The Chinese government braced for additional economic turmoil, took steps to bolster its lagging economy and activated new safety measures as the coronavirus epidemic spread globally, causing the first illness-related death outside of China.
The Philippines’ Department of Health confirmed that a 44-year-old Chinese national from Wuhan in the country’s Hubei province traveled to the Philippines and died in that country over the weekend, according to Reuters on Sunday (Feb. 2).
So far, in China, 304 people have died from illnesses related to coronavirus. As of last Saturday, 14,380 remain infected. 171 more cases of coronavirus infection have been confirmed in over two dozen more countries, including the United States, Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong, and Great Britain.
The world’s second-largest economy is slowing because of reactions to the coronavirus, and analysts are concerned about what multiple impacts on public health and the economy this outbreak will continue to have. No one yet knows how bad it will be.
In Beijing, many stores across multiple retail markets are closed. The People’s Bank of China is poised to inject more money — $173 billion, the largest single liquidity injection since 2004 — into the country to stabilize the economic damage. The move was to be completed through reverse repo operations as the country reopens its stock market Monday (Feb. 3) from the extended Lunar New Year holiday.
“We can’t work and have no income. I would rather work than stay at home and do nothing,” said 32-year-old restaurant worker Wu Caixia in Beijing. Food companies that are still delivering in Beijing and Shanghai are now sending notes with the order confirming the healthy temperature of the delivery person.
Wuhan, where the coronavirus outbreak is thought to have begun, is heavily quarantined with sealed off roads and closed public transport. State broadcaster CCTV and the Xinhua news agency reports that new hospitals will open in the area to treat virus patients.
The World Health Organization confirmed the coronavirus outbreak is a global public health emergency, but said international trade and travel restrictions are not necessary. Nevertheless, multiple countries are evacuating their citizens and advising no new travel to China until the outbreak is over.
Analysts said the virus and the subsequent efforts to stop it will likely continue to damage the overall economy when trading resumes on Monday (Jan. 3).
“In contrast to 2003 with Sars, we’re now a decade into a bull market and valuations of some financial assets are stretched,” said global economist at Capital Economics Simon MacAdam in an investor note, according to the Financial Times. “The new virus is a plausible catalyst for a market correction.”