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The Coronavirus & Israel: What are the Economic Implications?

Updated: Mar 9

With over 2440 deaths from the coronavirus, it's no wonder the disease spurred a global panic. While many business are facing losses, others might be profitting.

With over 75,000 people affected worldwide, the coronavirus has claimed the lives of thousands while harming the Chinese economy. The global panic spread to Israel. There are citizens in quarantine, and entry into the country is restricted. The Health Ministry spent over 100 million shekels so far in an attempt to keep the deadly virus out of Israel.


Businesses Suffering from the Effects of the Coronavirus


In addition to the obvious health concerns, economic fears are prevalent. Many businesses have felt the blow. El-Al is currently estimated to lose $50 million due to the need to stop multiple routes. Flights to China, Hong Kong, Bangkok, and other destinations have been halted. The highly-anticipated launch of El Al’s direct flights to Tokyo was canceled due to the recent outbreak in Japan, which will also result in a considerable loss of revenue.


Other companies feeling the effects of the virus are Israeli manufacturers that depend on raw materials from China. These businesses need to buy elsewhere at considerably higher prices. Delta, Ham-Let, Avgol Nonwoven Industries, Kafrit Industries, and other companies depending on Chinese materials, watched their share prices fall significantly during this period.


Who is Benefitting?


But not everyone is suffering. Surprisingly, the Israel Electric Corporation is saving money. Due to the Coronavirus outbreak, China has halted a lot of production and doesn’t need as much gas. The decreased activity caused a surplus of LNG (liquified natural gas), and Israel is taking advantage. The cheap gas could translate into lower electricity costs, which would benefit Israeli households.


The Haifa port is also benefiting from unexpected profits. Since the coronavirus struck the Diamond Princess cruise ship, the cruise industry took a hit. Ships that expected to spend a significant amount of time in the Far East have changed their plans due to avoid the virus. The Mediterranean coast is the new destination of choice. Last year between November and February, 9,902 people arrived at the Haifa port. This year the number of visitors shot up to 48,295! Currently, a whopping 103,000 tourists are expected to arrive in 2020, compared with 71,370 in 2019 and a mere 27,509 in 2018.


Israeli Innovation to the Rescue!


The outbreak is leading some Israeli startups to fame, and perhaps to fortune. These companies are producing tech to battle the virus and stop it from spreading. Sonovia Ltd, a startup revolutionizing the textile industry, created an anti-bacterial protective fabric to prevent the infection from spreading. The material is currently undergoing tests in China to assess its effectiveness.  Others have jumped on the bandwagon. MeMed Diagnostics is working on technology to assess whether someone has the virus in its early stage. Because the infected individuals are contagious before they have symptoms, a tool for early diagnosis could be lifesaving. Dr. Amos Danielli, an engineering professor at Bar Ilan University, developed a technology for testing the saliva of potentially infected patients. This technology can detect the virus in 15 minutes, a process that currently takes two days.