What is the coronavirus illness blamed for multiple deaths in China?

Officials in China are racing to contain a deadly new strain of virus that has infected more than 2,000 people and left at least 80 dead. Chinese officials have blocked all transportation in and out of the city of Wuhan and surrounding areas, where the outbreak of the “2019 novel coronavirus” or “2019-nCoV” originated. 

As of Sunday, five cases of the illness have been confirmed in the United States — all in people who had recently traveled from Wuhan, China. U.S. health officials confirmed the first case on Tuesday, involving a man in his 30s in Seattle. The second case was confirmed Friday in a woman in her 60s in Chicago. Health officials said she was “doing well.” Over the weekend, two additional cases were confirmed n California and one in Arizona.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday that more than 60 people in 22 states were being monitored for possible infection.

Health officials believe the virus was initially transmitted from animals to humans, but that human-to-human transmission of the flu-like illness is now occurring.

Chinese city quarantines 11 million as virus spreads

Here’s what you need to know:

What is a coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that can cause illnesses as minor as a cold, or as serious as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), according to the World Health Organization. They often present with pneumonia-like symptoms.

The viruses can be transmitted from animals to humans; the virus that causes SARS, for example, was originally transmitted to humans from a cat-like animal called a civet. But in some instances, as appears to be the case with this new strain of coronavirus, they can also be transmitted between humans. 

The World Health Organization said there are multiple known coronaviruses circulating in animals that have not yet been transmitted to humans.

How did the new strain start?

The outbreak began in Wuhan, a city of 11 million people. Many of the early patients were reportedly linked to Hua Nan Seafood Wholesale Market, a large seafood and animal market in the city, according to CBS News’ Ramy Inocencio. But since then, a rising number of people have apparently contracted the virus without exposure to the market.

The market was closed on January 1, 2020 for “environmental sanitation and disinfection,” according to the World Health Organization

How many people have died?

At least 80 people have died from the illness, according to Chinese officials. Most of those deaths occurred in Wuhan, which is in the Hubei province. The first death was reported January 9. 

Where is it?

While the virus originated in the Wuhan area of central China, cases have also been reported in Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia, Nepal, Singapore, the U.S., Australia and France. 

First U.S. case of deadly coronavirus diagnosed in Washington state

How is it transmitted?

It’s well-established that coronaviruses can spread from animals to humans, according to the World Health Organization. But health officials confirmed there have been cases in which this virus has spread from human to human. 

Chinese state-run media quoted Zhong Nanshan, a scientist at the China’s National Health Commission, as saying such transmission was “affirmative.” The scientist did not say how many cases were the result of human-to-human transmission — but in one case, a hospital patient is said to have infected 14 medical workers, reports Inocencio.

What’s being done to stop the spread? 

The World Health Organization convened an emergency committee on the virus in Geneva, Switzerland. It said Thursday that the outbreak does not rise to the level of being designated an international public health emergency, but WHO will continue working with nations to contain it.

Meanwhile in the U.S., the CDC deployed public health workers to screen passengers arriving from Wuhan at five major ports of airline entry: New York-JFK, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta and Chicago-O’Hare.

The CDC said it has developed a test to diagnose the virus. Currently, that test must be administered at the CDC, but the organization is working to share the test with domestic and international partners.

In Hong Kong, which was ravaged by SARS in 2002 and 2003, hospitals upped their alert level to “serious” and implemented temperature checkpoints for inbound travelers.

While China has closed transportation in and out of Wuhan and 12 other cities, there are concerns that as hundreds of millions of people travel around the country to celebrate the Chinese New Year, the virus could spread even faster.

Is it safe to travel?

On Thursday, the CDC issued a level 3 travel warning — its highest level — urging people to avoid all non-essential travel to the city of Wuhan, China, due to the coronavirus outbreak. The federal health agency advises anyone who must go there to avoid contact with sick people, animals, animal markets and animal products.

“Older adults and travelers with underlying health issues may be at risk for more severe disease and should discuss travel to Wuhan with their healthcare provider,” the CDC said.

The agency is urging people to seek medical care right away if they traveled to Wuhan in the past two weeks and have a fever, cough or trouble breathing. It says older adults and people with underlying health conditions may be most at risk for severe illness from the virus.

“Preliminary information suggests that older adults and people with underlying health conditions may be at increased risk for severe disease from this virus,” it said.

U.S. begins airport screenings as coronavirus spreads in China

Ramy Inocencio and Grace Qi contributed to this report. 

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Yen jumps, yuan slumps on worries China struggling to contain virus

By Stanley White

TOKYO (Reuters) – The yen rose and the yuan fell in offshore trade on Monday as worries that China is struggling to contain the spread of a pneumonia-like virus sparked a bout of risk aversion.

Japan’s currency, often sought as a safe-haven in times of uncertainty, rose to the highest in almost three weeks versus the dollar, while the yuan fell to its lowest since Jan. 8.

China’s cabinet announced it will extend the Lunar New Year holidays to Feb. 2, to strengthen the prevention and control of the new coronavirus, state broadcaster CCTV reported early on Monday. The holidays had been due to end on Jan. 30.

Hong Kong has also banned the entry of visitors from China’s Hubei province, where the new coronavirus outbreak was first reported, highlighting the difficulty officials face during a peak travel season.

Health authorities around the world are racing to prevent a pandemic of the virus, which has infected more than 2,000 people in China and killed 76.

There are concerns that tourism and consumer spending could take a hit if the virus spreads further, which would discourage investors from taking on excessive risk.

“There is a lot of uncertainty about how much further the virus will spread, and this is behind the moves in currencies,” said Yukio Ishizuki, foreign exchange strategist at Daiwa Securities in Tokyo.

“I thought dollar/yen would be supported at 109, but it broke through that, so now the next target is 108.50. This risk-off mood is likely to continue for a while.”

The yen rose 0.3% to 108.91 per dollar on Monday, reaching its strongest level since Jan. 8.

Japan’s currency also jumped around 0.5% versus the Australian () and New Zealand dollars () as worries about the virus drew traders toward safe-haven currencies and away from currencies that are more sensitive to risk.

In the offshore market, the yuan fell more than 0.3% to 6.9625 against the dollar, its weakest since Jan 8.

The () against a basket of six major currencies was little changed at 97.884.

Traders said market moves could be exaggerated due to low liquidity, because financial markets in China, Hong Kong, and Australia are closed for holidays.

The virus, which emerged late last year from illegally traded wildlife at an animal market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, has spread to other countries, including Singapore, South Korea, Canada, Japan, and the United States.

China’s Hubei province, where Wuhan is located, said on Monday that 76 people have died and 1,423 new cases of the coronavirus outbreak have been identified as of end of Sunday.

The outbreak has evoked memories of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2002-2003, another coronavirus which broke out in China and killed nearly 800 people in a global pandemic.

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Confirmed death total now 41 in China (from 26 previously)

A rise of 15 from the last official estimate.

CNBC is reporting that the  death toll from the coronavirus has been raised to 41 in China. That is up from 26 previously (a gain of 15). 

The number of new confirmed cases in the province also rose by 180, including 77 in Wuhan city.

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China locking down cities in unprecedented bid to contain virus

Authorities in China are locking down at least three cities in an extraordinary bid to halt the spread of the deadly coronavirus, which has left at least 25 dead in the country and sickened hundreds of others. The move is unprecedented and affects more than 18 million people.

The U.S. has confirmed one case, and several others have popped up in Asian countries — all among people who visited Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak.

Authorities believe the virus, which causes flu-like symptoms, jumped into the human population from an infected animal at a market in Wuhan. The entire city of 11 million people is now locked down, with transport links cut and authorities saying no one can leave. Authorities announced similar measures will go into effect on Friday in the nearby cities of Ezho and Huanggang.

Chinese health officials and the World Health Organization confirmed this week the virus has been transmitted person-to-person, but it remains unclear how easy it is to contract it from another infected individual.

Many countries, including the U.S., are screening people traveling from China for symptoms.

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Euro near seven-week low after ECB; China virus worries linger

© Reuters. Euro currency bills are pictured at the Croatian National Bank in Zagreb © Reuters. Euro currency bills are pictured at the Croatian National Bank in Zagreb

By Hideyuki Sano

TOKYO (Reuters) – The euro hovered near a seven-week low against the dollar on Friday after the European Central Bank was seen as more cautious than expected, while anxiety over China’s coronavirus outbreak propped up the safe-haven yen.

The euro changed hands at $ 1.1055 (), having touched a seven-week low of $ 1.1036 on Thursday. The currency flirted with five-week low against the British pound () and 33-month low against the Swiss franc ().

The ECB launched a broad review of its policy, seeking to redefine its main goal and how to achieve it, as years of the central bank’s experiment with negative interest rates and quantitative easing have failed to deliver targeted inflation levels.

ECB President Christine Lagarde told a news conference that risks to growth in the euro zone remained tilted to the downside and traders took her overall tone as dovish.

“Some people were hoping that Lagarde could talk about the possibility of policy normalization after Riksbank ended negative interest rates late last year. But there was absolutely no such indication from her,” said Kazushige Kaida, head of foreign exchange at State Street (NYSE:) Bank.

Riksbank, the central bank of Sweden, ended five years of negative interest rates last month, despite a slowdown in the Swedish economy, a decision which many investors thought was made to allay concerns about side-effects such as housing bubble damages to pension funds.

Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) data from Germany and the euro zone due later on Friday is the next focus for the currency.

The common currency was also undermined by the coronavirus threat in China because some countries in the bloc, notably Germany, have big trade exposures to the Asian economic giant.

Concerns about the spread of the new disease bolstered the yen, which traded at 109.45 yen to the dollar , having risen to a two-week high of 109.26 on Thursday.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Thursday it was “a bit too early” to declare the new virus a global health emergency, providing financial markets with some relief.

Yet many investors were anxious as the epidemic spreads within China, killing 25 people in China and infecting more than 800.

“The Lunar New Year holiday in China has just begun and they say the virus could be latent for about a week. So at least for the next couple of weeks it will be difficult to gauge how much the new disease will have spread,” said Shinichiro Kadota, senior FX strategist at Barclays (LON:).

“That suggests the yen is likely to have a strengthening bias during this period,” he added.

Chinese financial markets will be closed through Thursday. Many other markets in the region will be shut on Monday.

The was little changed at 6.9275 per dollar , after touching a two-week low of 6.9423 on Thursday.

The Australian dollar fetched $ 0.6843 , having erased all of the gains made after a firm payrolls figure the previous day, and was on track for a fourth consecutive week of losses.

Elsewhere, sterling traded at $ 1.3121 , little changed on the day but up 0.9% so far this week as solid UK economic data prompted traders to wind back expectations of a rate cut by the Bank of England at its policy meeting next week.

UK PMI data, due at 9:30 a.m. local time (0930GMT) on Friday, will be closely watched for any clues on the BoE’s next policy decision on Jan. 30.

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What is coronavirus, the mystery illness sweeping through China?

The city of Wuhan, China, is racing to contain the potential spread of a deadly new strain of virus that has infected more than 200 people. Over the weekend, the number of cases of the “2019 novel coronavirus” or “2019-nCoV” quadrupled — and on Monday, a Chinese scientist confirmed cases of human-to-human transmission of the illness. 

There have been no confirmed cases of the virus outside Asia, but officials have been screening airport passengers to prevent the virus from spreading to the U.S. Here’s what you need to know:

What is a coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that can cause illnesses as minor as a cold, or as serious as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), according to the World Health Organization. They often present with pneumonia-like symptoms.

Trending News

The viruses are transmitted from animals to humans — the virus that causes SARS, for example, was transmitted to humans from a cat-like animal called a civet. But in some instances, as appears to be the case with this new strain of coronavirus, they can also be transmitted between humans. 

The World Health Organization said there are multiple known coronaviruses circulating in animals that have not yet been transmitted to humans.

How did the new strain start?

The outbreak began in Wuhan, a city of 11 million people. Many of the patients have reportedly been linked to Hua Nan Seafood Wholesale Market, a large seafood and animal market in the city, according to CBS News’ Ramy Inocencio. But a rising number of people have apparently contracted the virus without exposure to the market, according to Chinese officials.

outbreak-coronavirus-wuhan-china.png
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is closely monitoring an outbreak caused by a novel (new) coronavirus first identified in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. CDC

How many people have died?

At least four people have died from the illness, according to the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission

The first patient, a 61-year-old man, died January 9. Two more patients died January 15 and January 18. 

The Commission announced the fourth patient’s death Monday, writing that an 89-year-old man died January 19 after he was admitted to the hospital with severe breathing difficulties a day earlier.

The Commission added that 169 patients are being treated in the local hospital. Thirty-five of those patients are in severe condition, and nine are in critical condition. 

Where is it?

While the virus originated in China, cases have also been reported in Thailand, Japan and South Korea, according to the CDC. 

How is it transmitted?

It’s well-established that coronaviruses spread from animals to humans, according to the World Health Organization. But on Monday, a Chinese official confirmed there have been cases in which the virus has also spread from human to human. 

State-run CCTM quoted Zhong Nanshan, a scientist at the China’s National Health Commission, as saying such transmission was “affirmative.” The scientist did not say how many cases were the result of human-to-human transmission  — but in one case, a hospital patient is said to have infected 14 medical workers, according to Inocencio.

What’s being done to stop the spread? 

The World Health Organization announced Monday that it will convene an Emergency Committee on the virus on January 22 in Geneva, Switzerland, to determine if the outbreak is a public health emergency.

Meanwhile, the CDC has deployed about 100 workers total to screen passengers at the three major ports of airline entry in the U.S.: New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Approximately 5,000 passengers from Wuhan are expected to pass through those airports in the coming weeks. 

The CDC also said it has developed a test to diagnose the virus. Currently, that test must be administered at the CDC — but the organization is working to share the test with domestic and international partners.

In Hong Kong, which was ravaged by SARS in 2002 and 2003, hospitals upped their alert level to “serious” and implemented temperature checkpoints for inbound travelers.

In China, airline workers are running temperature checks on flights leaving Wuhan. But there could be a problem: Hundreds of millions of people are moving through China to celebrate the Chinese New Year, stoking fears that the virus could spread even faster.

U.S. begins airport screenings as coronavirus spreads in China

Ramy Inocencio and Grace Qi contributed to this report. 

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China’s commerce ministry says China welcomes competitive US products into China’s markets

IS there less to this trade deal than we suspect? Not an encouraging headline.

China commerce ministry official 

  • says China welcomes competitive US products to enter china’s markets
  • says China hopes US to create conditions to facilitate imports to china
  •  says China’s purchase of US. agricultural goods will not impact imports from other countries
  • says China will expand imports based on market conditions and in line with WTO rules

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Four dead as mystery illness spreads from China

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U.S. federal agencies on high alert as new cases of Coronavirus spread in China

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Room is limited for further RRR cuts in China: central bank official

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s reserve requirement ratio (RRR) is at appropriate level and there is limited room for further cuts, a central bank official said on Thursday.

China will make timely adjustments to benchmark deposit rates, and should pay more attention to changes in real interest rates when discussing whether to cut interest rates, Sun Guofeng, head of monetary policy department of the People’s Bank of China told a news briefing in Beijing.

Real interest rates have been falling significantly and funding costs for small firms also declining, Sun added.

The PBOC has cut RRR eight times since early 2018, including one earlier this month, to help shore up the cooling economy. Analysts have forecast more this year.

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