**Updated with further information on N95-approved face masks**
Here at The Burn-In, we have a dedicated interest in the semiconductor and components industry. However, we aren’t just interested in watching the market, providing acquisition updates, and informing you about the latest developments in tech.
We also care about safety. For this reason, we have put together an informative article for companies, as well as individuals, who may have to travel during this troublesome time. We know that many companies have vested interests in certain areas. Whether it is Southeast Asia for its manufacturing plants or other regions for ongoing business ventures … the most important thing during this time is to be aware and cautious.
With this on our minds as the coronavirus outbreak dominates headlines, we wanted to put together a general interest story for you.
Here is what you can do to help maintain your own safety and the safety of those around you.
What is Coronavirus?
By now, there’s a good chance you’ve already heard about the coronavirus in some fashion. News reports of a novel virus first arose (in the mainstream) last week. The coronavirus is similar to the SARS virus which caused global panic nearly 20 years ago. That outbreak got the title “the first pandemic of the 21st century” due to the fact that it spread across 29 countries.
Fortunately, experts believe that the coronavirus isn’t quite as severe.
While the new virus does appear to be just as contagious, it also seems far less deadly. Current estimates place the coronavirus’ fatality rate at just 2.3 percent compared to SARS’s 9.6 percent. At this point, the coronavirus hasn’t been declared a pandemic and the World Health Organization hasn’t declared a global public health emergency. As of now, it’s unclear whether the virus is a mutated form of SARS or a new virus altogether.
The new coronavirus causes pneumonia-like symptoms including a cough, fever, and shortness of breath. While these clear in up in most people, the elderly, children, and immunocompromised individuals are more at risk of developing serious complications.
It is believed that the new virus got its footing in Wuhan, China, which is in the country’s Hubei province. This is both a popular travel destination and a major area of interest for the chip sector. Like all coronaviruses, this new one has the ability to spread between animals and humans. Experts believe that the first human patient was infected after coming in contact with it through non-traditional foods in an open-air market.
At the time of this writing, nearly 6,000 cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed. Over 130 people have died. It has spread quickly to other countries, including the United States, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Japan, France, Canada, Vietnam, Germany, and more.
How to Avoid the Coronavirus
At this time, there isn’t a vaccine or specific treatment for the new coronavirus. As such, avoiding areas and surrounding regions known to be impacted is the best course of action (as well as common sense). Both governments and companies are doing their best to stop the spread of the virus by limiting travel to Wuhan and other areas.
For anyone who hasn’t traveled to China or been in contact with someone that has, the chances of getting the new coronavirus are very low. However, it’s better to play it safe at times like this.
The CDC recommends that people take “everyday preventative actions” to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses. This includes frequent handwashing with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. People should also avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth unless they have just washed their hands.
For those who must travel to areas where the coronavirus has been confirmed, some additional precautions can be taken. For example, you can don a mask when in public places. It’s important to note that a standard surgical mask won’t protect you against airborne viral particles. The mask needs to be N95 certified. These must be individually fitted, so be sure to do so before wearing it in public.
Since the outbreak has occurred, these style masks have become scarce. However, companies looking to purchase in large quantities for employees may do so from various B2B sites (click here for one such).
Related: Where to purchase N95 approved masks
Another precaution for individuals traveling into high-risk areas is to wear glasses or some other form of face shield. The new coronavirus can be transmitted through the eyes. Of course, not touching your eyes is a more important preventative step than wearing goggles.
At this point, it’s unlikely that you’ll be traveling to a high-risk area. Now that news of the coronavirus has spread, most people are no longer visiting Wuhan and its surrounding regions. Until fears of the outbreak settle down, this isn’t likely to change.
For now, there might not be much of a choice.
Many major airlines have canceled some or all of their flights to China amid fears of the virus. Passengers on flights still arriving from China, especially into the United States, are being greeted by screening teams to try and catch the virus before it can spread into new areas.
Meanwhile, in China, the government has instated the largest quarantine in human history. It has put 16 cities on lockdown, keeping nearly 50 million people in place to try and prevent the spread of the disease. This has spurred other countries, including the United States, to evacuate their citizens from the area.
Impact on the Chip Sector
As fears of the coronavirus have grown, the impact has been felt in the markets. Monday was the worst day for the U.S. stock market since October. Due to travel restrictions and quarantines, business in certain areas of China will certainly be disrupted in the coming days. While experts work to stop the spread of this new virus, they may need to temporarily close their doors to keep workers safe.
Wuhan, the origin point of the coronavirus, is a manufacturing hub within China. It is also home to major players in the semiconductor industry. For example, Yangtze Memory Technologies and Wuhan Xinxin Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation call it home. These firms are competitors to U.S. companies like Micron and Western Digital.
Krish Sankar, a Cowen analyst, writes, “While the Lunar holiday period is typically a slower time for business activity, the likely extended period of time to address the coronavirus and (more importantly) save lives could affect manufacturing activity at Yangtze Memory and potentially other fabs throughout China if the delivery of supplies and new fab tools is hindered or temporarily halted.”
For now, the world will continue watching the latest developments surrounding the new coronavirus. By following the tips outlined in this article and staying up to date on the latest news from official sources like the CDC, you can help maintain your safety and the safety of those around you.