Live Updates: Economic Fallout From Coronavirus Grows


Economic fallout from the new coronavirus epidemic continued to spread on Tuesday, with new evidence emerging in manufacturing, financial markets, commodities, banking and other sectors.

HSBC, one of the most important banks in Hong Kong, said it plans to cut 35,000 jobs and $4.5 billion in costs as it faces headwinds that include the coronavirus outbreak and months of political strife in Hong Kong. The bank, based in London, had come to depend increasingly on China for growth.

Jaguar Land Rover warned that the coronavirus could soon begin to create production problems at its assembly plants in Britain. Like many carmakers, Jaguar Land Rover uses parts made in China, where many factories have shut down or slowed production; Fiat Chrysler, Renault and Hyundai have already reported interruptions as a result.

U.S. stocks declined on Tuesday, a day after Apple warned that it would miss its sales forecasts due to disruption in China, as concerns about the impact of the outbreak weighed on the outlook for the global economy.

Stocks tied to the near-term ups and downs of the economy slumped, with energy, financials and industrial shares the leading losers. The S&P 500 index was down 0.5 percent at midafternoon in New York trading.

Bond yields declined, with the 10-year Treasury note yielding 1.55 percent, suggesting investors are lowering their expectations for economic growth and inflation. With much of the Chinese economy stalled, demand for oil has fallen and prices were down on Tuesday, with a barrel of West Texas Intermediate selling for roughly $52.

At least 150 million people in China — over 10 percent of the country’s population — are living under government restrictions on how often they can leave their homes, The New York Times found in examining dozens of local government announcements and reports from state-run news outlets.

More than 760 million Chinese people live in communities that have imposed strictures of some sort on residents’ comings and goings, as officials try to contain the new coronavirus epidemic. That larger figure represents more than half of the country’s population, and roughly one in 10 people on the planet.

China’s restrictions vary widely in their strictness. Neighborhoods in some places require residents only to show ID, sign in and have their temperature checked when they enter. Others prohibit residents from bringing guests.

But in places with more stringent policies, only one person from each household is allowed to leave home at a time, and not necessarily every day. Many neighborhoods have issued paper passes to ensure that residents comply.

In one district in the city of Xi’an, the authorities have stipulated that residents may leave their homes only once every three days to shop for food and other essentials. They also specify that the shopping may not take longer than two hours.

Tens of millions of other people are living in places where local officials have “encouraged” but not ordered neighborhoods to restrict people’s ability to leave their homes.

And with many places deciding their own policies on residents’ movements, it is possible that the total number of affected people is even higher still.

About 500 people will be released on Wednesday from a quarantined cruise ship that has been a hot spot of the outbreak, Japan’s health ministry said on Tuesday, but confusion about the release was widespread.

  • Updated Feb. 10, 2020

    • What is a Coronavirus?
      It is a novel virus named for the crown-like spikes that protrude from its surface. The coronavirus can infect both animals and people, and can cause a range of respiratory illnesses from the common cold to more dangerous conditions like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS.
    • How contagious is the virus?
      According to preliminary research, it seems moderately infectious, similar to SARS, and is possibly transmitted through the air. Scientists have estimated that each infected person could spread it to somewhere between 1.5 and 3.5 people without effective containment measures.
    • How worried should I be?
      While the virus is a serious public health concern, the risk to most people outside China remains very low, and seasonal flu is a more immediate threat.
    • Who is working to contain the virus?
      World Health Organization officials have praised China’s aggressive response to the virus by closing transportation, schools and markets. This week, a team of experts from the W.H.O. arrived in Beijing to offer assistance.
    • What if I’m traveling?
      The United States and Australia are temporarily denying entry to noncitizens who recently traveled to China and several airlines have canceled flights.
    • How do I keep myself and others safe?
      Washing your hands frequently is the most important thing you can do, along with staying at home when you’re sick.

The ministry said 2,404 people on the ship had tested negative for the virus, but it did not say how it had decided who would be allowed to leave on Wednesday, or when others might be released. The ship, the Diamond Princess, has been moored off Yokohama since Feb. 4.

Earlier in the day, the ministry announced that 88 additional cases of coronavirus were confirmed on the ship, bringing the total to 542.

Australia plans to repatriate about 200 of its citizens aboard the ship on Wednesday, and other countries have similar plans, but Japanese officials did not say whether any of those people were among the 500 who would be allowed to disembark.

The release coincides with the expiration of a two-week quarantine imposed on the ship, but it was not clear if that was the reason for letting people go. More than 300 Americans were released this week before that period was completed.

Some public health experts say that the 14-day isolation period makes sense only if it begins with the most recent infection — in other words, new cases mean a continuing risk of exposure and should restart the quarantine clock.

In addition, many infected people have tested negative initially, only to test positive days later, after becoming sick. The Japanese announcement suggested that Japanese people who are released will not be isolated, a decision officials did not explain.

The American passengers who were released were put into 14-day quarantine in the United States. Australia also plans to quarantine people it repatriates.

The British government is taking steps to evacuate its citizens who have been on the Diamond Princess.

Seventy-four British citizens are on the ship, according to the BBC, which said that they are expected to be flown home in the next two or three days. A statement from the Foreign Office on Tuesday suggested that those who have been infected will remain in Japan for treatment.

“Given the conditions on board, we are working to organize a flight back to the U.K. for British nationals on the Diamond Princess as soon as possible,” the Foreign Office said in a statement. “Our staff are contacting British nationals on board to make the necessary arrangements. We urge all those who have not yet responded to get in touch immediately.”

One Briton in particular has been the subject of more attention than most: David Abel, who has been posting updates on Facebook and YouTube while waiting things out in isolation with his wife, Sally.

They both tested positive for the virus and would be taken to the hospital, he has said. But his most recent Facebook post suggested that all was not as it seemed.

“Frankly I think this is a setup! We are NOT being taken to a hospital but a hostel,” He wrote. “No phone, no Wi-Fi and no medical facilities. I really am smelling a very big rat here!”

An analysis of 44,672 coronavirus patients in China whose diagnoses were confirmed by laboratory testing has found that 1,023 had died by Feb. 11 — a fatality rate of 2.3 percent. Figures released on a daily basis suggest the rate has increased in recent days.

That is far higher than the mortality rate of the seasonal flu, with which the new coronavirus has sometimes been compared. In the United States, seasonal flu fatality rates hover around 0.1 percent.

The new analysis was posted online by researchers at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Over all, about 81 percent of patients with confirmed diagnoses experienced mild illness, the researchers found. Nearly 14 percent had severe cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, and about 5 percent had critical illnesses.

Thirty percent of those who died were in their 60s, 30 percent were in their 70s and 20 percent were age 80 or older. Though men and women were roughly equally represented among the confirmed cases, men made up nearly 64 percent of the deaths. Patients with underlying medical conditions, like cardiovascular disease or diabetes, died at higher rates.

The fatality rate among patients in Hubei Province, the center of China’s outbreak, was more than seven times higher than that of other provinces.

China on Tuesday announced new figures for the outbreak. The number of cases was put at 72,436 — up 1,888 from the day before — and the death toll now stands at 1,868, up 98, the authorities said.

Xi Jinping, China’s leader, told Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain in a phone call on Tuesday that China was making “visible progress” in containing the epidemic, according to Chinese state media.

The director of a hospital in Wuhan, the Chinese city at the center of the epidemic, died on Tuesday after contracting the new coronavirus, the latest in a series of medical professionals to be killed in the epidemic.

Liu Zhiming, 51, a neurosurgeon and the director of the Wuchang Hospital in Wuhan, died shortly before 11 a.m. on Tuesday, the Wuhan health commission said.

“From the start of the outbreak, Comrade Liu Zhiming, without regard to his personal safety, led the medical staff of Wuchang Hospital at the front lines of the fight against the epidemic,” the commission said. Dr. Liu “made significant contributions to our city’s fight to prevent and control the novel coronavirus.”

Chinese medical workers at the forefront of the fight against the virus are often becoming its victims, partly because of government missteps and logistical hurdles. After the virus emerged in Wuhan late last year, city leaders played down its risks, and doctors did not take the strongest precautions.

Last week the Chinese government said that more than 1,700 medical workers had contracted the virus, and six had died.

The death nearly two weeks ago of Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist who was initially reprimanded for warning medical school classmates about the virus, stirred an outpouring of grief and anger. Dr. Li, 34, has emerged as a symbol of how the authorities controlled information and have moved to stifle online criticism and aggressive reporting on the outbreak.

With just 42 cases of the coronavirus confirmed in Europe, the continent faces a far less serious outbreak than China, where tens of thousands have contracted the virus. But the people and places associated with the illness have faced a stigma as a result, and fear of the virus is, itself, proving contagious.

A British man who tested positive for coronavirus was branded a “super spreader,” his every movement detailed by the local media.

Business plummeted at a French ski resort identified as the scene of several transmissions of the virus.

And after some employees of a German car company were diagnosed with the virus, the children of other workers were turned away from schools, despite negative test results.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the World Health Organization, warned last weekend of the dangers of letting fear outpace facts.

“We must be guided by solidarity, not stigma,” Dr. Tedros said in a speech at the Munich Security Conference, adding that fear could hamper global efforts to combat the virus. “The greatest enemy we face is not the virus itself; it’s the stigma that turns us against each other.”

The Philippines has lifted its travel ban on citizens…


Read more…