China Bought Time With Quarantine; Russian Borders: Virus Update
(Bloomberg) -- China’s strict quarantine likely bought the rest of the world several weeks to prepare for the virus, according to the World Health Organization. Hubei, the Chinese province at epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, said it plans to use recent purchases of medicines to look for unidentified patients.
Russia said it would bar Chinese citizens from entering the country starting Feb. 20. China’s commerce ministry said it would take steps to blunt the impact of the virus.
Earlier, China reported the lowest number of new cases since announcing a change in its method of detection last week. So far, 73,424 people have been infected and 1,873 have died around the world, the vast majority of them in Hubei.
- China death toll 1,868; mainland cases rise to 72,436
- Hubei reports 1,807 new cases; 93 more deaths
- Apple’s cut revives questions about China over-reliance
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China Measures Seem to Have Delayed Spread, WHO Says (2:50 p.m. NY)
China’s aggressive quarantine tactics delayed the spread of the coronavirus from the outbreak’s center, said a top official at the World Health Organization. Officials in China's Hubei province locked down travel to and from the province, and later sharply restricted people’s ability to leave their homes.
“Those measures on movement restriction have delayed the dissemination of the outbreak by two or three days within China, and two or three weeks outside China,” said Sylvie Briand, the WHO’s director of global infectious hazard preparedness.
Briand said that estimate was based on modeling of the disease’s spread, and it will take time to know for certain.
Russia Bans Chinese Citizens From Entry (1:05 p.m. NY)
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin signed an order temporarily banning Chinese citizens from entering Russia for tourism, personal reasons or work starting Thursday, Interfax reported, citing Deputy PM Tatyana Golikova’s office. The ban doesn’t apply to passengers continuing to a destination outside Russia.
China Aims to Stabilize Trade, Promote Consumption (10:25 a.m. NY)
China’s Commerce Ministry will take steps to help stabilize the nation’s foreign trade and prod consumption in a bid to reduce the impact of coronavirus outbreak on commercial activities, the ministry said in statement.
Sanofi to Work on Coronavirus Vaccine (10 a.m. NY)
French pharmaceutical company Sanofi jumped into the race to combat the fast-spreading coronavirus, betting that earlier work in pursuit of a SARS vaccine could accelerate its effort.
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Hubei Will Search for People Who Bought Fever Drugs (7:24 a.m. NY)
China’s Hubei province said it will use recent purchases of fever and cough medicines to sweep for unidentified coronavirus patients, a new step that leverages the government’s surveillance powers to try and stop the virus.
The province has enacted a lockdown of tens of millions of people, opened new hospitals and isolation centers, mandated self-reported temperature checks, and conducted house-to-house searches for people showing symptoms. The measures have coincided with a drop in newly reported cases in Hubei, where the outbreak began and most infections and deaths have occurred.
The government will investigate anyone who bought fever or cough medicines since Jan. 20, whether they were purchased from brick-and-mortar stores or online. It will also track down anyone who sought treatment for a fever since then. Anyone selling treatments for a cough or fever will have to check and register and report the patient’s identity, the provincial government said.
China’s authorities have broad powers of surveillance, enabled by an almost totally mobile-based payment systems that are integrated into most aspects of everyday life. While they’ve helped control movement in the province and the city of Wuhan, creating a regional quarantine, citizens there have complained of harsh treatment and short supplies as the lockdown drags on.
More Companies Warn on Virus Impact (7:24 a.m. NY)
Walmart Inc.’s CFO said the virus could lower first-quarter earnings per share by a few cents. The retailer said it had closed “less than a handful” of stores in the country. Separately, Medtronic said it expected the outbreak to impact fourth-quarter results, but that this was hard to quantify.
Earlier, Apple slumped after saying it wouldn’t be able to hit sales targets. The news drove down U.S. stock futures, as well as shares in European chipmakers and Asian suppliers.
Xi Tells U.K.’s Johnson China Can Meet 2020 Goals (6:47 a.m. NY)
China is confident in achieving economic development targets set for this year, President Xi Jinping told U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a phone call, according to China Central Television. China’s efforts to fight coronavirus are yielding significant results, Xi said.
IHG CEO Calls Coronavirus ‘Short-Term Blip’ (6:28 a.m. NY)
InterContinental Hotels Group shares reversed a decline after Chief Executive Officer Keith Barr said the outbreak was a “short-term blip” in the Chinese market.
IHG opened six hotels in China in January and signed 11 hotels in February, Barr said on an earnings call. “Business is still moving ahead” and the “long-term fundamentals in China remain absolutely strong,” he said.
Passengers Should Have Been Released Earlier: Netanyahu (6:10 a.m. NY)
Passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship should have been dispersed as quickly as possible, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. There were 15 Israeli citizens on board -- three have been infected and the remainder are scheduled to be flown back to Israel on Thursday.
Japan said on Tuesday another 88 people aboard the quarantined ship had been infected, bringing the total number of cases to 542 people. Earlier, Britain became the latest country to look at evacuating its nationals from the Diamond Princess, following Australia and South Korea.
Japan expects to remove all passengers from the cruise ship by Friday.
Fredriksen’s Bulk-Shipping Firm Warns on Profits (6:09 a.m. NY)
Golden Ocean Group Ltd., one of the world’s biggest dry-bulk shipping companies, said the coronavirus outbreak will hurt profits and slashed its dividend to a third to protect its balance sheet. The warning illustrates the toll from the virus on the world’s second-biggest economy and the global ripple effects, including on demand for transport of goods in and out of China.
German Investor Confidence Plunges (6:08 p.m. HK)
Investor sentiment in Europe’s largest economy dropped on concerns the outbreak will disrupt trade. ZEW’s index of expectations for the next six months fell below even the most pessimistic estimate in a Bloomberg survey. The poll suggests confidence is fading that Germany can stem a manufacturing recession that has lasted more than a year.
“Economic development is rather fragile at the moment,” ZEW President Achim Wambach said in a statement. The outlook for export-intensive sectors has deteriorated “particularly sharply” as a result of the epidemic that originated in China, he said.
Earlier on Tuesday, South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in called for “extraordinary” steps to minimize the virus’s impact and said it was an emergency for the country’s economy.
Virus May Curb China Oil and Gas Use But Not Emissions (5:33 p.m. HK)
A government stimulus package being planned to combat the economic impact of the viral outbreak will probably focus on increasing investment in infrastructure, which will likely boost usage of coal, BloombergNEF said in a report. The dirtiest fossil fuel continues to be the main source of power in China despite efforts in the past decade to clean up the sector by favoring new renewable generation.
Brent futures fell 1.8% to trade below $57 a barrel in London.
Apple Slumps on Sales Warning (5:12 p.m. HK)
Apple shares fell 4.2% in pre-market trading after the technology giant said it doesn’t expect to meet revenue guidance for the March quarter, citing the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
The news also hit U.S. futures as well as technology stocks in Europe and Asia.
Hong Kong Jobless Rate Was Rising Before Virus Hit (5:02 p.m. HK)
The jobless rate rose in January for a fourth straight month, reaching its highest level since 2016 as Hong Kong’s businesses struggle from the political unrest and also from the disruption starting late in the month caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
The city’s jobless rate rose to 3.4% for the November to January period, the same as the median forecast in a survey of economists. The string of increases was the longest since 2009, in the aftermath of the global financial crisis. The data does not reflect the full impact of shutdowns from the coronavirus outbreak.
HK to Extend Virus Monitoring, Lab Tests (4:54 p.m. HK)
Hong Kong health authorities will extend novel coronavirus surveillance to include testing outpatients and those at emergency wards, Under Secretary for Food and Health Chui Tak-yi said at a briefing.
China Outbreak May Peak in Some Areas in Feb.: Expert (4:41 p.m. HK)
Zhong Nanshan, a respiratory disease expert advising the Chinese government, expects the coronavirus outbreak to peak by mid to late February in southern China, Xinhua reported. The forecast is based on mathematical models and governments’ control measures.
IMF Cuts Nigerian Growth Forecast (4:15 p.m. HK)
The International Monetary Fund cut its estimate for Nigerian economic growth, as oil prices slump amid the coronavirus outbreak. The forecast for Africa’s top crude producer was lowered to 2% from 2.5%, the lender said in a statement on Monday.
SAT Tests Scrapped For Chinese Students (3:43 p.m. HK)
The College Board, which organizes the standardized Scholastic Assessment Test, or SAT, for admission to colleges in the U.S., canceled the March 14 test for all registered students traveling from China to other locations for the exam.
The test will be administered in Hong Kong, Macau and Singapore, but not in mainland China.
Singapore Budgets Millions to Counter Virus (3:09 p.m. HK)
Singaporean authorities are setting aside an additional S$800 million ($575 million) in the city-state’s budget to support efforts to fight and contain the virus, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat told Parliament.
Earlier this month, Singapore Airlines and subsidiary SilkAir announced a temporary reduction in flight services across their global network, owing to weak demand as a result of the outbreak.
Shanghai Schools to Remain Suspended (3 p.m. HK)
Colleges and schools in China’s financial hub will remain suspended in March due to the outbreak and online teaching will be provided, the city’s government said. It said it would decide when to reopen campuses based on the development of the epidemic.
Philippines to Allow Workers to Return to Hong Kong, Macau (3 p.m. HK)
The Southeast Asian nation will allow its citizens employed in Hong Kong and Macau to return to their jobs, partially lifting a travel ban imposed weeks ago to prevent the virus’s spread.
The government will exempt those working in the two cities from the ban “subject to certain formalities,” Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Brigido Dulay tweeted. It comes after the government lifted a days-old travel ban on Taiwan on Feb. 14.
New Doctor Fatality (2:03 p.m. HK)
State-run CCTV reported the death of neurosurgery expert Liu Zhiming, director of Wuhan Wuchang Hospital, underscoring the risks of the virus for medical workers on its front lines. It comes after the death earlier this month of Li Wenliang, a city doctor who was sanctioned for attempting to bring the virus to light early on -- and whose death sparked a rare outpouring of public anger in the country.
More than 1,700 medical workers have been infected by the coronavirus, according to China’s National Health Commission, most of them in Wuhan. At least six have died.
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