Global stock markets plunge as coronavirus spreads across the world
This has been one of the worst weeks for global stocks since the 2008 financial crisis. Markets are shaky amid fears that the coronavirus outbreak could turn into a global pandemic.
Stock markets around the world are suffering big declines amid investor concerns over the coronavirus outbreak. A historic fall in US stocks on Thursday caused shockwaves through Asia Pacific markets on Friday, with drops in major exchanges across the region.
Reports say that it has been one of the worst weeks for global stocks since the 2008 financial crisis. Markets are shaky amid fears that the outbreak could turn into a global pandemic.
Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225, South Korea's Kospi and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 each lost more than 3%.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng dropped 2.49%, while China's Shanghai Composite slid 3.7%.
This followed a record drop in the US. The Dow dropped 1,191 points on Thursday, in its worst one-day point drop in history, while the S&P 500 posted its worst day since 2011.
European shares dove by 3% as they opened on Friday. Germany's Dax index opened with a drop of 3.6% and France's Cac 40 index fell 3.1%.
The pan-regional STOXX 600 is on track to record its biggest weekly drop since the peak of the 2008 financial crisis.
Ratings agency Moody’s said a pandemic -- usually taken to mean a disease spreading quickly in different places -- would trigger global and US recessions in the first half of the year.
There have been more than 83,000 global cases, with infections in every continent except Antarctica.
Mainland China -- where the virus originated late last year -- reported 327 new cases, the lowest since January 23, taking its tally to more than 78,800 cases with almost 2,800 deaths.
Four more countries reported first cases on Friday, taking the number of countries and territories outside China with infections to 55, with more than 4,200 cases killing about 70 people.
Countries other than China now account for about three-quarters of new infections.
An Italian man who arrived in Nigeria this week was confirmed as the first coronavirus case in Africa’s most populous country. And a person who returned on a flight from Iran became the first in New Zealand.
In eastern Europe, Belarus and Lithuania reported their first cases.
World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said all nations should prepare.
“This virus has pandemic potential. This is not a time for fear. This is a time for taking action to prevent infection and save lives now,” Tedros said on Thursday.
Mongolia's President in self-isolation
Mongolia, which has yet to confirm a case, placed its president, Battulga Khaltmaa, in quarantine as a precaution after he returned from a trip to China, state media reported.
US President Donald Trump’s administration was considering invoking special powers to expand production of protective gear.
Situation in Europe
In Europe, France’s reported cases doubled, Germany warned of an impending epidemic and Greece, a gateway for refugees from the Middle East, announced tighter border controls.
The death toll in Italy, Europe’s worst-hit country, rose to 17 and the number tested positive increased by more than 200 to 655. Germany has about 45 cases, France about 38 and Spain 23, according to a Reuters count.
In Iran, Vice President contracts coronavirus
Iran has suffered the most deaths outside China - 26 from 245 reported cases. Among the latest coronavirus sufferers in Iran is one of the country’s seven Vice Presidents, Massoumeh Ebtekar, who oversees women's affairs.
South Korea has the most cases outside China, and reported 571 new infections on Friday, bringing the total to 2,337. The outbreak has killed 13 people in South Korea.
Meanwhile, Japan is scheduled to host the 2020 Olympics in July but discussions were being held with organizers about whether to go ahead.
Olympic organizers will decide next week on the ceremonial torch relay. It is due to arrive on March 20 for a 121-day journey past landmarks including Mount Fuji and Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park.
As of Friday, confirmed cases in Japan topped 200, with four deaths, excluding more than 700 cases and four more deaths from a quarantined cruise liner, Diamond Princess.
Tokyo Disneyland will close from Saturday to March 15.
In Canada, the government is still recommending citizens avoid non-essential travel to China. The Public Health Agency of Canada updated its list of travel health notices for COVID-19 to include seven destinations: Iran, Hong Kong, China, Northern Italy, South Korea, Japan and Singapore.