronavirus pandemic next and the consequences for the global economy are mind boggling. While China might well be the world’s supply chain provider, Japan is still one of the leading automotive and tech industry powerhouses and should this outbreak shut the country down the global economy will collapse into a recession rapidly; if not worse.
Hints of the severity of this problem became evident this morning when I read the following story from Nikkei.com this morning(translated from Japanese with GoogleTranslate):
Dwango to work 1,000 people at home with new type pneumonia from 17th
Dwango has decided to implement telework at home for about 1,000 employees from 17-21. Measures following the spread of pneumonia caused by the new coronavirus in Japan. Except when it is unavoidable to come to the office for work such as visitors, have them work at home. At home, IT (information technology) companies have been working to prevent employees from becoming infected with new types of pneumonia.
If this isn’t an indication of the start of something larger then consider what will happen when the Japanese auto industry, already struggling with limited parts production incoming from China, has to begin shutting down operations for sustained periods of time inside Japan then eventually as a result, their facilities in the United States.
To make matters worse, it would appear that a tourist infected with n-COV19 may have spent time in Hawaii. From Maui Now:
Japan Resident with Coronavirus was on Maui and O‘ahu
Health Director Bruce Anderson said the state Department of Health was notified by the CDC this morning. He said the man returned to Aichi Prefecture in central Japan and developed further symptoms there. During his time on Maui (from Jan. 28 to Feb. 3) he did not have any symptoms, according to Anderson. “He was healthy and well,” but “developed cold-like symptoms” while on Oʻahu (between Feb. 3-7, 2020), but no fever while there, according to Anderson.
While on Oʻahu, the man stayed at a time-share unit in Waikīkī operated by Hilton Grand Vacation. State officials say he did not seek medical care as far as they know while he was here in Hawaiʻi. Health officials say the man was wearing a mask while traveling. Authorities say he was traveling with his wife.
Dr. Sarah Park State Epidemiologist said the assumption is that the individual was most likely infected while in Japan or potentially while in transit here.
This means that while he transitioned from asymptomatic conditions to actually ill with “cold like symptoms” he probably spread the disease while in the islands….which also means he probably spread the disease inside two major gateway airports of Hawaii on Maui and Oahu.
Sadly these two stories, along with other news leaking out, seem to indicate that the problem in Japan may be far worse shape than we know about. The silence or attempts to make the problem go away via censorship means the economic shock will only be greater once it is realized.