Deaths Near 500; Cases Spread in Japan, Singapore: Virus Update

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Bloomberg News

A medical staff member disinfects a patient re-entering a quarantine zone in Wuhan, Feb. 3.Photographer: AFP via Getty Images

 The death toll from the new coronavirus climbed toward 500 and the outbreak spread as health officials confirmed multiple cases of infections from Japan to Singapore.

The World Health Organization said the coronavirus hasn’t shown much mutation yet or caused a pandemic, and the bulk of the cases remain in China’s Hubei province. At the same time, ripple effects from the coronavirus continue to reverberate across the globe.

Japan confirmed that 10 people on a cruise ship tested positive for the disease, while Singapore reported six new cases, with four involving human-to-human transmission. South Korea added two cases.

Key Developments:

Bloomberg is tracking the outbreak on the terminal and online.

Trump Cites Efforts on Virus in State of the Union (11:10 a.m. HK)

President Donald Trump said in his State of the Union address that the U.S. is working with China to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

“We are coordinating with the Chinese government and working closely together on the coronavirus outbreak in China,“ Trump said. “My administration will take all necessary steps to safeguard our citizens from this threat.”

Credit Suisse Scraps Hong Kong Conference (11:05 a.m. HK)

Credit Suisse Group AG scrapped its annual Asia investment conference next month, adding to a string of cancellations or delay for similar gatherings in Hong Kong and China.

The decision marks the biggest cancellation in Hong Kong’s financial industry after the outbreak of the virus. The city on Tuesday reported its first confirmed death from the virus. Neighboring Macau, the world’s biggest gambling hub, has asked its casinos to shut down for half a month.

Apple Supplier Hon Hai Cuts Sales Outlook (9:59 a.m. Hong Kong)

Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., Apple Inc.’s main production partner, cut its 2020 revenue growth outlook after assessing the potential impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

Hon Hai, which makes the vast majority of the world’s iPhones from the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou, is now projecting a sales increase of 1% to 3% this year, Chairman Young Liu told Bloomberg News in a text message. That’s down from a Jan. 22 forecast of 3% to 5% before the epidemic spread further around the globe.

The contagion is expected to disrupt Apple’s carefully calibrated production chain centered on China, while also damp consumer demand and overall economic growth.

United, American Halt Hong Kong Flights (9:38 a.m. HK)

United Airlines Holdings Inc. suspended flights to Hong Kong, beginning Feb. 8 until Feb. 20, citing a drop in demand because of the coronavirus. The carrier follows a move on Tuesday by American Airlines Group Inc., which also halted flights to the city through Feb. 20.

The coronavirus outbreak has dealt a blow to airlines in China and around the world as they suspend flights to and from a key market in a bid to control the spread of the virus.

WHO Puts Outbreak Costs at $675.7 Million (8:35 a.m. HK)

Key public health measures to respond to the coronavirus outbreak will cost an estimated $675.7 million through April, the World Health Organization said in a draft plan.

Scaling up country preparedness and response operations will account for more than $640 million of the total needed from Feb. 1 to April 30, according to the draft of the WHO’s strategic preparedness and response plan. The 28-page document outlines measures the international community “stands ready to provide to support all countries to prepare for and respond to” the novel pneumonia-causing virus.

Disney Sees Virus Hurting Profits (8:24 a.m. HK)

Walt Disney Co. is feeling the impact of the virus after temporarily closing its Shanghai and Hong Kong parks due to the outbreak.

On a call to discuss the company’s earnings, Chief Financial Officer Christine McCarthy said Disney expects the Shanghai park closure alone to crimp profits in the current quarter by $135 million, assuming it is shuttered for two months. With Hong Kong closing, Disney expects the coronavirus to reduce profit there by another $40 million.

China Cases Rise Above 24,000 (8:00 a.m. HK)

The number of total confirmed cases of coronavirus in mainland China rose to 24,324 as of Feb. 4, according to the National Health Commission. The death toll is at 490, it said in a statement.

Most of the fatalities — 479 — have occurred in the province of Hubei, the Chinese province at the center of the outbreak. Hubei reported 3,156 new confirmed cases, bringing the total in Hubei to 16,678.

Outside the mainland, Hong Kong reported a death on Tuesday. A man from Wuhan died in the Philippines on Feb. 1.

Ten Passengers on Japan Cruise Have Virus (7:33 a.m. HK)

Ten people on a cruise ship moored near Yokohama with about 3,700 crew and passengers aboard have tested positive for the new coronavirus and taken to hospital, Japan’s Health Ministry announced Wednesday.

The Diamond Princess was placed under quarantine this week before it reached Japan and checks were conducted after a passenger from Hong Kong who had been on the ship tested positive for the virus. Of 31 people whose test results have come through, 10 were confirmed as infected, the ministry said.

 

The new infections come in addition to 23 people already confirmed to have contracted the disease in Japan.

New York City Patient Doesn’t Have Virus (7:20 a.m. HK)

The first person in New York suspected to have the coronavirus doesn’t have the disease, according to the New York City Health Department. Two other test results from patients under investigation are still pending.

FDA Grants Emergency Use of Rapid Test for Virus (6:34 a.m.)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration cleared the way for the widespread use of a new test to detect the novel coronavirus at laboratories across the country, removing the need for doctors to send samples out for analysis.

The test was designed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and can be used at any of the agency’s approved labs across the country. Until now, samples taken from patients had to be sent for analysis at the agency’s laboratories in Atlanta.

 

Nike Says Virus Will Hurt China Operations (4:48 p.m. NY)

Shoe and apparel giant Nike Inc. said the coronavirus will materially impact its China operations. It’s closed about half of its stores in the country, and had cut hours and is seeing lower retail traffic in stores that are still open.

Trials of Gilead Drug in China Could Start Next Week (3:57 p.m. NY)

Gilead is shipping enough doses of its experimental coronavirus drug to treat 500 patients in China and is ramping up supply in case clinical trials work.

Remdesivir, an antiviral treatment that shows effectiveness in the lab against coronaviruses, is being tested in two trials in China in patients with moderate and severe symptoms of the novel pathogen, said Merdad Parsey, Gilead’s chief medical officer.

Patients will get 10 once-daily infusions of the experimental drug or a placebo and be evaluated after 28 days to see whether the drug helped.

Gilead is donating about 500 patients’ worth of the experimental drug, and Chinese hospitals will be in charge of conducting the tests.

 

SEC Warns About Virus Investment Scams (1:44 p.m. NY)

At least one group appears to be benefiting from the coronavirus: financial fraudsters.

That’s according to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which is warning investors to be on the lookout for scams tied to the virus’s spread. The regulator said in a Tuesday statement that it’s become aware of a number of online promotions, including some on social media, that aim to attract investments in companies on the false premise that they can prevent, detect or cure infections.

“We urge investors to be wary of these promotions, and to be aware of the substantial potential for fraud at this time,” the SEC said.

WHO Says 684 People Have Recovered From Coronavirus (12:21 p.m. NY)

Six hundred eighty-four people have recovered from coronavirus infections, according to Maria Van Kerkhove, an epidemiologist serving on the World Health Organization’s emergency committee. The death toll has climbed to at least 425, the group said Tuesday.

The UN agency plans to hold a research meeting on the virus next week, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a briefing in Geneva. The outbreak was declared an international public health emergency by the WHO last week.

The WHO estimated the cost of supporting member countries during the outbreak at $676 million.

Virus to Delay U.S. Export Boom to China, Kudlow Says (9:32 a.m. NY)

The “export boom” from the U.S.’s trade deal with China will be delayed because of the coronavirus outbreak, but the economic impact “is going to be minimal,” White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said.

“It’s not a catastrophe, it’s not a disaster — we’ve been through this before. I think the impact is going to be minimal,” Kudlow said on Fox Business Tuesday. “It’s going to be much tougher for China.”

Last week, Kudlow said the U.S. hasn’t seen any major effects on its economy from the coronavirus epidemic, and will refrain from using it as leverage in the second phase of China trade talks.

— With assistance by Jason Gale, Linly Lin, Robert Langreth, Michelle Cortez, Ana Monteiro, Isabel Reynolds, Christopher Palmeri, Debby Wu, Cathy Chan, and Bei Hu

 

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