So much for hopes for containment.
After praising China’s efforts to contain the virus, the WHO Director General announced that the emergency committee would delay its decision on whether to declare the coronavirus a major health emergency of international concern because the committee wants “more information,” as noted by Zero Hedge.
Unfortunately, as WHO waits, the situation is escalating.
Markets are sliding after China quarantined two cities (one with 11 million, another with six million people). Deaths from the virus are now up to 17 with nearly 600 cases confirmed. Hong Kong also just reported its second confirmed case of the virus, as well.
As a result of the outbreak, Beijing also just joined Wuhan and Macau in canceling the Lunar New Year celebrations. In fact, according to CNBC’s Eunice Yoon, “China capital’s culture & tourism bureau says all public gathering activities, incl. traditional temple fairs are off. (Holiday is normally major consumer spending time.”
Analysts at Soc Gen note, “Markets have become concerned about the outbreak of the coronavirus in Wuhan. Clearly, there is still considerable uncertainty as to how the situation will evolve. However, the SARS epidemic in 2003, which lasted for nine months and infected over 5,000 people in China, should be a useful reference for the potential economic impact this time. Drawing from the SARS lesson, if the situation has failed to stabilize by March, 1Q GDP growth will likely fall below 6%, compared with our current forecast of 6.1%. Undoubtedly, consumption and tourism-related sectors would be most affected,” as quoted by Zero Hedge.
So far, the virus has hit China, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and Thailand.
“The virus is mainly transmitted through the respiratory tract,” Li Bin, vice minister of China’s National Health Commission, which oversees the bureau, said at a Wednesday news conference of a health expert panel in Beijing.
“It may mutate and there is risk of further spread. “We have ensured management of export channels such as temperature checks at airports, train and bus stations, and ports … And we will reduce as much as possible events with large crowds.”
Outside of that region, there is also a confirmed case in Seattle, Washington – stoking fears of a potential outbreak in the U.S.