Friday, April 3Serving the aftermarket
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Coronavirus – an alternative view

Even if you are not suffering from the coronavirus (COVID-19), you may be suffering with your mental health. It’s natural – everywhere you look there is doom and gloom. News channels are constantly reporting numbers, social media is going mad with rumours, and shop shelves are emptying at an alarming rate.

Personal experience

I understand how the news surrounding COVID-19 can affect you. You may think that being an automotive journalist, I would not need to have in-depth knowledge of the situation, but you would be wrong. In fact, I’ve been tracking this since December last year, when it first came to the attention of the World Health Organisation (WHO).

You see, China is responsible for a large majority of the automotive supply chain, and Wuhan in particular is home to many manufacturing plants. Remembering the impact the Japanese Tsunami in 2011 had, just by wiping out a factory that made a certain paint pigment, I knew the car market would suffer from a prolonged outbreak. 

So, I’ve been tracking COVID-19, immersing myself in numbers, news and announcements, for three months. I never expected it to get to this situation, but as things snowballed, I’ve found it difficult to keep a level head. There really is a lot of doom and gloom out there. So for those who look at the news and wonder what may happen in the coming weeks and months, I appreciate how difficult that is. But there is hope…

Positive thoughts

First and foremost – if you are struggling with your mental health, then talk to the automotive industry charity Ben. They have a wealth of information available covering a range of mental and financial health issues, all of which can be found by following this link.

Secondly, being immersed in the numbers has led me to this website – https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/#countries – which is tracking the global outbreak and laying it out country by country. What you will notice is China, the epicentre of the outbreak, now has fewer active cases than Italy, Iran, Spain and Germany. From 80,894, there are now just over 8,000 people infected. In fact, while news channels report that cases have gone over 210,000, there are only 119,697 people still infected – at the time of writing.

China is getting back on its feet. Children are back at school, factories are opening, life is slowly returning to normal, albeit with some major precautions still in place. Considering the outbreak really hit its stride in the country at the start of February, it’s taken six weeks to get to this point. 

Now I’m not saying that in six weeks’ time the situation will be as it was before all this. But it is likely that things will peak and hopefully life can slowly start to get back to normal in the next couple of months, if not sooner. Various reports have suggested lockdowns in the UK for three months, with the possibility that draconian measures could remain in place for another year, or until a vaccine is developed. It is possible – but as it is possible that by the end of April, we will see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Business thoughts

Of course, no business can close for six-weeks and expect no impact on finances, and no employees can expect things to get back to normal so quickly. But there are measures in place. The UK Government has announced support for businesses, and I am sure many garage owners are currently looking at what they can do to achieve this help. 

I know many are currently fixing as many vehicles as possible, while others are offering a collection service for customers who are self-isolating. Carmakers are keeping their servicing departments open, and maintenance is essential, and will continue to be so for months and years after we get through this.

But again, if you are struggling, I urge you to contact Ben and talk with someone. Most importantly of all, stay safe, and be kind.