Deaths from coronavirus in China exceed 1,000 while investors seek security in gold and dollars

BEIJING/GENEVA: The death toll in China exceeded 1,000, since the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that the spread of cases outside of China could be the spark that turns into a major fire and said that the human race should not allow the epidemic to get out of control.

The province, the epicenter of the outbreak, reported 103 deaths on Monday, the most in a single day, after 91 deaths on Sunday. But 2,097 new cases were reduced compared to the previous day, when there were 2,618.

It is not the first time that new cases fall. Hubei reported 2,841 cases on February 7 and 2,147 the next day.

There are now more than 42,000 confirmed cases in China, as well as 319 cases in 24 other countries, including one death, according to WHO and Chinese health officials.

The Diamond Princess cruise ship with 3,700 passengers and crew on board remained in quarantine in the Japanese port of Yokohama, with 65 more cases detected, bringing the number of confirmed cases of the vessel owned by Carnival Corp to 135.

While scientists compete to develop tests and treatments, WHO says 168 laboratories worldwide have the right technology to diagnose the virus. Companies have been struggling to find the clinical virus samples needed to validate the diagnostic tests they have developed.

Concerns about investors kept on the brink with safe shelters such as rising gold and the dollar that reached a maximum of four months against the euro on Monday.

In Europe, the shares of automotive companies exposed to China collapsed, while oil, iron ore and copper prices fell due to concerns about weaker Chinese demand due to the outbreak.

Wall Street increased optimism for corporate profits and the economy, with the Nasdaq reaching a record.

British Airways canceled all its flights to mainland China until the end of March.

Wu Fan, vice-dean of the Shanghai Fudan University medical school, said there was hope for a tipping point in the outbreak. But the head of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said Monday that there were worrying cases of transmission of people who had not been to China.

It could be the spark that turns into a bigger fire, Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva.

An advanced team of WHO international experts arrived in China to investigate the outbreak. His death toll has now exceeded that of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which killed hundreds worldwide in 2002/2003.

Nervous travelers

Chinese cities have become virtual ghost towns after the Communist Party rulers ordered closures, canceled flights, and closed factories and schools.

Ten additional days were added to the Lunar New Year holidays that were due to end in late January to help stop the spread of the virus. Even on Monday, many workplaces remained closed while people worked from home.

Few travelers challenged the morning rush hour on one of Beijing's busiest subway lines. Everyone wore masks.

A Beijing government official, Zhang Gewho, said it would be more difficult to stop the spread of the virus as people returned to work. The capacity of communities and the flow of people will greatly increase the difficulty, he said.

Hubei, the province of 60 million people most affected by the outbreak, remains in a virtual closure, with its train stations and airports closed and roads sealed.

The central bank of China has taken steps to support the economy, including reducing interest rates and market liquidity, and will now also provide special funds for banks to lend to businesses.

President Xi Jinping He said the government would avoid large-scale layoffs, Chinese state television reported.

Xi appeared on television inspecting the work of community leaders in Beijing and wearing a mask while taking his temperature. He said China will strive to meet the economic and social goals for the year.

A senior economist has said that growth can decrease to 5% or less in the first quarter.

More than 300 Chinese companies, including Meituan Dianping, China's largest food delivery company, and smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp were seeking loans totaling at least 57.4 billion yuan ($ 8.2 billion), sources said Bank

The e-commerce firm Alibaba said its subsidiary, the MYBank unit of Ant Financial, would offer 20 billion yuan ($ 2.86 billion) in loans to companies in China, with preferential terms for Hubei firms.

Apple's largest iPhone manufacturer, Foxconn, has been approved to resume production in Zhengzhou City, in eastern China, but only 10% of the workforce managed to return, a source said. Foxconn, formally Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd, obtained approval to resume partial production in the southern city of Shenzhen as of Tuesday.

A prolonged and widespread outbreak of coronavirus could affect the Japanese economy and affect tourism, retail trade and exports, said an official of the International Monetary Fund. Canada said the outbreak will affect tourism and its oil industry.

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