With US equity futures limit-down again overnight, the novel coronavirus outbreak is beginning to feel like ‘Groundhog Day’.
And if the market’s performance isn’t enough to get readers doubting their own sanity, some of the novel coronavirus headlines hitting in the early morning and overnight just might do the trick. One day after Chinese health officials reported just a single case of Covid-19 that was transmitted domestically, President Xi has warned that “inbound” cases of the virus – ie foreigners traveling to China who are already infected – are placing China at risk for reinfection. So, after China infected the world, President Xi is warning that the world might soon reinfect China.
Overnight, Hong Kong reported 14 new confirmed cases – its largest single-day jump – after new cases slowed to a trickle in recent weeks. According to the SCMP, all except one of those cases was a foreigner bringing the virus back to HK.
Singapore and Taiwan, which were widely praised for acting swiftly to stamp out the virus via mandatory closures, travel restrictions and – as the NYT explained in a story published Wednesday morning – swiftly tracing and isolating contacts of the recently diagnosed. In South Korea, a spate of new clusters around densely populated Seoul has raised fears about another runaway outbreak, per the SCMP.
The KCDC reported 93 new cases on Wednesday, up from 84 a day earlier and 74 on Monday. The new cases took the total infection caseload to 8,413.
As Republican “deficit-hawks” like Lindsey Graham pushed back against the Trump Administration’s latest ‘helicopter money’ stimulus plan yesterday that will inject $1 trillion into the economy (on top of $300 billion in deferred tax payments), Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin took a page out of the ‘TARP’ playbook and warned a group of GOP senators during a closed-door meeting on Tuesday that the unemployment rate in the US could soar to depression levels of around 20% if they failed to pass the legislation, then promptly leaked his comments to Reuters, with the stipulation that Mnuchin’s comments didn’t represent an official “forecast”, merely one of many worst-case scenarios that could come to pass if the federal government continues to sit on its hands.
In the Middle East, Iran reported another 147 deaths from the virus on Wednesday, bringing its death toll to 1,135. Elsewhere, the Sultanate of Oman entered an almost full lockdown beginning at noon local time on Wednesday as the sultanate imposes the most restrictive measures across the Gulf states to limit the spread of coronavirus after the region recorded its first death outside Iran two days ago.
In the UK, Sainsbury’s supermarket chain said Wednesday that it would begin limiting customer purchases to between 2-3 items to combat hoarding.
Globally, the total number of Covid-19 cases passed 200,000 overnight – more than doubling over two weeks – after health officials around the world reported the largest jump in cases yet, with an additional 15,615 confirmed on Tuesday, and even more confirmations following overnight.