(Reuters) – The deserted shopping malls and cinemas of South Korea’s Daegu, a city of 2.5 million people, became one of the most striking images outside China of an outbreak that international authorities are trying stop from becoming a global pandemic.
– China’s central Hubei province had 349 new confirmed cases on Wednesday, down from 1,693 a day earlier and lowest since Jan. 25. The death toll rose by 108, down from 132 the previous day, bringing to total in China to over 2,100 deaths and 74,000 cases.
– The new figures include subtracting 279 cases in the province that were not confirmed. No explanation was given.
– The streets of South Korea’s fourth-largest city, Daegu, were abandoned on Thursday, with residents holed up indoors after dozens of people caught the coronavirus.
– Iranian health officials urged all religious gatherings to be suspended in Qom, news agency ISNA said on Thursday, after two more people tested positive for the coronavirus in the holy city, where two died of it this week.
– Hundreds of passengers disembarked a cruise ship in Japan on Wednesday after being held on board in quarantine for more than two weeks.
– Two elderly passengers became the first people from aboard a cruise ship moored near Tokyo to die of the coronavirus.
– Japanese authorities said 79 new cases have been discovered on board, bringing the total to at least 620, well over half of the known cases outside mainland China.
– More than 100 Hong Kong residents who were quarantined on the cruise landed on Thursday morning in the Asian financial hub, where they will face a further 14 days of quarantine.
– South Korea reported on Wednesday the first death in the country of a person infected with coronavirus and 22 new cases bringing the total to 104.
– South Korean chipmaker SK Hynix (000660.KS) said on Thursday that 800 of its workers had quarantined themselves after one trainee had close contact with a virus patient in Daegu, but its production in the city of Icheon has not been affected.
– The epidemic that has already disrupted economic growth in China and spread to other countries, could derail a “highly fragile” projected global recovery in 2020, the International Monetary Fund warned.
– China’s banking sector may face a surge of up to 7.7 trillion yuan ($1.10 trillion) of non-performing loans in 2020 if the coronavirus outbreak doesn’t peak until April, credit agency S&P Global estimated on Thursday.
– The northern Chinese province of Hebei has established a 50 billion yuan ($7.1 billion) special financing vehicle to help the local economy.
– China cut the benchmark lending rate as was widely expected, as the authorities move to lower financing costs for businesses in a virus-hit economy.
– Federal Reserve policymakers acknowledged new risks caused by the virus outbreak but were cautiously optimistic about their ability to hold interest rates steady this year, Fed minutes showed.
– Financial leaders of the world’s 20 largest economies (G20) expect a modest pickup of global growth this year and next, but see the epidemic as a risk.
– China on Thursday called for solidarity with Southeast Asian nations in a special regional meeting in Laos to discuss the coronavirus outbreak.
– China will not send any officials to the G20 meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors in Riyadh to be held on Feb. 22, 23.
– Australia will extend a ban on arrivals from mainland China into a fourth week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday.
– Japan, which is set to host the 2020 Summer Olympics in July, saw its foreign visitor numbers fall for the fourth month in January, with sharper falls expected.
– London’s mayor said the British capital would be ready to host the 2020 Olympics if the virus outbreak forced the Games to be moved from Tokyo.
– China’s finance ministry said it would tackle any misuse of special funds meant to pay for the fight against the virus.
– Foreign pilots at some Chinese airlines have returned to their home countries and are considering other jobs after being placed on unpaid leave as demand falls because of the coronavirus.
– Mongolia will keep all its schools shut until March 30 to prevent the coronavirus from spreading in the country.
– Thailand’s cabinet will vote this month on more measures to prop-up its economy in the aftermath of the coronavirus.
– Italy, the euro zone’s third largest economy, said it may have to cut its 2020 growth forecast if the coronavirus significantly impacts it.
– ExxonMobil, Azerbaijan’s SOCAR and Royal Dutch Shell joined a growing list of oil companies that pulled out of London’s International Petroleum Week, one of the world’s biggest oil industry gatherings.
– Asian stocks slipped and so did the region’s currencies on Thursday, as virus cases rose in South Korea and Japan and investors quit local assets in favor of safety further afield. [MKTS/GLOB]
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