WHO sees coronavirus as No.1 threat; markets optimistic worst is over
- 12 February 2020
The coronavirus outbreak in China may be over by April, the country’s senior medical adviser said on Tuesday, but deaths surpassed 1,000 and the World Health Organization (WHO) warned of a global threat potentially worse than terrorism, APA reports citing Reuters.
The world must “wake up and consider this enemy virus as public enemy number one,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters, adding the first vaccine was 18 months away.
China’s foremost medical adviser on the outbreak, Zhong Nanshan, said numbers of new cases were falling in some provinces and forecast the epidemic would peak this month.
“I hope this outbreak or this event may be over in something like April,” Zhong, an epidemiologist who played a role in combating an outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome in 2003, told Reuters.
World stocks, which had seen rounds of sell-offs over the coronarvirus’ impact on China’s economy and its ripple effects, surged to record highs on Zhong’s comments. The Dow industrials, S&P 500 and Nasdaq all hit new peaks. [MKTS/GLOB]
Even if the epidemic ends soon, it has already taken a toll on China’s economy, as companies began laying off workers and other firms said they would need loans running into billions of dollars to stay afloat. Supply chains for car manufacturers to smartphone makers have broken down.
The WHO said on Tuesday 1,017 people had died in China, where there were 42,708 cases.
Statistics from China indicate about 2% of people infected with the new virus have died, and many had pre-existing medical conditions or were elderly. But the spread of the virus, which can lead to pneumonia, has already caused widespread disruption.
St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard said China’s economy was expected to “slow noticeably” in the first quarter and anyone pricing assets should for now consider the “tail risk” that the outbreak could get worse.
But Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said the financial spillover from the outbreak looked containable, though it was still early to judge the economic impact.