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Will Hantavirus Threaten the Smartphone Market?

by Neil Mawston | Mar 24, 2020

While the world deals with Covid-19 coronavirus, some parts of China today are quietly starting to worry about an emerging case of hantavirus.

A man in Yunnan province, southwestern China, close to north Vietnam, seemingly died from it this week while travelling on a public bus with dozens of fellow passengers.

This has (understandably) sparked fears that a fresh wave of novel virus is upon us, with some media outlets speculating there may be a "surge" of cases in the coming weeks. As I write, #hantavirus is the no.1 trending topic worldwide on Twitter this morning (Tuesday).

Hantavirus is defined by the US CDC as a severe lung disease or hemorrhagic fever. Some reports suggest a death rate as high as 40%, which is significantly higher than the Covid-19 rate of under 10%. Its incubation period is said to be 1-5 weeks.

The good news is that hantavirus is very rare and it is not airborne (between people). It can be contracted if a human touches their face, eyes, mouth or nose, but only after touching rodent droppings, urine or nesting materials (e.g. some types of rat or mouse). Farmers across North America and Europe are well aware of hantavirus, because rodents inhabit their barns and must be careful when sweeping dusty floors.

The worry, of course, is that hantavirus could mutate (like Covid-19) and become much more virulent from person to person. If this happens, there will be a fresh tsunami of fear and the global economy could well be in trouble.

In a worst-case scenario, global smartphone sales will get hammered in H1 2020 by Covid-19, and could get hammered down further again in H2 2020 by hantavirus. This is a scenario nobody wants to see.

To be clear, this appears to be one isolated case at the moment. It does not yet appear officially on the WHO website (who track global cases). Other human cases have been tracked in Argentina and Panama in the past 2 years, and the spread there fizzled out quickly.

Nonetheless, in the current environment, it is vital to monitor these emerging cases of super-viruses at the earliest possible stage. If this proves a false alarm or "fake news", then great. But, it is better to be informed and aware, than not prepared at all. Keep an eye on hantavirus.

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