Chinese markets slump as coronavirus cases surge

A few Chinese wearing protective face masks visit a normally bustling, international shopping mall in Beijing on Friday. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI
A few Chinese wearing protective face masks visit a normally bustling, international shopping mall in Beijing on Friday. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 3 (UPI) -- Markets in China were slammed Monday as the Asian nation reels from a coronavirus outbreak that has claimed 362 lives worldwide.

Chinese health officials announced Monday that 57 people had died since the day prior, raising the death toll to 361 in China. The Philippines also confirmed the first death outside of China on Sunday.


The markets in China have been closed since Jan. 23 for the Lunar New Year -- well before the mysterious new virus had killed more than two dozen people and nearly a week before the World Health Organization declared a global health emergency. But when they opened Monday morning, stocks in Shanghai plummeted 8.7 percent and shares in Shenzhen fell 9 percent making it China's worst day since August 2015.

More than 2,600 stocks took a dive to the daily limit of 10 percent, Bloomberg reported.


The People's Bank of China said it poured $173 billion into its economy on Monday to "maintain reasonable and adequate liquidity" of its banking system as the country attempts to prevent the outbreak from becoming an epidemic.

The bank also lowered the seven-day reverse repo operations rate to 2.4 percent from 2.5 percent and the 14-day rate to 2.55 percent from 2.65 percent, it said in a press release.

"The situation is terrible, and China's economy will be dealt a bad blow," AxiCorp's chief market strategist Stephen Innes told South China Morning Post.

The market slide comes as Chinese health officials said the coronavirus outbreak has killed more than the 349 lives claimed by the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, better known as SARS, that shook the nation from 2002 to 2003.

The number of confirmed cases nationwide grew by 2,829 through Sunday to 17,205, Chinese health officials said. Hubei Province, the epicenter of the outbreak, accounted for 2,103 of the new cases and 56 deaths, 41 of which were reported in Wuhan, home to a seafood and animal market that is believed to be where the virus emerged from.

Health officials said 2,296 patients remain in serious condition while 476 other patients have been cured and discharged from the hospital.


Wuhan has been under a widening lockdown since Jan. 22 that has grown to encompass all major cities in Hubei, home some 62 million people, and countries are attempting to repatriate their citizens from the province amid tightening travel restrictions and airlines mass canceling flights to the region.

Chinese officials gave the first batch of some 200 Taiwanese citizens under lockdown in Wuhan permission to leave the country through Wuhan Tianhe International Airport, according to Taiwan News.

Canada also said it has chartered a flight to evacuate its citizens from Wuhan where the airspace is currently closed.

The plane is standing by and will land in Hanoi, Vietnam, before deploying for Wuhan, once it receives permission to do so from China, Global Affairs Canada said in a statement.

The plane was charted after 325 Canadians in Hubei requested assistance to leave the country. Canadian government officials and military personnel were on their way to Hanoi and were obtaining the requested visas from the government of China to enter Wuhan, it said.

Returning Canadians will be subjected to health screenings before boarding, during the flight and upon arrival at the airport in Trenton, Ontario, some 105 miles east of Toronto, according to foreign ministry officials.


Those who require medical attention will be transferred to the healthcare system on arrival while everyone else, including staff and flight crew, will remain under medical observation for 14 days at the Trenton airport, officials said.

"The government of Canada takes the health and safety of Canadians, both at home and abroad, very seriously," said Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Phillippe Champagne. "We are taking action to return Canadians home from Wuhan, China, while ensuring that appropriate measures are in place to prevent and limit the spread of the novel coronavirus."

More than 25 countries have reported at least one confirmed case of the virus, and to prevent it from spreading further, countries are restricting travel access to Chinese nationals and those who have recently visited the Asian nation.

On Monday, New Zealand implemented a temporary entry ban on all foreign nationals traveling from or transiting through mainland China in an attempt to stop the disease from spreading to the island nation, which has yet to report a confirmed case of the virus.

The restriction will be in place 14 days for all foreign travelers who left China after Sunday and it will be reviewed every 48 hours, Immigration New Zealand said.


The Maldives also implemented similar entry restrictions on Monday for any foreign nationals arriving at any of its entry points from China ontop of its having already suspended incoming direct flights from the Asian nation.

The restrictions come as Air New Zealand added its name to the growing list of airline companies to cancel routes with China by suspending its Auckland to Shanghai route effective immediately until March 29, it said in a media release.

Meanwhile, India confirmed its third cases of the coronavirus, known as 2019-nCoV, on Monday, according to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

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