Coronavirus health crisis could pummel the global economy

Infections from China’s coronavirus spread to more than 9650 people globally on Thursday, surpassing the 2002-2003 SARS epidemic’s total in a fast-spreading health crisis forecast to pummel the world’s second-largest economy.

SARS also came from China, killing about 800 people and costing the global economy an estimated $33 billion.

Economists fear the impact could be bigger this time as China now accounts for a larger share of the world economy. Markets have been spooked since news of the virus emerged earlier this month.

One government analyst has forecast the crisis would lop a percentage point off China’s first-quarter growth. Global stocks tumbled on Thursday, while the yuan hit its lowest this year and oil prices slid.

Companies have also been rattled and Alphabet Inc’s Google and Sweden’s IKEA were the latest big names to close China operations. South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co Ltd extended its Lunar New Year holiday closure for some Chinese production facilities.

Airlines to suspend flights to mainland China include Air France, Lufthansa, Air Canada, American Airlines and British Airways.

Thousands of factory workers currently on Lunar New Year holidays may struggle to get back to work next week due to travel restrictions.

China dominated US Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s news conference on Wednesday. When China’s economy slows down we do feel that, he said.

Chinese cities were largely deserted, with tourist attractions shut and Starbucks coffee shops also shut to help the government contain the virus.

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