Coronavirus deaths in China top 1,000 as investors seek safety in gold, dollars

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This photo taken on February 9, 2020 shows people wearing protective masks buying meat in Hangzhou in China's eastern Zhejiang province. (AFP)
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Customers wearing face masks shop inside a supermarket following an outbreak of the novel coronavirus in Wuhan, Hubei province, China February 10, 2020. (REUTERS)
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Passengers wear protective masks while they wait for Light Rail Transit train at a station, following the outbreak of the new coronavirus in China, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, February 10, 2020. (REUTERS)
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Updated 11 February 2020

Coronavirus deaths in China top 1,000 as investors seek safety in gold, dollars

  • The Diamond Princess cruise ship with 3,700 passengers and crew on board remained quarantined in the Japanese port of Yokohama, with 65 more cases detected, taking the number of confirmed cases from the Carnival Corp-owned vessel to 135

BEIJING/GENEVA: The death toll in China climbed above 1,000, as the World Health Organization (WHO) cautioned that the spread of cases outside of China could be “the spark that becomes a bigger fire” and said the human race must not let the epidemic get out of control.
Hubei province, the epicenter out the outbreak, reported 103 deaths on Monday — the most in any single day — after 91 deaths on Sunday. But the 2,097 new cases was down from the previous day, when there were 2,618.
It is not the first time new cases have fallen. Hubei reported 2,841 cases on Feb. 7 and 2,147 the next day.
There are now over 42,000 confirmed cases in China as well as 319 cases in 24 other countries, including one death, according to WHO and Chinese health officials.
The Diamond Princess cruise ship with 3,700 passengers and crew on board remained quarantined in the Japanese port of Yokohama, with 65 more cases detected, taking the number of confirmed cases from the Carnival Corp-owned vessel to 135.
As scientists race to develop tests and treatments, the WHO says 168 labs globally have the right technology to diagnose the virus. Companies have been struggling to find clinical virus samples needed to validate the diagnostic tests they have developed.
Worries about the coronavirus kept investors on edge with safe-havens like gold rising and the dollar hitting a four-month high against the euro on Monday.
In Europe, shares in car companies exposed to China slumped, while prices of oil, iron ore and copper fell on worries over weaker Chinese demand because of the outbreak.
Wall Street rose on optimism for corporate earnings and the economy, with the Nasdaq hitting a record high.
British Airways canceled all its flights to mainland China until the end of March.
Wu Fan, vice-dean of Shanghai Fudan University Medical school, said there was hope of a turning point in the outbreak. But WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday there had been “concerning instances” of transmission from people who had not been to China.
“It could be the spark that becomes a bigger fire,” Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva.
An advance team of international WHO experts arrived in China to investigate the outbreak. Its death toll has now surpassed that of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which killed hundreds worldwide in 2002/2003.

NERVOUS COMMUTERS
Chinese cities have become virtual ghost towns after Communist Party rulers ordered lockdowns, canceled flights and closed factories and schools.
Ten extra days had been added to the Lunar New Year holidays that had been due to finish at the end of January to help slow the virus’ spread. Even on Monday, many workplaces remained closed as people worked from home.
Few commuters braved the morning rush-hour on one of Beijing’s busiest subway lines. All wore masks.
One Beijing government official, Zhang Gewho, said it would be harder to curb the spread of the virus as people returned to work. “The capacity of communities and flow of people will greatly increase the difficulty,” he said.
Hubei, the province of 60 million people hardest hit by the outbreak, remains in virtual lockdown, with its train stations and airports shut and roads sealed.
China’s central bank has taken steps to support the economy, including reducing interest rates and flushing the market with liquidity, and will also now provide special funds for banks to lend to businesses.
President Xi Jinping said the government would prevent large-scale layoffs, Chinese state television reported.
Xi was shown on television inspecting the work of community leaders in Beijing and wearing a mask as he had his temperature taken. He said China would strive to meet economic and social targets for the year.
One senior economist has said growth may slow to 5% or less in the first quarter.
More than 300 Chinese firms including Meituan Dianping , China’s largest food delivery company, and smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp. were seeking loans totalling at least 57.4 billion yuan ($8.2 billion), banking sources said.
E-commerce firm Alibaba said its affiliate, Ant Financial’s MYBank unit, would offer 20 billion yuan ($2.86 billion) in loans to companies in China, with preferential terms for Hubei firms.
Apple’s biggest iPhone maker, Foxconn, won approval to resume production in the eastern central Chinese city of Zhengzhou, but only 10% of the workforce managed to return, a source said. Foxconn, formally Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. Ltd. , won approval to resume partial production in the southern city of Shenzhen from Tuesday.
A prolonged and widespread coronavirus outbreak could hit the Japanese economy, affecting tourism, retail and exports, an International Monetary Fund official said. Canada said the outbreak will hit tourism and its oil industry.

 


East China cities quarantine arrivals as virus spreads in S. Korea, Japan

Commuters wearing protective face masks amid fears of the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus ride an elevated train in Bangkok. (AFP)
Updated 26 February 2020

East China cities quarantine arrivals as virus spreads in S. Korea, Japan

  • South Korea has reported 10 deaths and almost 1,000 infections, while Japan has 159 confirmed cases, not including 691 on a cruise ship that was quarantined near Tokyo

BEIJING: The eastern Chinese city of Qingdao is imposing a 14-day quarantine on all arrivals, state media reported on Tuesday, as China moves to address the threat of a rise in coronavirus cases in neighboring South Korea and nearby Japan.
People with suspected virus symptoms arriving in Qingdao, a major Northeast Asian transport hub in Shandong province, should be isolated in designated hospitals, while others are required to stay at their residences or designated hotels, the official Xinhua news agency said.
The rule came into force on Monday, Xinhua added, citing a local government statement.
“Apparently 100,000 South Koreans live in Qingdao, and there are normally over 300 flights a week between Seoul and Qingdao,” Michael Pettis, a finance professor at Peking University, said on Twitter. “This is likely to be disruptive to both economies.”
Another Shandong city, Weihai, said it would quarantine arrivals from Japan and South Korea from Tuesday — the first country-specific compulsory quarantine requirement by China, which has criticized travel restrictions implemented by other countries.
The measures comes as the virus, which started in China’s Hubei province, takes hold beyond the country.
South Korea has reported 10 deaths and almost 1,000 infections, while Japan has 159 confirmed cases, not including 691 on a cruise ship that was quarantined near Tokyo.
Weihai is also home to a sizeable Korean expatriate community. It lies near the eastern tip of the Shandong peninsula across the Yellow Sea from South Korea, and its quarantine rules apply both to Chinese and foreign nationals arriving in the city.
They will be put up in hotels free of charge for a 14-day quarantine period, according to a notice on the city’s official Wechat account.

HIGHLIGHTS

● Qingdao imposes 14-day quarantine on all arrivals.

● Shandong city Weihai singles out S. Korea, Japan arrivals.

● S. Korea has almost 1,000 cases; Japan cases up.

People who arrived in Weihai from South Korea or Japan from Feb. 10 onwards have already been contacted by the Weihai government, the statement said, adding it had “appropriately handled” cases of fever.
The government of a third Shandong port city, Yantai, on Tuesday said all business travelers and short-term visitors should stay in designated hotels.
Further north in China’s Liaoning province, the city of Liaoning — home to both North Korean and South Korean communities — is tightening screening of inbound passengers and will check the temperature of all arrivals, state broadcaster CCTV reported.
Sweden’s health agency said it would not introduce airport controls that take up resources but are “ineffective” because infected people may not show symptoms.
Ukraine International Airlines onboard personnel will wear rubber gloves and masks on flights from Italy.
Meanwhile, the drugmaker Moderna has shipped a potential coronavirus vaccine for humans to government researchers for testing.
Shares of the biotech company soared, a day after the company said it sent vials to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for early-stage testing in the US.