The New York Times reporter in Hong Kong has just posted a video that sums up the concern in the city about the spread of the coronavirus.
The ratings agency S&P has slashed its forecast of China’s economic growth for this year by 0.75 percentage points, saying the coronavirus will deliver a big temporary hit to the country’s economy that will spill over to the whole world.
S&P said it now forecast Chinese GDP growth of 5%, down from its previous estimate of 5.7%, but cautioned that it was less confident in its figures than usual because of continuing uncertainty over the severity of the outbreak.
This will flow through to the global economy because China accounts for a third of worldwide growth, S&P said.
“The global impact will be felt through four real economy channels: sharply reduced tourism revenues, lower exports of consumer and capital goods, lower commodity prices, and industrial supply-chain disruptions,” it said.
“If the virus cannot be contained, a material risk, the economic impact could develop exponentially with significant credit implications.”
The agency said it expected a rebound next year that would make up lost ground, increasing its estimate of 2021 GDP growth from 5.6% to 6.4%.
S&P said it expected travel restrictions to ease from next month.
Here is a global rundown of the latest figures for cases and deaths reported by health authorities around the world so far.
China: 636 deaths and 31,161 confirmed cases on the mainland. In addition, Hong Kong has had one death, and 22 cases. Macao has had 10 cases.
Japan: 86 cases
South Korea: 24
United States: 12
United Arab Emirates: 5
Philippines: 3 cases, including 1 death
Sri Lanka: 1
Xi says China has taken ‘most comprehensive containment measures’
Reuters has the latest on a phone call between Xi Jinping, the Chinese leader, and Donald Trump. It says:
The Chinese government has spared no effort in its fight to contain the coronavirus outbreak, having taken the most comprehensive and stringent prevention and containment measures, President Xi Jinping told US President Donald Trump.
In its battle against the coronavirus, China is gradually achieving results, Xi told his US counterpart on a phone call on Friday morning, according to state television.
China is fully confident and capable of defeating the epidemic, and the long-term trend of the country’s economic development will not change, Xi said.
We have been reporting about death in Wuhan of Li Wenliang, the doctor who had tried to raise the alarm about the danger of the virus in December.
The 34-year-old became a household name in China, known to hundreds of millions of people as the face and conscience of the spiralling crisis. (You can read our full story about him here.)
Li’s initial efforts to raise the alarm about the virus were met by the security forces accusing him of “making false comments”. He signed a statement agreeing not to discuss the disease further.
The news of his death was muddled by state media, who initially reporting it, then rowed back on their confirmation, only to finally confirm that he died in hospital after having contracted the virus.
It’s prompted an outpouring of grief and anger on Chinese social media .
Toyota has extended the closure of its 12 factories in China by a week.
The Japanese carmaker had planned to reopen its car and component-making plants this weekend but will now keep them shuttered until 16 February “after considering various factors, including guidelines from local and region governments, parts supply, and logistics”.
Impact on Chinese economy is temporary – officials
Officials at the Beijing press conference said they had confidence in the economic system and that the impact on the economy from the outbreak would be “temporary. It will be limited and will not affect the fundamentals, and the economy is sound and stable”.
The outbreak has taken place during the spring festival and the impact on services is notable. The holiday has been extended and the construction sector and other sectors will be affected. There will be an impact on economic performance in Q1 but the economy will return to productivity when the epidemic is over. Look at 2003 Sars outbreak. There was disrupted growth in Q2 but in Q3 it rebounded. When the epidemic is controlled, the economy will rebound and pent-up investment and consumption released. The Chinese econony will have a quick recovery. it is promising and resilient. The funadmentals will not change. There is ample room for macro regulation – China is one of the few major economies that have normal monetary policy so we have sufficient tools to repsond.
Officials also said that the rise in the Chinese stock market since its reopening on Monday proves that it is becoming more mature. The benchmark Shanghai Composite is index lost 8% on Monday but is now off by 4.5% on the week so has regained some ground.
Scott Morrison has urged all Australians to leave China as soon as possible
Just doubling back on that press conference we have just heard from the Australian PM, Scott Morrison. He has told Australians to get out of China by commercial means if possible and that he cannot guarantee assisted flights out will continue in the future.
Australians and immediate family members – if you are there, then there are still commercial flights coming out of China, mainland China to Australia and I strongly suggest you avail yourself of those. The government cannot guarantee that similar types of assisted flights would be able to be put on in the future either into the mainland or Wuhan
On Wednesday, the British government told its citizens “if you are in China and are able to leave, you should do so”. On Thursday, Canada followed suit, telling its citizens who did not have to be in China, that they should get out on commercial flights if possible: “If your presence in China isn’t essential, you should consider leaving by commercial means,” the advice said.
China provides emergency funding for key manufacturers
China’s finance ministry has created a special fund of billions of yuan to target lending for companies involved in the manufacture of key medical supplies such as safety goggles, face masks and disinfectant, officials have said at a media conference in Beijing.
A list of companies will be drawn up by the government and banks will be expected to hand over cash to them to enable them to keep production flowing.
Morrison is asked if he would consider stopping cruise ships coming to Australia, given the infections on the cruise ship that has docked in Japan?
“No. That is not under advice at the moment. No-one has recommended that. But those Australians who are on board that vessel (stuck in Yokohama) and a number of additional cases have been confirmed amongst the Australians on that vessel, which is up in Japan and they are getting consular support. They have been transferred to medical facilities in Japan as the other two were and there are quite a number of other Australians on board this ship that are in quarantine on the vessel.”
Australian PM ‘strongly suggests’ citizens take commercial flights out of China if possible
We are hearing a news conference from the Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, on plans for a second evacuation flight from Wuhan.
He confirms that the government is looking at a second quarantine facility in Australia’s Northern Territory. The first evacuees were taken to Christmas Island, a former detention centre for refugees and asylum seekers.
The site being considered isa a mining camp facility in the NT’s capital city, Darwin.
Morrison also has a message for Australians who are still in mainland China – that they should get out on commercial flights if possible:
“Australians and immediate family members – if you are there, then there are still commercial flights coming out of China, mainland China to Australia and I strongly suggest you avail yourself of those. The government cannot guarantee that similar types of assisted flights would be able to be put on in the future either into the mainland or Wuhan.”
We reported yesterday that clinical trials had begun in China for the drug Remdesivir on coronavirus patients. State media says the first person to receive treatment was a 68-year-old man with serious symptoms in Wuhan’s Jinyintan hospital. More than 750 patients will take part in the trial.
Second Chinese city, Xiaogan, records more than 2,000 coronavirus cases
The Chinese city of Xiaogan, around 70km north-west of Wuhan in Hubei province, has become only the second city in China (after Wuhan) to record more than 2,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus.
Chinese state media is reporting Beijing’s financial support during the virus outbreak.