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China Vows to Support Market, U.S. Limits Flights: Virus Update

Bloomberg News

(Bloomberg) -- China’s central bank will inject more than $21 billion of liquidity in seeking to avert a potential sell-off from the coronavirus outbreak, and the U.S. is ready to redirect flights with passengers from China.

A jump in fatalities and a surge in infections stoked fears of contagion.

Airlines in Asia, Europe and the Middle East stopped service to the mainland. A city 700 kilometers from the epicenter of the outbreak has quarantined 9 million residents.

Bloomberg is tracking the outbreak here.

Key Developments:

China’s central bank will pump 150 billion yuan ($21.7 billion) into markets on Monday to prevent a sell-off.Stock futures were set to slump; the offshore yen was steady.A Wuhan man who traveled to the Philippines is the first known person to die outside China.China recorded 45 deaths and 2,590 cases for Feb. 1. Total infections rose to 14,380 in the country, with 304 deaths.More countries have blocked arrivals from China.The U.S. is studying the economic impact of the outbreak.

Asia Stocks Set to Decline (4 p.m. NY)

Traders braced for mainland Chinese markets to reopen on Monday, with stocks across the Asia-Pacific region set for further declines as the coronavirus outbreak showed no signs of slowing.

Futures signaled declines in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Australia, after the S&P 500 Index fell Friday. Investors are assessing the intervention by China’s central bank with more than $21 billion of liquidity to support markets and its economy.

The offshore yuan was steady early Monday after weakening last week through 7 per dollar. The Aussie and yen were little changed.

Trump on Virus: U.S. ‘Shut It Down’ (4 p.m. NY)

President Donald Trump said the U.S. has offered China help with the outbreak, but that steps have been taken to prevent the coronavirus from entering the country.

“We pretty much shut it down coming in from China,” he said on Fox TV’s Super Bowl pregame broadcast. “We’ve offered China help, but we can’t have thousands of people coming in who may have this problem, the coronavirus. So we’re gonna see what happens, but we did shut it down, yes.”

Bangkok, Hong Kong Most at Risk (3:45 p.m. NY)

Bangkok and Hong Kong are most at-risk from the spread of coronavirus based on air travelers expected to arrive from affected cities in China, population mapping experts at the University of Southampton concluded. Taipei ranked third.

Sydney is 12th, New York 16th and London 19th among 30 major cities, the researchers said. Thailand and Japan are the most at-risk countries, followed by the U.S. (6th), Australia (10th) and U.K. (17th).

The research is based 2013-15 data on typical patterns of movement by people in China during the long Lunar New Year celebrations, including the public holiday that was extended a week ago.

Fights to U.S. Get Redirected (2:30 pm. NY)

U.S. flights carrying citizens who visited China will be redirected to one of seven international airports to be screened for possible coronavirus symptoms, part of new restrictions that take effect Sunday to stem the outbreak.

Flights will only land in Atlanta, Chicago, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Seattle, the Department of Homeland Security said. Once on the ground, passengers will be subject to enhanced health screening.

The department said “all passenger flights to the United States carrying individuals who have recently traveled” to China are subject to the restrictions, which were outlined Friday at the White House.

Visitors to Hubei Province, the populous region where the outbreak began, may be quarantined for as long as 14 days, the agency said.

“We realize this could provide added stress and prolong travel times for some individuals,” DHS Acting Secretary Chad Wolf said. “However, public health and security experts agree these measures are necessary to contain the virus and protect the American people.”

If a traveler was in China, but outside Hubei Province, is re-routed and shows no symptoms after screening, they will be re-booked to their destination and asked to self-quarantine at home, DHS said.

U.S. Offer Unanswered by China (1:30 p.m. NY)

The U.S. offered top public health experts to help China with the coronavirus outbreak, but so far Beijing hasn’t responded, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said Sunday.

“This is a worldwide concern -- we want to help our Chinese colleagues if we can,” O’Brien said on CBS, noting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health are world-class organizations. “We’ve made the offer and we’ll see if they accept.”

So far, Chinese health officials are providing information and the U.S. is “taking that for what it’s worth, but at the same time we’re monitoring ourselves,” he said on “Face the Nation.”

Uber Suspends Mexico Accounts (1:15 p.m. NY)

Uber Technologies Inc. suspended 240 accounts in Mexico to contain the spread of coronavirus after the users rode with two drivers who came into contact with a possible infected patient, the company said on its Mexican Twitter account. To date, no confirmed cases of the virus have been reported in Mexico.

Mexico City’s Health Ministry confirmed a driver picked up a passenger from Los Angeles infected with the coronavirus, based on information from U.S authorities. The ministry said of the suspected cases tied to the passenger, none have developed symptoms in 10 days since contact.

France Gets Second Flight (12:05 p.m. NY)

An evacuation flight from Wuhan landed Sunday at France’s Istres military airbase where about 100 French passengers will be quarantined in a firefighters’ compound, government officials said. The first evacuation flight to France landed on Friday.

Officials said that when the flight left Wuhan, none of the passengers had symptoms of coronavirus. They include French, Belgians, Dutch, Danes, Czechs, Slovaks and some citizens of African countries, the Associated Press reported.

France’s foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian urged citizens not to travel to China.

G-7 Leaders Mull Coordination (11 a.m. NY)

Leaders of the Group of Seven nations are in talks to coordinate their response to the coronavirus outbreak, Germany Health Minister Jens Spahn said Sunday, according to Handelsblatt.

Spahn said he had spoken with a U.S. health official, by phone, and they had decided on the need for a telephone conference of G-7 health ministers. Spahn said: “There is no point in one country taking action alone, especially not in Europe.”

WHO Takes on Virus Rumors (10:33 am NY)

The World Health Organization highlighted “myths and rumors” tied to the outbreak in its daily situation report, saying that it’s making available public health information and advice, including “myth-busters,” on Twitter and other social media channels along with its website.

Researchers and journalists have documented an expanding number of cases of misinformation about the virus, ranging from racist explanations for the disease’s origin to false claims about miracle cures.

Coastal Chinese City Quarantined (7:55 a.m. NY)

Wenzhou, an eastern port of 9 million people, became the first city outside central Hubei province to impose quarantine measures due to the coronavirus outbreak. The city, some 700 kilometers from the epidemic’s origin in Wuhan, is in Zhejiang province, which has about 600 confirmed cases of the virus, the highest number outside Hubei. The two cities are known for their business ties.

Families will be allowed to send one person out of the house every two days to shop for necessities, city authorities said. Residents are advised to leave their homes only for medical treatment or related reasons.

White House Studies Virus Impact (6:23 a.m. NY)

White House economic advisers are studying the potential impact of the epidemic of the coronavirus on the U.S. economy, the Washington Post reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The White House National Economic Council and the Council of Economic Advisers are conducting a preliminary assessment of the potential short-term and long-term effects of the outbreak, the newspaper said.

One area that may feel the impact will be the international education industry. Australian Education Minister Dan Tehan estimated the global impact on the market could reach A$8 billion ($5.4 billion), the Sydney Morning Herald reported. About 200,000 Chinese students are due to study in Australia this year, the paper said, with many more attending schools and universities throughout the rest of the world.

Thai Doctors Use Antivirals (5:16 p.m. HK)

Thailand doctors who used a mix of antivirals to treat a Chinese patient with the novel coronavirus who was in serious condition reported postive results, according to a health ministry briefing. The doctors used the flu treatment oseltamivir along with lopinavir and ritonavir, both HIV drugs.

In a separate case, the reported use of an experimental drug from Gilead Sciences Inc., called remdesevir, has encouraged doctors to support further testing of the medication against coronavirus.

Indonesia, Oman Suspend Flights (5:30 p.m. HK)

Indonesia will temporarily ban flights to and from China from Feb. 5, Detik news portal reported, citing Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi. The government is asking Indonesians not to travel to mainland China temporarily, she was cited as saying. Oman’s aviation authority said it suspended all flights between the sultanate and China.

Infections May be Underreported (5 p.m. HK)

Many people suspected of being sick with the coronavirus in Wuhan aren’t being counted as having been infected, and some suspicious deaths haven’t been checked and included in the death toll due to a shortage of tests, according to Caijing, a Chinese media company. The Saturday report was deleted from the internet Sunday. The deaths were recorded as due to viral pneumonia and not pneumonia caused by the coronavirus, Caijing wrote.

An unidentified doctor from a Wuhan hospital designated for coronavirus treatment said that they haveadmitted about 600 severe cases, but none of these patients were confirmed as having coronavirus due to a lack of tests.

More Studies Needed on Virus Spread (3:45 p.m. HK)

More studies are needed to determine if the virus can transmit via the fecal-oral route, a Chinese CDC official said at a press conference Sunday.

The novel coronavirus was detected in the loose stool of the first U.S. case -- a finding that hasn’t featured among case reports from Wuhan. Squat latrines, common in China, lacking covers and hands that aren’t washed thoroughly with soap and water after visiting the bathroom could be a source of virus transmission, said John Nicholls, a clinical professor of pathology at the University of Hong Kong.

China Market Support (3:15 p.m. HK)

China’s central bank will supply 1.2 trillion yuan ($174 billion) to money markets on Monday, according to a statement on Sunday. The China Securities Regulatory Commission said it’s on high alert for abnormal reaction on Monday, when markets reopen. The decision to reopen markets comes after weighing all factors, it said, adding it’s studied measures to hedge risks and ease panic.

More Global Infections (1:15 p.m. HK)

India reported a second coronavirus case in a patient with a travel history to China. The patient is in a stable condition, it said. It said Chinese passport holders and those who reside in China who have electronic visas to India won’t be able to come over.

Vietnam said a 73-year-old Vietnamese American was tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Jan. 31, more than two weeks after transiting in Wuhan. He had a two-hour stopover at a Wuhan airport on the way to Vietnam from the U.S on Jan. 15. That brings the total there to seven.

South Korea has 15 confirmed cases now. From Feb. 4, the country will temporarily ban foreigners who have visited or stayed in Hubei within 14 days from entering, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said. Seoul will also suspend its no-visa favor for Chinese tourists to Jeju Island for now, he said.

Hong Kong Hints at Tighter Travel Curbs (1 p.m. HK)

A Hong Kong executive council member said that residents should avoid traveling to the mainland or risk having difficulties returning to the city, according to an RTHK report, a sign the government could ramp up border control restrictions. Lam Ching-choi said on Sunday that possible measures include shortening opening times for ports, limiting transportation and introducing laws to curb cross border traffic, the report said.

Medical Supply Allocations (11:50 p.m. HK)

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Sunday called for all-out efforts to improve the allocation of key medical supplies such as protective suits and facial masks, especially for medical workers on the front-line. The Chinese government vowed to “severely” deal with those who hiked prices, or hoard and profiteer on such goods.

Medical equipment has been in severe shortage in Wuhan and other virus-hit areas. Production of medical supplies are currently at 60% after an early resumption of the manufacturing during the holiday, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said Sunday.

WHO Reports Death in the Philippines (10:35 a.m. HK)

The World Health Organization said a 44-year-old male, a known resident of Wuhan, experienced fever, cough and a sore throat before beingadmitted to San Lazaro Hospital in Manila. He died on Feb. 1.

He was the second confirmed case of the virus in the Philippines and a close contact of the first infection in the country, also a Wuhan resident.

Just hours before the announcement of the death, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte widened his travel ban previously imposed on visitors from Hubei province to all of China, including Hong Kong and Macau, while prohibiting Filipinos to travel to those areas. Returning citizens and permanent residents must be quarantined.

--With assistance from Alfred Liu, Miaojung Lin, Debby Wu, Dandan Li, Abeer Abu Omar, Sara Marley and Helene Fouquet.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Steve Geimann in Washington at sgeimann@bloomberg.net;Michelle Fay Cortez in Minneapolis at mcortez@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Shamim Adam at sadam2@bloomberg.net, Andrew Davis

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