When I first heard about the coronavirus COVID-19 I assumed it was just another type of flu, and the reaction a bit over the top. Now that I’ve been personally roughed up by this bat fever from China I realise we are dealing with something much more hardcore, but still just like a flu that the vast majority of us can beat without going to hospital. The economic side effects, on the other hand, could be worse than the disease.
I apologise to my readers for being so quiet over Easter. I was fighting my own personal war with COVID-19 whilst trying to care for my wife and kids. It’s been a challenging few weeks.
My experience of Chinese bat flu was one week of what felt like a cold coming on before things turned nasty with 10 consecutive days of fever ranging between 37.5º in the morning and 39º in the evening, a relentless unproductive cough, a semi-permanent headache, a runny tummy, total fatigue, an achy body, bed sweats and zero appetite. I also had feverish dreams of eating raw bat meat. I don’t remember ever feeling so bad for so long, though I’m relieved to say I never felt short of breath or suffered any problems breathing, which is why I never went to hospital.
I tried to get tested, but it turned out to be too much hassle. In Spain you have to go to hospital to get tested, which you don’t want to do unless you are so sick you need to go to hospital. So people like me don’t get tested. It goes without saying that the Spanish number of confirmed cases is just a fraction of the real number, I guess less than 10%, which makes the fatality rate look much worse than it really is.
Having felt the force of the virus in my own body, I can see why it is going to put a lot of people in hospital, especially the elderly. But it seems to me, if you are fit and healthy, with no weakness in your lungs or heart for this virus to exploit, you have little to worry about other than getting through two weeks of feeling rotten. Without a vaccine I assume everyone has to catch it at some point. Many people, especially kids, won’t even notice they have it.
Here in Spain we are just ending the fifth week of lockdown with no real end in sight, and I dread to think how much economic damage is being done. There is bound to be a huge amount of distress playing out under the radar as the media dwells on the health side of this crisis. But soon the economic drama will become the main story.
Although I understand the need for an initial lockdown to give the health system a chance to prepare, not least to give medical staff a chance to catch and recover from the virus before they are overwhelmed with sick people coughing all over them, I fear the cure will end up worse than the disease. An economic depression will come at a high price in terms of human health and happiness.
Every day the lockdown continues, thousands of families lose their livelihoods. In my opinion they should end the lockdown right now, and get everyone back to school and work except for high risk groups, who should continue in isolation. So, what is the plan in Spain? Officially the ‘State of Alarm’ ends on the 11th of May, after which we can expect a two-phase return to work, though the details are still vague. I have read that tourism will remain locked down for the rest of the year. If so, the Spanish economy really will be in deep mierda. Sadly, Spain in currently run by a weak and incompetent government.
Now that I have the virus behind me I can turn my attention and energy to looking at the threats and opportunities faced by buyers, owners, and sellers of property in Spain. These are going to be interesting times, and information will be more valuable than ever. I’ve already seen a couple of cases of developers slashing prices to levels unthinkable just a few weeks ago.
During my sick days I spent some time researching where the virus came from. It seems it might have come from one of China’s diabolical wildlife markets, or from a sloppy Chinese lab mucking around with bat viruses. However it started, the Chinese government turned it into a global catastrophe by trying to cover it up. We are all paying the price for the irresponsible behaviour of Chinese Communist Party bosses and officials, and it’s important that the world lays the blame at their feet. At the very least, I hope our leaders stop kowtowing to the Chinese Communist Party.
The geo-political fallout from this virus is likely to be dramatic, with a big impact on Chinese demand for property in countries like Spain. where the Chinese have long been the biggest investors in Spain’s residency by investment ‘Golden Visa’ scheme.