Ken SubediKen Subedi What is the impact of corona virus in the translation industry?March 18, 2020

What is the impact of corona virus in the translation industry?

At the end of December , Chinese health officials informed the World Health Organization (WHO) about an unknown virus  which was spreading rapidly in the city of Wuhan. Two weeks later the scientists determined that it was a corona virus (also known as COVID-19) . The virus continued to spread from the mainland of China and now has affected the entire globe . On 11th March 2020 , the WHO declared  COVID – 19  a pandemic . As per WHO till this date , there are more than 118,000 cases of coronavirus seen in 114 countries with more than 4000 deaths . The impact of corona virus seems to be increasing day per day as more number of victims are reported every hour .

As the virus continues to spread, various precautions are being taken all around the world . Due to the threat of corona virus , mass gatherings  are being avoided  and public places are being closed . Even offices have started asking employees to work from  home in order to avoid spreading infection . In such scenario , we can safely assume that every industry in the world is being affected in one way or the other . But what about the translation industry ? The kind of work that can be done quite comfortably by sitting in home . How much is it suffering ? Or is it not ?

Corona virus impact

Heavy drop in business due to the spread of corona virus

In China  , where the virus originated the businesses have suffered heavy losses .It is reported that there has been a 50% drop in businesses across China and Taiwan including the translation business . Globally , as all the industries take a hit due to the pandemic , translation businesses especially for the promotion and marketing have suffered the most . As international events , cultural gatherings , music festivals ,trade shows, educational conferences are getting cancelled , the work in terms of creating promotional leaflets , translating texts and banners  for advertising  are taking a nosedive .A lot of translation jobs are now at hold and many translators have not been paid . The request for translation in general has dropped rapidly  .

After mainland China , Europe has been the most affected region of the corona virus . Italy has been in a state of lock-down and will continue to do this at least till March 25,2020 . In the meantime , Italian member association of FIT Europe , a  branch of International Federation of Translators has made a joint appeal to support 5000 translators as they have incurred loss of more than 10 million US dollars in just one month and if the situation doesn’t change these losses will continue .

Work from home

Similarly in neighboring countries like Poland and Brazil the impact of corona virus can be seen clearly.Most of the public offices have been closed to the public and work is being done mostly from indoors . But due to the reason that clients cannot fly in and mail from abroad cannot be delivered , the prearranged deals are getting new deadlines and the translators now have to come up with different strategies to finish the pending work . Some of the translators  themselves are in sick leave/quarantine whereas some are busy taking care of their family members . Thus there is chaos with in the translation sector not only due to the work reduction but also due to the lack of human resources to meet urgent deadlines .

Some hope for the translation sector

But for translation industry , there is still some light within this darkness . For example : The medical translation jobs have seen growth in the hospitals due to the corona virus . And even though it is difficult to find new works in regards to translations , the ongoing projects still can be done as usual .But the brighter side here is for the subtitle and game translation . It is speculated that these jobs won’t be affected in a very large scale . The news regarding the day to day update of the virus has to be circulated globally in all the kinds of languages so some translation jobs  regarding news update , awareness campaigns and  medical terminologies are going  fine .

However , the impact of corona virus in the translation sector is being felt most by the freelancers  who do not  have enough work to feed their families . If this crisis isn’t solved soon then  it will be devastating for the freelance translators who are heavily dependent upon freelance translation income .