The recent outbreak of coronavirus in China is gradually turning into a global epidemic and the aftermath of the alert is giving us serious plague paranoia, much like what we used to see in Hollywood disease thrillers such as Contagion, I Am Legend and 28 Days Later to name a few. Unfortunately, the disease has now reached our doorstep as according to last night’s media reports, two cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Pakistan.
As soon as the news hit the airwaves that “a 22-year-old male with a history of travel to Iran has been diagnosed with the virus,” announcements were made by the Sindh government to shut down schools for two days. With porous borders with Iran and Afghanistan, to and fro air travel open from China, dilapidated hospitals and high percentage of illiterate population, Pakistan faces a potentially alarming health crisis from the new coronavirus.
As a consequence we are bond to wonder how this is going to disrupt our social and professional calendar. Karachi Literature Festival is scheduled to commence from February 28 till March 1. Held in auditoriums and open venues at the Beach Luxury Hotel, the festival is attended by people from all walks of life.
Pakistan Super League is also currently happening in Pakistan and with international players involved, there is a risk that some players may think of leaving the country. However, no such report has surfaced till now.
A party by Velo Pakistan is also due for the season as well as Ali Sethi is all set to perform at Salt Arts concert this Sunday in Avari Towers, Karachi. We have inquired the organizers for a confirmation if they are going ahead with the events and are waiting for a response. Keep watching this space for updates.
Saudi Arabia also temporarily halted travel to the holy sites in Mecca and Medina over coronavirus fears just months ahead of the annual Hajj pilgrimage, as the Middle East recorded more than 220 confirmed cases. Saudi Arabia has also suspended visas for tourists from countries with confirmed cases of the virus.
Global Fashion Weeks
Fashion weeks in Beijing and Shanghai, both set to take place at the end of March, were postponed due to coronavirus. Meanwhile, numerous Chinese fashion brands have pulled out of fashion weeks in Paris and Milan. Georgio Armani held Milan Fashion Week show in an empty theater because of the coronavirus scare. Seoul Fashion Week was cancelled due to the threat.
Burberry has postponed its fall 2020 Shanghai show, Chanel announced that it has postponed the restaging of its Métiers d’Art show in Beijing and Prada also plans to postpone its upcoming resort 2021 show, which was initially planned for May 21 in Japan.
Drop in Stock Prices
According to WWD, a number of fashion and beauty brands have experienced sharp declines in their stock prices, including Burberry, Ralph Lauren, Salvatore Ferragamo Italia and others.
Filming of the Mission: Impossible VII in Italy has been paused due to concerns about the outbreak of coronavirus in the country. Tom Cruise was not in Italy for the shoot, according to The Hollywood Reporter, but the production crew were sent home.
One of the impacts of coronavirus is closed movie theaters in China and Italy. The world’s second-largest box office market — China — has been shut down entirely for weeks as a preventative measure. It has lead to the cancellation of Chinese premiere of the new Bond film, No Time to Die, which was due in April. A burning question is that what will happen to the film business in case the virus surfaces in America? In worst case of this epidemic, closing of theaters would be unprecedented.
To be cancelled?
IOC member Dick Pound has told Associated Press that preparations for Tokyo 2020 are “business as usual” and any decision on whether or not the event will go ahead does not need to be taken until May. But he raised the prospect of a cancellation if the circumstances demand it nearer the time.
Officials of South by Southwest — the major cultural festival held each year in Austin, Texas — have said it is “proceeding as planned”, but “where travel has been impacted, especially in the case of China, we are seeing a handful of cancellations”. It is due to run from 13th to 22nd March. Two Pakistani films, Saim Sadiq’s Darling and Iram Parveen’s I’ll Meet You There, are scheduled to be screened at the fest.
According to The Guardian, the spread of the virus will also adversely impact high-profile international film festivals, such as Cannes (due in May) and Venice (due in September). The deep-pocketed representatives of the Chinese industry will be unable to travel, but we anticipate that excessive local controls will put an end to the high-profile gala screenings, big money deals and PR campaigns that are the festivals’ bread and butter.