There are now 31,424 confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide and at least 638 people have died, according to the latest figures from the World Health Organization (WHO).
The number of cases and deaths in China continues to rise — China’s National Health Commission’s most recent update cited 31,161 cases and 636 deaths — as companies with exposure to China warn investors about the potential financial fallout of manufacturing delays, canceled flights, store closures and waning sales.
The virus was first identified in December in Wuhan, a city in Central China. It has now spread to 24 countries, although the majority of illnesses and deaths are in Hubei Province, which is where Wuhan is located. There are 12 confirmed cases in the U.S.
The latest concern is a worldwide shortage of personal protective equipment, like masks, gowns, and gloves, according to comments made Friday by Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO’s director-general, on Twitter. Foxconn, best known as Apple Inc.’s AAPL, -0.69% manufacturing partner for iPhones, also said Friday on WeChat that it will begin manufacturing surgical masks alongside Apple products at its factory in Shenzhen. The aim is to make 2 million masks per day by the end of February.
China is facing criticism about its initial response to the outbreak following the death of Dr. Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist in Wuhan who was reportedly reprimanded by authorities after he raised concerns about the virus. He died Feb. 7, according to a statement published on Weibo by the Wuhan General Hospital, the hospital treating him. Even before his death, Dr. Li was viewed as a symbol of Chinese frustration and fear about the outbreak. “He was our hero,” a doctor told The Wall Street Journal.
What to look out for next week:
• The Lunar New Year holiday in China, which had been extended for a week because of the outbreak, is expected to end Sunday, Feb. 9.
• There were 774 deaths reported during the 2002 and 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), a type of coronavirus. It is likely that deaths caused by this coronavirus may surpass the SARS figure over the weekend.
Passengers on cruise lines tested for coronavirus:
• Some passengers on a Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. RCL, -3.54% ship in Bayonne, N.J., were screened for the coronavirus, according to Mayor Jimmy Davis on Twitter. He said that about two dozen people were screened for the virus, four were sent to area hospitals for additional screening, and remaining passengers were released. A “family has a travel history to mainland China, but not a history of travel to Hubei Province,” a spokesperson for Royal Caribbean said in an email, adding that health officials are testing all four family members for the virus.
• Princess Cruises, which is part of Carnival Corp. CCL, -3.72%, confirmed there are 41 new confirmed cases of coronavirus on its Diamond Princess ship in Yokohama, Japan. Of that group, 21 are from Japan, eight from the U.S., five from Australia, five from Canada, one from Argentina and one from the United Kingdom, a spokesperson said Thursday. The remaining patients will be quarantined until Feb. 19.
Virus worries weigh on 2020 performance for companies:
• Canada Goose Holdings Inc. GOOS, -4.92% lowered its full-year outlook, citing a “material negative impact” from the coronavirus outbreak. The luxury apparel company told investors it is seeing “a sharp decline in customer traffic and purchasing activity,” including both bricks-and-mortar stores and online. It now expects full-year revenue growth of 13.8% to 15.0%, compared with previous guidance of at least 20% growth. – Tomi Kilgore
• VF Corp. VFC, -1.17%, which operates the sneaker brand Vans, has closed 60% of its owned and partner stores in China. The shops that have remained open are reporting “significant” declines in retail traffic. – Ciara Linnane
• Pacific Biosciences of California Inc. PACB, -2.07%, a gene-sequencing company, said that the Chinese market represents one-quarter of its revenue. “That may be largely inaccessible until the outbreak subsides and normal commerce resumes,” CEO Michael Hunkapiller told investors.
• Tyson Foods Inc. TSN, +1.33% told investors it has restarted some of its operations in China. CEO Noel White said during an earnings call that he predicts the company will face short-term impacts from the outbreak, but the fallout from the virus may eventually help support government efforts in China to “decrease” the number of wet markets. Researchers believe that the virus, common to bats, may have been transmitted to humans via another animal sold at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, a wet market in Wuhan. “We’ll continue to see modern grocery continue to grow in China,” White said, “The combination of [African swine fever] and coronavirus would expedite that transition.”
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