Interview - Coronavirus outbreak 'just beginning' outside China, says expert

Grant Boone
February 12, 2020

Hubei, where the flu-like virus emerged from a wildlife market in the provincial capital of Wuhan in December, reported 2,097 new cases and 103 new deaths on February 10, its health authority said.

Singapore has 47 cases.

Kenneth Mak, director of medical services at Singapore's health ministry, told a news conference it was hard to be confident in projections that the epidemic will peak in China this month but, in any case, peaks in other countries will lag China by one or two months.

Total cases of the new coronavirus in China have now hit 44,653, according to Chinese health officials, including 2,015 new confirmed cases on February 11.

There has been no case of the new coronavirus detected in Saudi Arabia so far, the kingdom's Health ministry confirmed on Tuesday.

Explain that hundreds of cases of corona virus have been reported in dozens of countries and regions around the world, with the deadliest cases being reported from Hong Kong and the Philippines.

The number killed on the mainland rose by 97 to 1,113 by the end of Tuesday.

But doubts have been aired on social media about how reliable the data is, after the government last week amended guidelines on classification. Japanese officials on Wednesday said another 39 people had tested positive for the virus, bringing the total to 175.

Zhong, the respiratory expert, said on Tuesday that greater efforts are still needed in Wuhan to identify cases and quarantine them as early as possible to prevent spread of the disease.

St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard said China's economy was expected to "slow noticeably" in the first quarter and anyone pricing assets should for now consider the "tail risk" that the outbreak could get worse.

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The mall was busy with shoppers on a long weekend for the Buddhist Makha Bucha holiday. Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said more than 31 others were injured.

Thailand said it had barred passengers from getting off another ship, Holland America Line's MS Westerdam, even though no confirmed infections have been found on board. "But each day, that becomes a little bit more hard, when country after country rejects us".

Global markets took heart from the outlook but other worldwide experts remain alarmed by the spread of the flu-like virus, which has killed more than 1,100 people, all but two in mainland China, and said optimism could be premature.

"We are concerned that global markets thus far appear to be significantly underestimating the extent of disruption", they said in a note.

The epidemic was a "big test of China's governance system and capabilities" and said some officials were still "dropping the ball" in places where it was most severe.

China's censors had allowed criticism of local officials but have begun cracking down on reporting of the outbreak, issuing reprimands to tech firms that gave free rein to online speech, Chinese journalists said.

As the number of confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) has surged to over 40,000, some families have been split up as disease carriers and suspected cases need to be quarantined to combat the spread of the virus.

The city of 11 million people remains under virtual lockdown.

Travel restrictions that have paralysed the world's second-biggest economy have left Wuhan and other Chinese cities resembling ghost towns.

With companies laying off workers and supply chains disrupted from the auto industry to smartphones, China's economy is taking a big hit.

The likely slowdown in China could shave 0.1 to 0.2 percentage points off both euro zone and British growth this year, credit rating agency S&P Global estimated.

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