What you need to know about the coronavirus today

  • World
  • Tuesday, 10 Mar 2020

FILE PHOTO: The ultrastructural morphology exhibited by the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China, is seen in an illustration released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. January 29, 2020. Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM/CDC/Handout via REUTERS.

(Reuters) - Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus epidemic today:

Flight over fight

Shares kept falling as the worst week on financial markets in recent memory entered the last trading day. Japan's Nikkei <.N225> was in freefall, dropping 10% following Wall Street stocks and others.

"There is a sense of fear and panic," said James Tao, an analyst at stockbroker Commsec in Sydney, where phones at the high-value client desk rang non-stop.

"It's one of those situations where there is so much uncertainty that no one quite knows how to respond ... if it's fight or flight, many people are choosing flight at the moment."

There is high expectation that governments will take emergency measures, including boosting liquidity, after the Fed injected $500 billion into the banking system in the States. Australia's central bank followed suit on Friday, pumping $5.52 billion into its daily money market operation.

Test aggressively, lock down boldly

South Korea, where an outbreak surged around the same time as Italy, said for the first time there were more patients released after having recovered than there were new cases, raising hopes that Asia's biggest epidemic location outside China may be seeing a slowdown in the number of cases.

A Reuters examination of the public health responses in South Korea and Italy showed that aggressive and sustained testing was a powerful tool for fighting the virus. Where only limited testing was available, authorities have to take bolder action to limit the movement of people, said Jeremy Konyndyk, a senior policy fellow at the Center for Global Development in Washington.

The spread

There are now almost 135,000 cases and over 4,900 deaths form coronavirus recorded in 125 countries and regions, according to a Reuters tally at 0200 GMT on Friday. Experts say many more cases are either unreported or undetected.

China's Wuhan city, ground zero of the coronavirus outbreak, reported five new cases on Friday, the second day in a row the tally has been less than 10, while no locally transmitted infections were reported in the rest of the country.

(For an interactive graphic tracking global spread of coronavirus: open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser)

First soju, now bombes

Last week, makers of soju, South Korea's national drink and one of the world's best selling spirits, responded to soaring ethanol demand by donating the alcohol that goes into the drink to be made into sanitiser.

Greek authorities are following up on this plan, and are in the process of looking for manufacturers willing to convert up to 155 tonnes of seized alcohol languishing in customs warehouses across the country into antiseptics.

Thousands of bottles of counterfeit alcohol, known locally as 'bombes', are confiscated in Greece every year.

"Fortunately they came at just the right time. Now there is a shortage of pure spirit on the market because of the general shortage in antiseptic gels," a customs agent told Reuters.

(Reporting by Cate Cadell, Compiled by Karishma Singh)

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