Consumers and the coronavirus: The implications for Jamaica


Consumers and the coronavirus: The implications for Jamaica

Friday, February 21, 2020

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Despite reports by the World Health Organization (WHO) last week that the number of cases of the deadly novel coronavirus being recorded on a daily basis in China is “stabilising”, concerns expressed by manufacturers and retailers suggest there will be a domino effect to consumers.

At present, according to a scientific risk assessment group, a part of the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, there is no evidence to suggest that the pathogen could be transmitted through food or consumer goods.

Over the last two weeks, the Jamaica Observer received various reports from business operators stating that they are faced with the challenge of a shortage of supplies due to restricted movements of goods and people from the infected regions in China — a result of China being the dominant supply market for many local businesses.

Some small business operators in downtown Kingston, who travel to China to purchase merchandise, are pondering their next move in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China, which has spread to 28 countries and territories around the world.

While some pointed out that the cost associated with sourcing items from other countries will hit their businesses negatively, they also said they would have to find a way to continue their only means of making a living.

Consequently, there is a strong likelihood that prices for most consumer goods in Jamaica will increase gradually, while concurrently consumer spending will decline, as the outbreak worsens.

This global pandemic will require a collective response from all Jamaicans in order to safeguard the country from being severely affected whether directly or indirectly, as well as government ministries, agencies, and departments to be more vigilant in communicating the necessary information and updates regarding the coronavirus.

Consumers should also be mindful that these circumstances also create opportunities for unscrupulous individuals to benefit by pretending to be from legitimate health organisations, like the WHO.

— Abbion Robinson

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