The cross-border flow of people and goods have been disrupted in recent weeks by the spread of the coronavirus — now designated as a global health emergency by the World Health Organization. Government and businesses have suspended travel to and from China, and dozens of countries have banned the entry of people who had recently been to the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the outbreak originated, or China itself.
The Global Risks Report 2020 by the World Economic Forum lists the outbreak of infectious diseases as a high impact risk — though relatively low in likelihood. Risk items with both high likelihood and high impact include extreme weather, biodiversity loss, natural disasters, climate action failure, water crises, human-made environmental disasters, cyberattacks and global governance failures.
It is hoped that this emergency situation will subside at some point (hopefully before the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer), and that vaccines will be developed. Given the rapid spread of the outbreak and severe downward impact likely on the global economy (including supply chain disruption), however, it is imperative for all of us to be prepared for the type of risk that disrupts the international flow of people and goods.