Coronavirus update: China toll mounts as WHO issues grim 'iceberg' warning


Anjalee Khemlani, Yahoo Finance

February 10, 2020


China appears to be fighting an increasingly uphill battle to contain the coronavirus outbreak, as new deaths and infections continue to climb — prompting an ominous warning from the World Health Organization.


As of Monday, the deadly virus has claimed over 1,000 lives and stricken more than 40,000 around the world, officially topping the casualties of the deadly severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak of 2002. Meanwhile, the list of businesses that are curtailing travel and shutting down operations in the world’s second-largest economy is lengthening.


The spiraling crisis drew a grim assessment from WHO director general Tedros Ghebreyesus, who posted on Twitter late Sunday that new yet isolated cases are unrelated to recent travel to China.


The lion’s share of the crisis is concentrated in China. Yet the ballooning impact of the virus threatens to take a bite out of first quarter earnings — as well as global growth — as a wide range of multinational companies pull back from the country. On Monday, food chain Restaurant Brands International (QSR) announced that half its Burger King locations there had been shuttered.


Meanwhile, continued delays of operations at factories has increased the U.S. economy’s exposure, though analysts say that effect is contained — for now. Wall Street expects to see the impact in the first quarter, and a bounce-back in Q2 and beyond.


“This is a vulnerability for the U.S. economy,” Calvin Schnure, a former Fed economist and current Nareit senior vice president, told Yahoo Finance Monday.


“It’s not enough of a vulnerability to cause a recession...but we really don’t have the information and it’s going to take a couple of months before we really see it,” he added.


Peter Chun, founder of Silverbear Capital, told Yahoo Finance the region in and around China is also feeling the pressure, with U.S.-China trade tensions and the Hong Kong protests having a knock-on effect.


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