China Virus Toll Rises to 170

Source: The Straits Times

Countries began isolating hundreds of citizens evacuated from the Chinese city of Wuhan on Thursday to stop the spread of an epidemic that has killed 170 people as worry about the impact on the world’s second-biggest economy rattled markets, Reuters informed.

Asian stocks and currencies fell as the death toll rose and more cases were reported with fears growing that the hit to China’s economy will ripple around the world in the coming months.

India became the latest country to report a case – a student of Wuhan University – while anger and fear brought protests in South Korea and threats of strikes Hong Kong.

“Markets will remain highly volatile as long as they feel that they only have an incomplete picture of what is going on, and what is going to happen next,” said Agathe Demarais, global forecasting director at the Economist Intelligence Unit.

In a sign of alarm over possible damage, Bank of Japan Deputy Governor Masayoshi Amamiya said China’s huge presence in the world economy must be taken into account in gauging the impact the outbreak could have on global growth.

Google and IKEA joined other major firms in closing operations in China. Concern is also growing that thousands of Chinese factory workers on Lunar New Year holidays may struggle to get back to work next week, due to extensive travel restrictions imposed to stop the spread of the virus, Reuters writes.

South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co Ltd said it had extended the holiday closure for some Chinese production facilities. China’s National Health Commission said the total number of deaths from the coronavirus in the country climbed to 170 by late Wednesday, and the number of those infected rose to 7,711.

Almost all the deaths have been in the central province of Hubei, home to about 60 million people and now under virtual lockdown. The virus emerged last month in a live wild animal market in the provincial capital of Wuhan.

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