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Feb 3, 2020

The Coranavirus: Death Toll 362; Hong Kong Shuts Mainland Crossings: Virus Update

10-13 minutes - Source: Bloomberg



Chinese officials are evaluating whether the target for economic growth this year should be softened, according to people familiar with the matter. The death toll from the coronavirus outbreak rose past 360 and total confirmed cases reached almost 17,400.
Global efforts to contain the spread escalated after the Philippines reported the first fatality outside China and the U.S. confirmed more infections. Trading resumed in China after the Lunar New Year holidays, with stocks plunging the most since 2015 as they caught up with declines elsewhere. U.S. equity futures rallied.
Bloomberg is tracking the outbreak here.

Key Developments:

  • Hong Kong closing more checkpoints with mainland; medics strike
  • China’s worst stock rout in years leaves 3,257 shares limit down
  • China deaths at 361, with confirmed cases in the country at 17,205
  • The government in Beijing said the U.S. had “overreacted” to the virus
Rise in Confirmed Cases Since Jan. 20
National Health Commission of the PRCS

China Considers Lowering 2020 Growth Expectations (6:30 a.m. NY)

Officials are evaluating whether the target for economic growth this year should be softened as part of a broader review. Further measures to shore up the economy are being considered, including increasing the planned cap on the budget deficit-to-GDP ratio and selling more special government bonds.

China’s Biggest LNG Buyers Consider Force Majeure (6:53 p.m. HK)

China’s big state-owned liquefied natural gas importers are considering force majeure declarations on contracted cargo deliveries as they grapple with the impact from the novel coronavirus, according to people with knowledge of the situation.
relates to Death Toll 362; Hong Kong Shuts Mainland Crossings: Virus Update

Crop Cargoes Stuck at China Ports on Virus Controls (6:13 p.m. HK)

Logistical constraints at some Chinese ports due to the coronavirus are holding up deliveries of agricultural goods from soy to palm oil cargoes. While China’s economic planner said that food supply can be ensured and prices will remain stable, the port disruptions highlight the country’s vulnerability.

WHO Director-General Says Coronavirus Must Be Fought at Source (5:57 p.m. HK)

The spread of the new virus can remain “minimal and slow” if the outbreak is fought at the source and countries cooperate, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “There is no reason for any measures that unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade,” he said.
Hong Kong Medical Workers to Strike in Bid to Shut China Border
Winnie Yu, chairwoman of the Hospital Authority Employees Alliance during a protest outside Queen Mary Hospital in Hong Kong, on Feb. 3.
Photographer: Chan Long Hei/Bloomberg

Hong Kong to Close More Checkpoints (5:23 p.m. HK)

Hong Kong will close more checkpoints, including two major land ports on the border with the mainland, from midnight, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said at briefing. Only three out of the 13 checkpoints will stay open, including Shenzhen Bay port, Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge port and Hong Kong airport. Striking Hong Kong health workers had demanded that all entry points be shut.

China Lunar New Year Passenger Volume Falls 73% (4:40 p.m. HK)

The number of trips made in China over the Lunar New Year break plunged 73% to about 190 million from the holiday last year as people were prohibited or refrained from travel.

Recession Return

Hong Kong's economy saw its first annual contraction since 2009 last year
Source: Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department, Bloomberg survey

Indonesia to Temporarily Stop Food, Beverages Imports From China (4:22 p.m. HK)

The government will find alternative suppliers to replace goods from China, according to a senior official. Details of the suspension will be discussed in a coordinating meeting.

China Blasts U.S. for ‘Overreaction’ (3:56 p.m. HK)

China said the U.S. had “inappropriately overreacted” to the deadly virus originating on the mainland and hasn’t provided much help to counter the outbreak.
“The U.S. government hasn’t provided any substantial assistance to us, but it was the first to evacuate personnel from its consulate in Wuhan, the first to suggest partial withdrawal of its embassy staff, and the first to impose a travel ban on Chinese travelers,” Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Monday.

PBOC Says Stock Plunge Caused by “Herd Effect” (3:46 p.m. HK)

There were some “irrational” factors in Monday’s stock slump, PBOC-backed Financial News said in commentary published on the People’s Bank of China WeChat account. The post says the impact from the epidemic on China’s economy is temporary and limited.

Russia May Deport Foreigners With Coronavirus (3:45 p.m. HK)

Russia may deport foreign citizens who are infected with the coronavirus as part of a national plan against the outbreak signed by Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin.
The government will also postpone the flagship Sochi Economic Forum due to be held Feb. 12-14 as a precaution, Mishustin said at a televised meeting with his deputies. Russia reported its first two cases of coronavirus on Friday.

Germany Says It’s Ready for an Epidemic (3:09 p.m. HK)

Germany has sufficient quarantine facilities to handle an epidemic, but the outbreak of the coronavirus is below that threshold, Health Minister Jens Spahn said in an interview with public broadcaster ARD.
“We’re prepared for the current situation,” said Spahn. “We have plans for every development. Even if there was a flu epidemic, we’d have plans.”
He said it’s important to take precautions because the virus is still being researched and isn’t well understood, but “with 10 cases of corona virus in Germany, we’re far away” from an epidemic. Spahn added that all infected patients are in good condition.

Thailand Sees Results From Drug Mixture (2:44 p.m. HK)

A cocktail of antiviral drugs appeared effective in treating a seriously ill coronavirus patient, a Thai health official said.
The HIV medicines lopinavir and ritonavir, which are sold by AbbVie Inc. as the product Kaletra, was used on three patients in conjunction with the anti-flu medication oseltamivir, sold by Roche Holding AG and Chugai Pharmaceutical Co. as Tamiflu, Somkiat Lalitwongsa, director of the Rajavithi Hospital in Bangkok, told reporters.
Separately, China has kick-started a clinical trial to test a drug as the nation rushes therapies for those afflicted and scours for vaccines to protect the rest. Remdesivir, a new antiviral drug by Gilead Sciences Inc. aimed at infectious diseases such Ebola and SARS, will be tested by a medical team from Beijing-based China-Japan Friendship Hospital for efficacy in treating the coronavirus.

U.S. to Send More Evacuation Flights to China (2:31 p.m. HK)

The U.S. will be sending a “handful more” flights to bring citizens back from China’s Hubei province, U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo told reporters, according to a pool report. The U.S. may bring citizens from other countries as well, the report said.
US-HEALTH-CHINA-VIRUS
Chinese passengers at Los Angeles International Airport, on Feb. 2.
Photographer: Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images

Hong Kong Medical Workers Strike (2:16 p.m. HK)

Hong Kong medical professionals began a five-day strike Monday after the government refused their demand to shut all entry points from China. Deacons Yeung, the Hospital Authority’s Director of Cluster Services, said emergency services remained normal and authorities had activated a “major incident control center” to monitor the situation.

Virus Is Most Deadly in Hubei Province (12:45 p.m. HK)

The number of official cases from the coronavirus is still highly concentrated in Hubei province. Of the 17,205 confirmed infections in mainland China so far, 65% are in Hubei, where the outbreak originated and where residents are in effective lockdown because of travel restrictions.
The virus also appears to be more deadly in Hubei, accounting for 97% of the 361 total deaths reported in the country.
Travelers At Hongqiao Railway Station In Shanghai As China Central Bank to Supply $174 Billion For Virus-Hit Markets
A train pulls into a platform as a few travelers wait to embark at Kunshan South Railway Station in Shanghai, Feb. 2.
Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

U.S. Reports Additional Cases (11:20 a.m. HK)

California confirmed two new cases of coronavirus in San Benito County, bringing the total of infected patients in the U.S. to 11.
The two cases are a married couple, one of whom traveled to China. Earlier Sunday, Santa Clara’s public health department reported an additional coronavirus patient. The woman had traveled to Wuhan and visited the U.S. on Jan. 23. It’s the second case in the county, which is just south of San Francisco.

Chinese Stocks, Commodities Plummet as Markets Reopen (9:38 a.m. HK)

Chinese stocks plummeted the most since an equity bubble burst in 2015, with the CSI 300 Index dropping as much as 9.1%, as onshore financial markets opened for the first time since Jan. 23.
China’s three major commodity exchanges were hit by a wave of selling as investors returned to markets gripped by fear over the impact the coronavirus will have on demand in the world’s biggest consumer of raw materials. China’s benchmark iron ore contract fell by its daily limit of 8%, while copper, crude and palm oil also sank by the maximum allowed.
China reduced rates as it injected cash into the financial system, with the central bank seeking to ensure ample liquidity as markets plunge. It cut borrowing costs on the funds by 10 basis points.

China Virus Cases Climb Above 17,000 (8:12 a.m. HK)

China’s death toll increased by 57 to reach 361 as of Feb. 2, according to a statement from the Ministry of Health. Total confirmed infections climbed to 17,205, with the addition of 2,829 cases in the past 24 hours. There are 2,296 severe cases, the ministry said.

U.S. Adds Airports for Virus Screening (8:01 a.m. HK)

The U.S. expanded to 11 the number of airports accepting flights carrying citizens who visited China. The airports will conduct enhanced screening for possible coronavirus symptoms, as part of new restrictions that took effect Sunday to stem the outbreak.
The Transportation Security Administration said airports in Dallas, Detroit, Newark and Washington will accept flights starting Monday. Previously, flights with passengers who visited China were being sent only to Atlanta, Chicago, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Seattle.
— With assistance by Jihye Lee, Alfred Liu, Miaojung Lin, Debby Wu, Abeer Abu Omar, Sara Marley, Helene Fouquet, Charlie Zhu, Miao Han, Kiuyan Wong, Jason Gale, Claire Jiao, Steve Geimann, Chris Reiter, Stepan Kravchenko, and Andrey Biryukov

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