It is almost impossible to think that a conversation with the word coronavirus in it could contain any fragments of hope. But a phone call to Albert Louw, the marketing manager for the 90-year-old Lasher Tools, proves the exception.

As factories across China, the origin of the Covid-19 illness, closed, the world’s supply chains have frozen up, and companies everywhere have scrambled to find other sources of everything from clothes to pharmaceutical ingredients.

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