Via Financial Times

Australia monitoring Indonesia as country insists it has no coronavirus cases

Primrose Riordan report from Hong Kong:

Australia health authorities said they are monitoring whether the coronavirus had hit Indonesia after the country insisted again it did not have any cases yesterday — in contrast to other nations in Southeast Asia.

Australia’s deputy chief medical officer Paul Kelly said authorities had discussions with Indonesia on Tuesday.

“We worked with Indonesian authorities yesterday and confirmed they did have testing available both in their reference laboratory in Jakarta and also in regional laboratories including Surabaya so that’s available,” Mr Kelly said.

“So far the official stance from Jakarta and from Indonesia is they have no cases and we’re monitoring that on a daily basis.”

Indonesian authorities said it has tested samples of suspected cases and has previously evacuated and quarantined Indonesian citizens who were in Hubei, the Chinese province where Wuhan is located.

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Number of confirmed cases in China climbs above 44,000

The number of confirmed coronavirus infections in China has hit 44,653, a rise of 2,015 from the previous day. The death toll has increased by 97 to 1,113.

The data, which track confirmed cases and deaths as of the end of the day on Tuesday, come after the head of the World Health Organization said on Tuesday the outbreak poses a “very grave threat for the rest of the world” and China struggles to contain the outbreak.

Japan to refuse entry to travellers from China’s Zhejiang province

Robin Harding reports from Tokyo:

Japan plans to refuse entry to anyone who has recently travelled to Zhejiang province in China as it steps up its efforts to keep out the coronavirus.

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Prime minister Shinzo Abe announced the decision at a meeting of the government’s anti-coronavirus task force on Wednesday morning, expanding its restrictions beyond Hubei province, where the virus originated.

Zhejiang is a coastal province of China, hundreds of kilometres from Hubei, and has reported 1,131 cases of coronavirus to date according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

US security adviser says China has snubbed American health officials

Katrina Manson reports from Washington:

US national security adviser Robert O’Brien said in a talk at the Atlantic Council that China still will not let US health officials in to help with the coronavirus outbreak, and that China is still relentless in its efforts to compete with the US even as it tries to deal with the virus.

Mr O’Brien said he expects the virus will have some effects on the global supply chain as China plays a “critical role in the world economy”. “We’ll have to wait and see how it plays out and whether alternate suppliers can be found…There’s no doubt that the virus could have an impact on the US economy and also on the world economy,” he said.

The virus could also have an effect on the recently signed “Phase 1” trade deal between the US and China.

“It’s not going to change the Phase 1 deal…We’ll have to see how that plays out,” said O’Brien, adding that China needed to import more food partly because of a swine flu outbreak that has hurt the domestic pork industry. “We expect the Phase 1 deal will allow China to import more food and open those markets to American farmers, but certainly as we watch this coronavirus outbreak unfold in China it could have an impact on how big, at least in this current year, the purchases are.”

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Mr O’Brien added that the US is worried about Uighurs, a mostly Muslim ethnic group, in camps being vulnerable to the coronavirus. Scholars last year estimated that about 1.5 million Uighurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Hui and other mostly Muslim minorities in China had been interned in camps.

“We’re worried about them [Uighurs] now as this corona outbreak takes place. What’s going to happen to the Uighurs in the concentration camps living in close quarters? Are they going to get the medical treatment they need? Are they going to be isolated from the spread of the virus? We don’t know; we’re not on the ground there.”

Vitamin maker Blackmores says coronavirus disruptions will hit profits

Jamie Smyth reports from Sydney:

Australian vitamin producer Blackmores warned on Wednesday that the coronavirus outbreak in China and problems at one of its manufacturing plants would dent full year profits, prompting a 16 per cent plunge in its share price.

The Sydney-based company said it expects to make A$17-21m ($11.4m-14.1m) net profit after tax in full-year 2020, down from A$53m a year earlier. Disruption linked to the coronavirus is expected to last at least 2-3 months, said Blackmores.

“While the outbreak has resulted in increased demand for key immunity products in Australia and Asia, the impact of the sales has been countered by supply chain disruptions across the region as a result of the contagion,” said Alastair Symington, Blackmores chief executive.

Blackmores said some e-commerce partners have cancelled or modified February promotions with a slowdown of China inbound and internal freight, which has made it difficult to serve the local market demand with much needed profit.

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Blackmores shares were down 16.5 per cent at A$74.68 in morning trading on the ASX.

US postal deliveries to China and Hong Kong disrupted

Primrose Riordan reports:

The US Postal Service has said its deliveries to both mainland China and Hong Kong have been disrupted due to the coronavirus outbreak.

A number of airlines have suspended flights to China and last week American Airlines temporarily suspended flights to Hong Kong from Dallas and Los Angeles.
In a statement, USPS said it could not guarantee some of its deliveries due to the flight cancellations.

“USPS will be temporarily suspending the guarantee on priority mail express international destines for China and Hong Kong, effective Monday February 10, 2020, due to widespread airline cancellations and restrictions into this area,” the service said.

Japan quarantine officer among 39 new coronavirus cases on cruise ship

Robin Harding reports from Tokyo:

A quarantine officer working on the Diamond Princess cruise ship has caught the coronavirus as Japan confirmed another 39 infections among the passengers of the stricken ship. That takes the total number of cases on board to 174 out of 492 passengers tested.

Those infected will be moved to hospital. The Diamond Princess, which still has more than 3,500 passengers and crew on board, has been in quarantine in Yokohama since February 3.