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Coronavirus damages cruise ships, car manufacturers and airlines

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — Authorities put thousands of passengers and crew aboard two Asian cruise ships in quarantine on Wednesday as a precaution due to the Coronavirus, which appeared in China, while airlines, automakers and other global companies are counting the cost of the virus’s rapid spread.

The National Health Commission of China announced 65 new deaths on Tuesday, taking the number of deaths on the Chinese mainland to 490, mostly in the central city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, and around the virus after it emerged late last year.

Two people died outside the Chinese mainland due to HIV infection after visiting Wuhan, one is a man in the Philippines who died last week and the other is 39 years old and died on Tuesday in Hong Kong.

The virus has disrupted air travel, with more than 20 airlines announcing suspension or curtailment of flights to China, while several countries, including the United States, have banned anyone from visiting China over the past two weeks.

Taiwan has announced a ban on entry to mainland residents from Thursday.

The turmoil extended this week to include cruise ships, where about 3,700 people were quarantined for two weeks on a ship moored off the coast of Japan, after health officials confirmed that 10 people were infected with the virus.

Passengers aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship posted pictures on the Internet to officials, wearing masks and wearing protective clothing, as they were conducting medical checks. The pictures show the deck empty.

“This is not a good situation,” said a British passenger, David Abel, in a video snapped in his cabin and posted on Facebook.

In Hong Kong, more than 3,600 passengers and crew of a cruise ship anchored off the city coast were detained pending examination, after it was confirmed earlier that three of them were infected with the virus.

Hong Kong’s national airline, Cathay Pacific Airways, has asked its 27,000 employees for an unpaid vacation for three weeks, saying conditions are now appalling, as they were during the 2009 financial crisis.

American Airlines and United Airlines announced the suspension of all flights to and from Hong Kong after the end of this week, in a move that means that there is no longer any American airline to carry passengers to the city, which is a financial center in Asia.

Factories stop

The Chinese stock market lost about $ 700 billion of its value on Monday, with several factories closing their doors, isolating cities and imposing travel restrictions, which fueled concerns about global supply chains. Asian stock markets stabilized somewhat on Wednesday.

Hyundai Motor will suspend production in South Korea, where its largest manufacturing bases are, becoming the first major automaker outside China to make the move after parts supplies are disrupted by the outbreak of the Coronavirus.

A large number of global car manufacturers, including Hyundai, Tesla, Ford, PSA Peugeot Citroen, Nissan, Japan and Honda Motor, have already suspended operations in some of their factories in China this week in line with government instructions.

Airbus aircraft maker said it had suspended the final assembly line for its aircraft in Tianjin, China.

A person familiar with the matter said that the Taiwanese company Foxconn, which manufactures Apple smartphones and other brands and that suspended production in China “almost completely”, aims to restart its factories in China next week, but it may take a week or two or more to resume production completely.

The German company, Adidas, for the manufacture of clothing and sports equipment, said it would temporarily close a “large” number of its warehouses in China.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said the virus would delay the prospect of prosperity for US exports to China as a result of the first stage of the trade agreement between the two countries.

European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said the virus exacerbated economic uncertainty.

“While the threat of a trade war between the United States and China has diminished, the Corona virus adds a new layer of uncertainty,” she added in Paris.

Transmission between humans

Evidence of human-to-human transmission outside China emerged after an international business meeting in Singapore in January linked news of HIV cases in Malaysia and South Korea, and authorities have not commented.

Singapore, one of the countries hardest hit by severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outside China in 2003, reportedly had 28 cases of the new coronavirus.

The Singapore Ministry of Health confirmed four new cases of the disease on Wednesday, including a six-month-old baby. She explained that the sick parents, who are also from Singapore, are infected with the virus.

On the Chinese mainland, 3,887 new cases were confirmed, bringing the total number of cases to 24,324 people.

Reuters statistics, which were based on official data from the relevant authorities, revealed that there are about 230 HIV cases reported in 27 countries and regions outside the mainland.

The World Health Organization has declared the virus a global health emergency, and experts say its characteristics have not yet been clear, including mortality and transmission. Official Chinese media reported that the virus could be transmitted from a pregnant mother to her unborn baby.

“There are no known effective treatments for this (virus),” said WHO spokesman Tariq Gurevich.

According to the Interfax news agency, Russia said it would take between eight and ten months to develop a vaccine for the disease. Dozens of Russians began being held in quarantine for two weeks in Siberia on Wednesday after being transferred from Wuhan, China.

Beijing has criticized the travel restrictions imposed by the United States on foreign citizens who visited China, describing it as an overreaction and called on Washington to do more to help it.

A plane carrying about 350 Americans, representing the latest US group to be evacuated from Wuhan, landed in California on Wednesday.

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