Indians concerned about Coronavirus, 41% cautious about upcoming summer travel; Businesses starting to feel supply and demand impact
- • 70% say Government should follow up and track the health of all those who have arrived from China and Singapore in last 30 days
- • Want India to ramp up production of facial masks, paper tissues, drugs etc
February 18, 2020, New Delhi: The death toll in China from the novel coronavirus epidemic which originated in the city of Wuhan in the Hubei province, has surpassed 1800 and the number of confirmed cases has crossed 72,000. Last week, health officials in China reported a sharp rise in confirmed cases, after the Chinese officials broadened their definition of confirmed cases and included the use of lung imaging to diagnose the virus in a suspected patient, in addition to the standard nucleic acid tests.
The Coronavirus Study Group (CSG) of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses has decided to call the virus severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, or SARS-CoV-2, also popularly known as COVID-19.
3 confirmed cases of Coronavirus have been detected in India so far but there have been no casualties. Coronavirus has been a subject of active discussion on LocalCircles over the last month and thousands of queries and information exchanges have taken place during this time. With the Indian high travel season (March – June) right around the corner, LocalCircles conducted a survey to ascertain how the COVID-19 has affected people’s travel plans, there level of concern, views on India’s handling of the situation and how the businesses think this virus will affect them. The first question asked citizens how are they looking at the Coronavirus issue. 72% said they are staying alert and taking precautions while 16% said they don’t believe it can impact them or Indians at large. A small 3% said they believe it cannot impact them at all.
72% citizens say they are staying alert about developments around Coronavirus and taking precautions
There have been reports of Coronavirus cases being detected around the world including USA, Europe, South-East Asia and the Middle-East. People who have been in China or even Singapore in the past 15-20 days are at a high risk of carrying the virus to their destination country.
The next question asked how is Coronavirus affecting their or their family’s summer travel plan. Only 9% said they have made bookings and will travel regardless of how the situation unfolds while 10% said they have made bookings but might cancel them based on how the situation develops. 31% said they haven’t made bookings yet and will only book it based on how the entire situation develops. 6% said they haven’t booked yet but will make bookings regardless of it. 39% said they did not have any summer travel plans independent of Coronavirus.
41% citizens cautious about travelling this summer due to Coronavirus
Many countries have issued travel advisories and restrictions on travel to and from China, due to which thousands of people have postponed/cancelled their travel plans for the upcoming months.
According to citizens, thousands of travellers originating in different parts of China and Singapore have entered different cities of India in the last 20 days with limited screening.
70% citizens say Govt must follow up to track health of all passengers who have landed from China and Singapore after Jan 10, 2020
Citizens were asked what precautionary measures can realistically be taken to prevent the spreading of Coronavirus. 70% said Government should follow up and track the health of all those who have arrived from China and Singapore in last 30 days. 9% said Government should issue restrictions or guidelines for public places like restaurants, theatres, malls, airports, railway stations etc. 10% said all public and private hospitals and their officials should be sensitised so that individuals with symptoms are quarantined. 6% said they don’t believe any of these measures are practical while 2% said such steps are not needed as Coronavirus is still a minor risk in India.
The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare recently issued a travel advisory urging people to refrain from visiting China. "Travel Advisory further revised informing the public to refrain from travel to China and that anyone with travel history in China since January 15, 2020 and from now on could be quarantined," said the statement released by the ministry. The e-Visa facility for Chinese passport holders has also been temporarily suspended.
For effective tracking of those who have landed from China, Hong Kong, Singapore in the last 30 days and were cleared in airport screenings, the Government must follow up with them to ensure they haven’t developed Coronavirus symptoms. Citizens were asked what was their view on it. 15% said it should be done and they have evidence that it is being done properly while 53% said in should be done but is not happening and this request should be escalated to the Government. 7% said it is currently not being done but should be done, and the Government will not be able to do it. 4% said it is not happening and is not needed while 21% were unsure about it.
60% citizens feel screening and tracking of those who have landed from China, Hong Kong and Singapore wasn’t happening effectively in the last 30 days, demand action
Multiple LocalCircles members outlined how screening at airport was minimum and 1 counter with 2 individuals to take temperature of 300+ passengers and note their details is just not enough. A few of them reported how people were getting away. Infection experts on the platform said that airport screening only catches about 25% of the patients highlighting the need for a 3, 7, 10 and 15 day follow up with each patient by the respective State Governments. This follow up is not happening in most states, according to citizens.
The Government has recently confirmed that passengers from over 2000 flights have been screened and over 15,000 people have been kept under watch as a matter of abundant precaution, and those showing early symptoms were being kept in isolation at hospitals.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently wrote to the Chinese Prime Minister Xi Jinping and offered a helping hand in the handling of Coronavirus. India will be sending large quantities of surgical gloves, disposable masks, surgical suits, protective facial screens etc. to China this week to help the medical workers in containing the spread of this deadly disease.
The following question asked in regards to the Coronavirus pandemic, what should be India’s approach on supply of face masks, drugs, toilet paper, facial tissues etc. to world markets. 40% said India should exhibit world leadership by ramping up production and increase exports while 43% said India should ramp up production but maintain exports so that a buffer stock is maintained in case of an increase in domestic demand. 13% said India should maintain production but ban exports to focus on domestic demand. Just a week back, India revoked its export ban on masks and is now shipping them to China.
83% citizens in favor of India ramping up production of facemasks/drugs/facial tissues to help address the Coronavirus pandemic; do not support export ban of these items
Indian businesses import raw material in large quantity from China. Top Indian imports from China include electronic equipment, machinery, organic chemicals, fertilizers, vehicle components, telecom equipment, mobile phones etc. The Coronavirus has also restricted the trade movement to and from China, which might impact the manufacturing units in India who are heavily dependent on these Chinese imports. Pharma industry for instance has 8-10 weeks of inventories but believes that if the China supply shutdowns prolong to April, there will a shortage of generic drugs in the Indian market.
The final question was for business and it asked startups and SMEs how do they see Coronavirus impacting their business in the next 3 months. 45% said they do not see any impact of Coronavirus on their business. 3% said they foresee a supply disruption or increase in supply costs while 10% said they foresee lower demand for their products/services. 16% said they foresee both of these happening. 26% were unsure about it. This indicates that 19% Indian businesses are experiencing supply disruption while 26% are experiencing demand slowdown in their business.
Business Impact of Coronavirus: 19% Indian businesses facing supply disruption/increase in costs while 26% are facing lower demand for their products/services due to Coronavirus
China is India’s biggest trade partner after the United States and supplies some critical input items to our industries. Although the risk of shortage of raw materials for Indian companies and production being halted would be a big talking point currently, India’s Chief Economic Advisor Krishnamurthy Subramanian has said that this could be an opportunity for the Indian manufacturers to step up and increase their capacity and expand exports from the country.
At the time when the COVID-19 is threatening to stall the entire Asian economy, Indian Government will have to react to this global scare swiftly and take measures to protect both its citizens and businesses at the same time.
Poll Demographics and Participation
Over 40,000 responses were received from participants based in Tier 1, 2 and 3 cities of India. 39% respondents were women while 61% were men.