KUALA LUMPUR, 21 March 2020 – What had started as a viral flu outbreak has now turned into a global pandemic. The Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak has put most countries around the world on lockdown, and has crippled economic activity across the globe.
Close to 250,000 people have been infected across 181 countries thus far, and with more than 10,000 deaths reported. Already, there have been reports of potential bankruptcies as a result of the global lockdowns, and the International Labour Organization estimates that almost 25 million jobs could be lost worldwide as a result of Covid-19 outbreak.
In Malaysia alone, more than 1,000 people have been infected by Covid-19 as at the time of writing, with three fatalities reported. The growing number of cases in Malaysia resulted in the government imposing a two-week Movement Control Order (MCO) nationwide that started on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the benchmark FBM KLCI dropped below the 1,300 mark for the first time in a decade on Monday. Year to date, the index has lost more than 300 points, or 30% year-to-date to close at 1,219.72 points last Thursday.
A tumble in crude oil prices, with benchmark Brent crude plunging 60% year-to-date to trade at US$26 per barrel drove the ringgit to a four-year low of 4.42 to the dollar.
So just how much worse Covid-19 outbreak can it get? The Edge spoke to economists on whether they see an impending recession — one just as bad as the 1997/98 Asian Financial Crisis and the 2008/2009 Global Financial Crisis, or worse.
In our accompanying stories, we take a look at how the outbreak has impacted manufacturing supply chains, as well the small-to-medium enterprises (SME) and participants of the gig economy.