GENEVA / BEIJING (Reuters) – He hopes that coronavirus will be contained in China by fading away on Friday, as infections spread rapidly around the world, countries have started to accumulate medical equipment and investors have taken off in anticipation of a global recession. .
People wearing masks line up to buy masks in a pharmacy in Tokyo, Japan on February 28, 2020. REUTERS / Issei Kato
Share prices were on track for the worst week after the global financial crisis in 2008, as virus-related outages to international travel and supply chains fueled fears of recession in the U.S. and eurozone.
The US stock market fell into correction territory with the reference S&P 500 down more than 4% on Thursday, extending a market route which has now cut the closing peak on February 19 by more than 10%. Asian headlines on Friday followed Wall Dive the Road.
“The coronavirus now looks like a pandemic. Markets can cope even if there is a big risk as long as we can see the end of the tunnel, “said Norihiro Fujito, chief investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.
“But at the moment, nobody can say how long it will last and how serious it will be.”
Mainland China, where the virus was born late last year, reported 327 new cases on Friday, the lowest since January 23.
But with new infections reported worldwide that are now surpassing those in China, the director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said nations should prepare.
“This virus has pandemic potential,” said Tedros. “This is not the time for fear. This is the time to take action to prevent infection and save lives now. ”
A Reuters count showed that around 10 countries reported their first virus cases in the past 24 hours, including Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country and the first case in sub-Saharan Africa.
US investment bank BofA has reduced its global growth forecast to the lowest level since the peak of the financial crisis, and rating agency Moody said that a coronavirus pandemic would cause global and U.S. recessions in the first half of the year .
In addition to stockpiling medicines, governments have ordered schools to close and large gatherings, including sporting events, to try to stop the spread of the flu-like disease known as COVID-19.
The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump was considering invoking special powers to rapidly expand U.S. production of protective equipment, two officials told Reuters.
In Europe, the number of reported cases in France has doubled, Germany has warned of an impending epidemic and Greece, a gateway for refugees from the Middle East, has announced more stringent border controls.
“We have a crisis ahead of us. An epidemic is coming, “said French President Emmanuel Macron.
The death toll in Italy, the most affected country in Europe, rose to 17 on Thursday and the number of people who proved positive for the disease increased by over 200 to 650. Germany has around 27 cases, France around 18 and Spain 15.
Tedros told reporters in Geneva that Iran, Italy and South Korea have reached a “decisive point” in their efforts to prevent a broader outbreak.
South Korea, which has the largest number of cases outside China, reported 256 new infections on Friday, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 2,022.
Korean Air Lines Co Ltd (003490.KS) said it will control the temperature of passengers traveling to the United States and would not allow anyone above 37.5 degrees Celsius (99.5 degrees Fahrenheit) to fly. One of his flight attendants who worked on Seoul-Los Angeles flights tested positive.
The country’s main airline said it had plans to extend these procedures to other routes.
There is particular concern about a case in Japan where a woman tested positive for the virus for the second time. Second positive tests have also been reported in China and could imply that the contraction of the disease does not confer immunity.
Scientists have warned that much remains unknown about the virus, including surface survival time.
Hong Kong quarantined a pet dog of a coronavirus patient after showing “weak positive” results for the virus, even if it showed no symptoms. Further tests would be conducted to confirm whether the dog had been infected.
The director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Robert Redfield, said the agency is evaluating how long the coronavirus could be contagious on surfaces.
“It’s quite typical on copper and steel, it lasts about 2 hours,” Redfield said at a hearing in the House of Representatives. “But I’ll say on other surfaces – cardboard or plastic – it’s longer, and so we’re looking at this.”
He said surface infections instead of through the air could have contributed to the outbreak of the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan, where around 700 passengers and crew members took the disease.
FUTURE OF TOKYO OLYMPICS
Japan will host the 2020 Olympics in July, but the WHO emergency program leader, dr. Mike Ryan said that discussions will be held with the organizers on whether to proceed.
Coronavirus has devastated aviation and tourism worldwide, as airlines cancel flights, countries ban visitors from accessing hot spots, and nervous passengers postpone travel.
California Inc, based in California (FB.O) said it would cancel its annual developer and Microsoft Corp conference (MSFT.O) followed suit by withdrawing from a game conference scheduled for next month.
WHO’s Ryan said Iran’s outbreak could be worse than expected. It suffered the highest death toll outside China, with 26 deaths from 245 reported cases.
US intelligence agencies are monitoring the spread of coronavirus, including in Iran and India, according to reports from known sources.
So far, the virus has mainly affected China, causing nearly 80,000 infections and nearly 2,800 deaths, according to official Chinese data. It has spread to 46 other countries, where about 3,700 cases and 57 deaths have been reported, according to WHO.
There is no cure for coronavirus, which can lead to pneumonia and the development of a vaccine can take up to 18 months.
Global interactive graphic spread of the coronavirus: here
Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva and Ryan Woo in Beijing, Sudip Kar-Gupta and Michel Rose in Paris, Crispian Balmer and Gavin Jones in Rome, Lisa Lambert and Mark Hosenball in Washington, Matthias Inverardi in Duesseldorf, Marius Zaharia in Hong Kong, Amal S, Ayanti Bera and Rama Venkat in Bangalore, Katie Paul, Stephen Nellis and Paresh Dave in San Francisco; Written by Stephen Coates; Editing by Michael Perry