Latest Coronavirus News: Is it a growing pandemic and what are the effects on the economy?

Italy reports 7 dead, 229 infected as Europe braces for COVID-19. Economic concerns growing amid slod down of travel and effects of closing local business.

• Italy reports seventh coronavirus death as it becomes worst-hit country in Europe

• WHO: Not yet a pandemic, but countries need to prepare

• Number of coronavirus deaths in China passes 2,600

• Dow closes down 1,000 points on fears of coronavirus

• Two more doctors die of coronavirus in China

• More than 800 confirmed cases, 8 dead in South Korea

• China postpones key political meeting because of virus

• China bans illegal wild animal trading amid coronavirus outbreak: state media

• Coronavirus deaths spike to 12 in Iran; 47 cases confirmed

The number of deaths in mainland China linked to the coronavirus illness COVID-19 passed 2,600 as of Tuesday local time, with more than 77,600 confirmed cases, China’s national health commission said.

The number of deaths on mainland China is now at 2,663, according to the health commission. It had previously reported 2,592 deaths.

There was an increase of 71 deaths, almost all of them in Hubei province, which is at the center of the outbreak and where the city of Wuhan is located. There have been deaths in other countries, including 12 in Iran, 8 in South Korea and seven in Italy, according to health officials.

The World Health Organization has played down fears of a coronavirus pandemic sweeping the world, despite sudden serious outbreaks in Italy and Iran, but some experts said they believed it was now inevitable. While WHO says virus still containable, sudden cases in Iran and Italy causing alarm

“Using the word pandemic now does not fit the facts, but it may certainly cause fear,” said the WHO’s director general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, at a briefing.

We are not there yet, said Tedros. “What we see are epidemics in different parts of the world affecting different countries in different ways.”

The word pandemic is used to describe a serious disease that is spreading in an uncontrolled way around the world. China, he pointed out, appeared to have contained it. The international team sent in by the WHO, which is about to report its findings, has said the virus probably peaked between 23 January and 2 February.

Tedros added, however, that “the sudden increase in new cases is certainly very concerning”.

Experts warn world ‘grossly unprepared’ for future pandemics

Most worrying is the arrival of the coronavirus in Italy and Iran with no prior warning, presumably spread by people who were asymptomatic carriers. Italy now has 219 cases and seven people have died. The figures in Iran are disputed, but some reports claimed there had been 50 deaths in the city of Qom, which is a pilgrimage site.

“A pandemic means an infectious disease is spreading out of control in different regions of the world. We already have a Covid-19 epidemic in China and, more recently, large outbreaks in South Korea, Iran and Italy. If those outbreaks cannot be brought under control, then Covid-19 would fit the criteria of a pandemic,” said Mark Woolhouse, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh.

“The immediate implication is that many different countries around the world may be sources of Covid-19 infections. This makes it much harder for any one country to detect and contain imported cases and trying to do so will place ever greater demands on national health systems.

Tedros said the new cases outside China reinforced the need for all countries to ensure they were ready for the arrival of Covid-19. “This is the time for all countries, communities and families and individuals to focus on preparing,” he said. “We do not live in a binary black and white world. It is not either/or. We must focus on containing while doing all we can to prepare for a potential pandemic.”


Dow plunges on fears coronavirus will tank global economic growth.

Wall Street was rocked in a volatile trading session on Monday that ended with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing down 1,031 points — the worst day in two years for the blue-chip index, as fears increased over the global economic shock of coronavirus.

While the virus has already stalled the travel industry, shuttered factories in several countries, and slammed luxury goods retailers, casino operators, and tech companies, Monday's market response represented concern that stricter methods to control the spread of the virus would further throttle supply chains — and that the virus is getting closer to home.

Stocks in Asia stabilize after Monday’s drop.

Asian markets signaled a calmer outlook after Monday’s sharp drop in stocks.Japan’s Nikkei 225 index was down 3 percent on Tuesday morning after missing Monday’s stock rout, as markets there were closed for a holiday. But shares in China and Hong Kong were down only modestly in early trading, and shares in South Korea rose. Hong Kong was down less than 0.2 percent, and stocks in Shanghai were down less than 1 percent.As fears rose on Monday that the outbreak could spread further into Asia and Europe, investors sold stocks at a furious pace.

The S&P 500 index, which had reached a record high just last week, fell 3.4 percent on Monday, its worst single-day performance in more than two years. Stocks fell enough to wipe out all of the index’s gains for 2020. Earlier in the day, European markets recorded their worst day since 2016, and major benchmarks in Asia also closed down.Airline and technology stocks were particularly hard hit by Monday’s decline. Delta Air Lines fell 6.3 percent and American Airlines was down 8.5 percent, while shares of Apple fell 4.8 percent. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index dropped 3.7 percent.

Analysts have issued new warnings in recent days that the outbreak could drag down economies around the globe. Economists at JPMorgan Chase wrote that they expected global growth to slow to a 1 percent annual pace in the first quarter, which would be the weakest quarter of the economic expansion that began after the deep recession that started in 2008. In the United States, the general estimate for first-quarter domestic growth has slipped.

An ominous quiet descends on Milan, Italy’s business engine.

Milan’s normally bustling streets, stores and restaurants are eerily empty. In Italy’s commercial hub, major companies, from banks to the fashion house Giorgio Armani, are telling employees to work at home.

The doors are closed to visitors at the famed opera house La Scala, the Duomo Cathedral — even the bars.

“Everything seems to have completely stopped,” said Leonardo Miri, 48, an IBM employee. He had been turned away from the company’s offices. No one was there.

Amid stock market decline, a notable rise: Gilead, maker of a possible coronavirus treatment.

Shares of the American pharmaceutical giant Gilead gained about 5 percent on Monday, after a senior World Health Official identified one of its antiviral drugs, remdesivir, as a potential treatment for the coronavirus Covid-19.

“There is only one drug right now that we think may have real efficacy and that’s remdesivir,” said Dr. Bruce Aylward, a Canadian doctor and an epidemiologist who is leading the W.H.O. mission to China. He spoke at a news conference in Beijing.

Doctors and drug manufacturers are scrambling to find treatments for the virus, but so far, none have been approved, including remdesivir.

Gilead’s drug is an antiviral medicine that is administered intravenously. It has been tested on only a small number of patients with coronavirus, according to the company’s website. But there has been excitement about it since doctors in Washington State administered the drug to the first U.S. coronavirus patient, and his symptoms improved the next day.

Two clinical trials of the drug are enrolling participants in China. One focuses on patients with severe cases, the other on those with moderate cases, according to Ryan McKeel, a Gilead spokesman.

Mr. McKeel said that the company was donating doses of the drug for the trials, and that results were expected in April.

Airlines in Asia-Pacific stand to lose $27.8 bn in coronavirus crisis. Airlines operating in the Asia-Pacific region stand to lose a combined $27.8 billion of revenue this year in the ongoing coronavirus crisis, the International Air Transport Association said on Thursday.

The estimate is based on projections of a 13-percent full-year decline in passenger demand, mostly in China, the trade body said in a statement.

IATA said its estimate assumed that COVID-19 behaves like a SARS outbreak nearly two decades ago, which was "characterised by a six-month period with a sharp decline followed by an equally quick recovery".

Airlines in China's domestic market alone are estimated to lose around $12.8 billion in revenues.

A note to the many expats and global citizens as well as members of Xpats we wish all of you health and safe travels for all. Please ensure to use the necessary travel precautions and watch out for the restrictions on travel at all times to avoid delays and canceled flights. Please follow the tips we have published here SAFE PRECAUTIONS FOR EXPAT TRAVELERS

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