Russian Media: Fears grow that coronavirus could turn into new Spanish flu

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has spread around the world, with Armenia, Ireland, Qatar, Ecuador and Chile confirming their first cases. A Russian national became the first person to contract the virus in Azerbaijan and deaths from the disease have been reported in the US, Thailand and Australia. The novel coronavirus has affected more than 60 countries. Although the World Health Organization has not yet declared the virus a pandemic, many specialists say that the spread of this disease has all signs of this, Izvestia writes.

"It’s highly likely that a pandemic will be declared with the novel coronavirus. In my view, it has already begun given the number of states registering COVID-19," epidemiologist Viktor Zuev told the paper. According to him, out of all countries hit by the novel coronavirus Italy has been the most irresponsible. Instead of taking emergency measures, its authorities failed to act and as a result, the country is ranked third in terms of the number of those infected.

On Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered extra measures on reducing the impact of the novel coronavirus on the Russian economy, Vedomosti writes. This epidemic poses a serious risk to the nation’s GDP growth, the Bank of Russia said. The spread of COVID-19 could expand the slowdown in production activity that began in early 2020.

The coronavirus has turned into a major problem for the global economy, causing a panic among investors and triggering a collapse of stock markets. Against this background, oil prices are dropping and the ruble rate is decreasing. Experts note that a major threat to Russia’s economy is a decline in oil exports to China and a slump in oil prices. However, this economic blow could be mitigated by increasing domestic demand through raising salaries and budget expenses, analysts at the Bank of Russia said.

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