The death toll from a coronavirus outbreak in mainland China had reached 1,113 as of the end of Tuesday, up by 97 from the previous day, the country’s National Health Commission said on Wednesday. The central Hubei province, the epicentre of the outbreak, reported 94 deaths, while in the provincial capital of Wuhan, 72 people died. Across mainland China, there were 2,015 new confirmed infections on Tuesday, the lowest since January 30. The total accumulated number so far has reached 44,653.
Two deaths have been reported outside mainland China, one in Hong Kong and the other in the Philippines.
China last week amended its guidelines on prevention and control of the coronavirus, saying that only when asymptomatic cases show clinical signs should they be recorded as a confirmed case. However, it is not clear if the government data previously included asymptomatic cases.
The central Hubei province, the epicentre of the outbreak, reported 94 deaths, with 72 of them in its provincial capital of Wuhan.
Here are the latest updates of the deadly coronavirus and its impact:
Coronavirus cases fall, experts disagree whether peak is near
China reported on Wednesday its smallest number of coronavirus cases since January, lending weight to a prediction by its top medical adviser for the outbreak to end by April, but a global infectious diseases expert warned of the spread elsewhere.
Financial markets took heart from the outlook of the Chinese official, epidemiologist Zhong Nanshan, who said on Tuesday the number of new cases was falling in some provinces, and forecast the epidemic would peak this month, even as the death toll in China rose to more than 1,100 people.
But the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the epidemic poses a global threat akin to terrorism and one expert coordinating its response said while the outbreak may be peaking at its epicentre in China, it was likely to spread elsewhere in the world, where it had just begun.
Singapore’s DBS Group evacuates 300 staff, asks to work from home
The coronavirus outbreak rocked Singapore’s financial district after an infection at the country’s biggest bank prompted it to evacuate 300 workers.
DBS Group Holdings Ltd. told employees on Level 43 at its Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 3 headquarters to work from home after a staff member tested positive for the disease. The case is at least the third to strike the business district, where other firms have been sending workers home and setting up temperature-screening checkpoints to stem any further spreading of the deadly disease.
“During this difficult time, the bank will be providing this employee and his family with every support and guidance,” DBS said in a statement Wednesday. “We are also currently conducting detailed contact tracing with all employees and other parties that the infected employee may have come into contact with.” DBS is deep-cleaning and disinfecting the affected office space.
Coronavirus infections on Japan cruise ship leap to 174
Rising infection cases on board a quarantined cruise ship in Japan — likely evidence passengers are spreading the virus to one another — is raising concerns about their safety and sparking anger among the thousands still confined.
There are now 174 infections aboard Carnival Corp.’s Diamond Princess, the largest infection cluster outside China. The surging numbers are fueling concerns that rather than keeping passengers safe, the quarantine is allowing the virus to spread through the ship. There were 39 new cases announced Wednesday, including 10 members of the crew.
-Economists cut China’s growth forecast on coronavirus impact
The outbreak of the coronavirus and China’s efforts to stop the spread mean the economy will grow slower this quarter than first thought, according to economists.
Goldman Sachs Group Inc, UBS Group AG and Macquarie Group Ltd. are among those cutting their growth forecast for both the first quarter and the full year, while others expect material shocks to gross domestic product.
China retreats online to weather coronavirus storm
Virus-phobia has sent hundreds of millions of Chinese flocking to online working options, with schools, businesses, government departments, medical facilities — even museums and zoos — wrapping themselves in the digital cloud for protection.
China remains in crisis mode weeks after the epidemic exploded, with much of the country shut down and the government pushing work-from-home policies to prevent people gathering together.
That has been a boon for telecommuting platforms developed by Chinese tech giants such as Alibaba, Tencent and Huawei, which have suddenly leap to the ranks of China’s most-downloaded apps, leaving them scrambling to cope with the increased demand.
-Britain’s Native Antigen Company introduces novel coronavirus antigens
British-based The Native Antigen Company said on Wednesday that it had introduced novel antigens to deal with the coronavirus afflicting China.
“The Native Antigen Company, one of the world’s leading suppliers of reagents that enables research into vaccines and diagnostics for emerging and endemic infectious diseases, today announced the commercial introduction of its Novel Coronavirus antigens, derived from the emerging Wuhan strain,” it said in a statement.
Thailand refuses entry to cruise ship with no coronavirus cases
Thailand has barred passengers from Holland America’s cruise ship MS Westerdam from disembarking, its health minister said on Tuesday, the latest country to turn it away amid fears of the coronavirus despite no confirmed infections on board.
The Netherlands-flagged ship was sailing west, 96 km (60 miles) off the southern coast of Vietnam on Tuesday morning, according to data from the Marine Traffic ship tracking website.
Number of new coronavirus cases falling: Chinese medical adviser
China’s foremost medical adviser on the outbreak, Zhong Nanshan, said the numbers of new cases were falling in some provinces, and forecast the epidemic would peak this month.
China reported on Wednesday its lowest number of new coronavirus cases since late January, lending weight to a prediction by its senior medical adviser that the outbreak could have ended by April.
Virus hits China’s gold jewelry demand as shoppers stay away
Sales of gold jewelry in China are set to plummet this year as the economic damage from the deadly coronavirus crisis widens.
The death toll from the outbreak has topped 1,100 and shoppers are staying away from public places to avoid infection, while also limiting their spending to basic necessities such as groceries. Jewelry retailers such as Luk Fook Holdings International Ltd. are shortening business hours and managing time off for employees in an effort to prevent the disease from spreading.
Gucci owner flags China virus uncertainties after strong Q4
Gucci owner Kering said on Wednesday the coronavirus epidemic in China could heighten uncertainties for the luxury goods market, as the group posted higher-than-expected sales for the fourth quarter of 2019, helped by its star brand Gucci.
The company said the virus outbreak, which has particularly affected its key Chinese market, could have an impact on “consumption trends and tourism flows, and their ability to affect economic growth.”
Gucci owner Kering flags China virus uncertainties after strong Q4
‘Everyone is guessing’ about coronavirus economic impacts, say experts
Most believe China faces a short but sharper economic shock than originally thought, one that will be felt around the world. Expectations of how harsh the impact will be vary widely, however. Health professionals and economists say opaque Chinese data and lack of precedent hinder clear estimates.
China’s gross domestic product growth in the first quarter could fall to as low as 4%, Nicholas R. Lardy, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, estimated on Tuesday. That compares to Chinese government estimates of 6% annual growth before the virus emerged.
However, if the number of confirmed new coronavirus cases continues to decline, then adverse effect on annual growth will be much smaller, he added.
Analysts from S&P, meanwhile, estimated Tuesday that the virus could lower China’s GDP growth to 5.0% this year, with a peak effect in the first quarter before a rebound begins in the third quarter.
Coronavirus costs Vietnamese airlines $430 million in lost revenue
The coronavirus has cost Vietnamese airlines about 10 trillion dong ($430 million) so far in lost revenues following travel curbs between Vietnam and China, the government said on Wednesday.
Vietnam declared a public health emergency over the epidemic on Feb. 1 and banned all flights to and from China, where more than 1,000 people have died from the virus.
IMF says China can top up stimulus but must focus on reform
China has room to take fiscal stimulus measures if its economy slows further but should not lose sight of structural reforms and steps to address rapid credit growth, a senior International Monetary Fund official said on Wednesday.
Changyong Rhee, director of the IMF’s Asia and Pacific Department, said while it was too early to assess the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on Asian economies, it added to risks to the region’s growth outlook.
“(We) don’t want to deny this event definitely increases the downside risk. Especially the downside risk will be large for countries which have close ties with China,” he told a news conference in Tokyo.
China supports merger of airlines amid outbreak
China’s Civil Aviation Administration said it will support the restructuring of airlines to ease the impact from the coronavirus outbreak.
The administration will also work with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in urging some countries to continue international flights with China.
The coronavirus outbreak has disrupted flights to and from China, one of the world’s busiest travel markets, as airlines around the globe halt service.
Airbnb extends beijing suspension
Airbnb Inc. has extended a freeze on all Beijing business by two months, heeding tightened local regulations aimed at curbing the coronavirus epidemic.
It’s suspending check-ins at all of its listings in the Chinese capital until April 30, instead of the end of February, the San Francisco-based company said in a messaged statement. The US startup has offered refunds to those affected or that cancel their bookings.
Early virus data existed weeks before public release
Preliminary genetic sequence data indicating the presence of a SARS-like virus in central China were known about two weeks before key information was publicly released, scientists said.
In a commentary piece published Tuesday in the Lancet medical journal, scientists, including members of the World Health Organization’s emergency committee, said insufficient attention was paid to information doctors had gathered about the genetic sequence of the novel coronavirus.
Boeing sees airline profits hit, stagnant air cargo market due to virus
The global air cargo industry is unlikely to grow this year because of the challenges in the China market due to the coronavirus, a senior executive at Boeing Co said on Wednesday.
The world’s biggest manufacturer of freighter aircraft had previously forecast air freight would grow by 1% to 2% this year due in part to the United States and China forging an interim trade deal, said Randy Tinseth, vice-president of marketing at Boeing Commercial Airplanes, the commercial division of Boeing.
“That is going to see pressure as well,” he told reporters at the Singapore Airshow, referring to the US-China deal.