The COVID-19 pandemic has been nothing short of an unprecedented crisis in modern times, adversely human lives, and the economic order which frames and fashions livelihoods and lifestyles. The World Health Organisation (WHO) timeline reports that by 31 December 2019, a novel coronavirus was identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province. The first recorded case of COVID-19 outside China was confirmed on 13 January 2020 in Thailand. On 11 March 2020, deeply concerned by the worrying levels and pace of spread and seriousness of the coronavirus, the WHO characterised COVID-19 as a pandemic. By that date, COVID-19 had spread to over 110 countries. By 13 December 2020, more than 1.6 million deaths globally were recorded, with more than 70 million cases of COVID-19 despite monumental containment measures installed by virtually all countries around the world.
The universal immediate response across the world was to put travel restrictions into effect, although of varying intensity and degree depending upon the threat and severity reflected in the number of confirmed cases and fatalities. Western Europe, The United States of America, Brazil and India remain as the hardest hit regions in the world in terms of confirmed COVID-19 cases. As lockdown measures intensified in response to the exponential rise of COVID-19 cases, economic activity witnessed a sharp decline. Supply and distribution chains within and across countries were markedly disrupted. In addition, public health initiatives such as social distancing and limiting social gatherings to only a few were effected as measures to curb transmission.
In general, lockdown measures precipitated the decline in economic activity. Partial and full closures of certain business activities reduced (global) production, coupled with a decline in consumption expenditure as consumers stayed home during lockdowns. Restrictions on movements and (global) travel led to reduction in supply and distribution of goods and services. Commodity prices took a hit; oil prices initially dropped and then stayed flat. Eventually, loss of employment followed reduction in both aggregate demand and supply, exposing structural problems in most developing countries as the poor and vulnerable were substantially made worse off. The International Monetary Fund projects a global recession of up to 3 percent for 2020, worse than the 2008/9 global financial crisis.