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Economic impact of Ebola making itself felt

Economic impact of Ebola making itself felt
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News that the Ebola virus has spread within Europe – to a nurse in Spain – caused a further sell off of airline and travel company shares on Wednesday.

Investors are concerned about reduced passenger demand and airlines being hit with additional costs for screening travellers.

Market analyst Alastair McCaig with IG said: “The fact that we’ve had Ebola cases now inside Spain, there seems to be maybe not quite so stringent controls over the handling of this as there might otherwise have been, has seen markets be a little more spooked than they might otherwise have been.”

The potential costs for hospitals are huge.

Thomas Eric Duncan – the Liberian national who died in Texas – did not have health insurance and experts calculate his treatment cost as much as $24,000 (19,000 euros) a day.

He went to the Dallas hospital on September 25, but was initially sent home with antibiotics. His condition worsened, he returned on September 28 by ambulance and was then diagnosed with Ebola.

Civil rights advocate Jesse Jackson, who is advising Duncan’s family, said he would probably have had better initial treatment if he had been insured: “I would tend to think that those who do not have insurance, who do not have medicaid do not have the same priorities as those who do.”

Shares of biotech companies linked to the development of treatments against Ebola reacted sharply on Wednesday to Duncan’s death.

Shares in Chimerix, whose experimental Ebola drug was being administered to Duncan, tumbled 9.5 percent.

US-traded shares of Tekmira Pharmaceuticals, whose treatment has been used on other Ebola patients, sharply pared losses, briefly turning positive after having fallen as much as 8.8 percent earlier.

Liberia, where Duncan came from, is one of several West African countries suffering major economic damage because of measures like the suspension of most international flights.

The government says with many major investors in mining and agriculture fleeing because of Ebola, economic growth will almost halt.

The World Bank says the regional impact of the epidemic could reach $32.6 billion (25.7 billion euros) by the end of next year if it spreads significantly beyond the worst-hit countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

“The enormous economic cost of the current outbreak to the affected countries and the world could have been avoided by prudent ongoing investment in health systems-strengthening,” World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said in a statement.

with Reuters