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Coronavirus impacts hit home

Opinion Piece

We have had three cancellations at Tatapouri from Shanghai, China because of the coronavirus — which is great, as containment is very important.

I believe that it will be at least one year before there is effective control and a vaccine developed.

This means the New Zealand economy will suffer in some sectors, which could threaten some jobs — mainly in the hospitality and primary industries, like logging.

Imports may be down and prices could go up due to a slowdown in manufacturing production, as people are unable to work due to local containment policies.

My friends in China say in some areas there is great disruption, especially in Wuhan and other locked-down cities.

People in our sister city Rizhao are fine, all services are working and people are going to work — but all are acutely aware that they need to be safe.

Our exports of fruit are coming on soon and China is a major market. I know that the Australians will want NZ apples due to the bushfires destroying some of their large apple orchards, so there is some relief there for the apple market.

I have seen crayfish selling in New Zealand retail stores for $79kg, about half the normal price, probably due to not being able to get the fish to the Chinese New Year market.

There is anxiety in our communities regarding Chinese people who may have the coronavirus.

Even a few Kiwi Chinese are saying unkind things to Kiwi Chinese.

There is a need to be aware, but not to be inadvertently racist or unkind.

It is worth comparing this coronavirus outbreak to the swine flu which spread from the United States in 2009/2010. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that swine flu infected nearly 61 million people in the US and caused 12,469 deaths; worldwide, up to 575,400 people died.

Get the facts:

There are no cases of coronavirus in New Zealand.

The airlines won't be operating in and out of China — so there is nearly no risk of contamination.

Even people from other countries who are just stopping over in China won't be allowed into New Zealand — so another preventative way to remove risk.

A few Asians are wearing mouth masks in NZ, mainly in Auckland — they are making sure they don't get the coronavirus themselves.

Schools with Chinese students coming from China have asked them to stay in China till further notice; they can't get here anyway, due to the flights being stopped.

Symptomatically, most patients with this new coronavirus display fever and/or a cough.

If you feel crook, go to see the doctor or go to hospital — no ifs or buts, just get yourself there to keep you and others safe.

I appeal to all New Zealanders that we restrain from unkind comment and actions. Give nothing to racism.

My family's condolences go to all those affected.