Zika and the Singapore Economy

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zika and singapore economy

Zika has been in the news lately and it is the latest virus that is affecting the people of the world. For the uninitiated, Zika is a virus that was first found in Uganda in 1947, but has reared it’s ugly head in Brazil.

It’s a mosquito-transmitted virus that affects pregnant women and their babies. The babies who are born with the zika virus have known to have abnormal head shapes.

A person that has the virus might have the following symptoms.

  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Painful or Red eyes
  • Joint Pain
  • Itching Rash
  • Muscle Pain

Children with the Zika virus have the following symptoms. The disease is called Microcephaly.

  • Seizures
  • Co-ordination difficulties
  • Dwarfism or Short stature
  • Facial distortions
  • Delay in speech and movement
  • Hyperactivity and
  • Backward – sloping forehead.

The fact that is alarming about the Zika virus is the fact that there are no vaccines available yet. And people from over 70 countries have the zika virus. It is estimated that the virus can reach and affect over 2 Billion people. This is because of the lack of facilities that can even screen for the virus.

So what about Singapore?

Singapore has been affected by the Zika virus and it is pretty alarming. Over 300+ people in Singapore have been affected by the virus and the fact that it was just around 55 people last week is a reason to worry.

A lot of countries have issued travel warnings to their citizens about travelling to Singapore.

If Singapore doesn’t curb the number of Zika cases, then the first Industry that is going to get affected is the tourism Industry. Tourism adds $40 Billion to the Singapore GDP which constitutes about 10% of the overall GDP. The uncurbed spread of the Zika virus will warrant many more countries to Issue travel warnings. Many local businesses will get affected because of the lack of tourists and also the existing tourists wary of trying local foods or venturing out freely.

Very few small businesses might default on some of their loan payments. This again is a worse case scenario.

Business Tourism is another major component in Singapore because of the multitude of businesses present. A lot of travellers travel to the country to do business and the Zika virus can have a slight impact in closing deals. For Singapore businesses that consult with International clients might see a loss of few business opportunities because of the virus. As the virus hasn’t become a epidemic yet, there aren’t any huge economic problems.

One of the main reasons that the virus will not have a big impact on the economy is because of the transmission of the disease. The disease spreads through the following ways

  • Mosquito bite from the Aedes mosquito species
  • Sexual activity without protection
  • From Mother to Child
  • Through blood transfusion
  • Trough laboratory contact

As you can see, this isn’t a communicable virus which spreads from person to person through a sneeze or a cough. So if people are careful enough and take precautions their chances of getting the virus are negligible.

So why are analysts sure that the Zika virus will not have a huge impact on the Singapore Economy?

The answer is : They have a past experience with another virus. The SARS virus in 2003 really had a huge impact because of the way the virus was transmitted. The SARS virus had a lot more fatalities and it could spread through a sneeze or coming in direct contact with the infected droplets.

In Singapore, the majority affected are migrant workers. As the majority of migrant workers work in the construction Industry, some of the construction companies will have a drop in work productivity and projects might get delayed, hence getting their costs high. But, this impact will be highly localised and circumstantial and will not affect the economy as a whole.

As stated above, you will see some reactions from tourists who are worried about their safety and this might impact tourism for a brief period of time which might show a in the GDP forecasts.

Singapore’s economy is mostly impacted by the slowdown of china’s economy. So the economy’s movements will be more to do with China than to do with Zika. So to summarise, the impact of Zika will not be massive and Singapore will come out of it soon, having already experienced an even worse situation with the SARS virus.