Coronavirus live updates: UK holds emergency meeting while Australia reports first community transmission

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Virus continues to spread with Indonesia reporting first two cases

11.29am GMT

The European commission said there had been 2,100 people infected so far by Coronavirus, including 38 fatalities in 18 member states, as it raised its risk of contraction from low to moderate up to moderate to high, Daniel Boffey reports.

11.28am GMT

Nearly 300 million people have gone back to work in China since the Lunar New Year break as more companies restart business and coronavirus travel restrictions ease, although many small firms are still struggling to find enough workers to run plants, Reuters reports.

Indications from China are that the country has managed to get a handle on the coronavirus outbreak, with the numbers of new cases continuing to slow in the country, even as they accelerate elsewhere in the world. According to Reuters:

Eighteen regions in mainland China have cut the emergency response level as of Monday, and authorities eased travel restrictions amid a sharp drop in new coronavirus infection cases.

The flu-like epidemic has killed 2,912 people and infected more than 80,000 across the country.

Increasing traffic flows in big cities also indicate more commuting across the country. Location technology firm TOMTOM’s traffic index shows congestion levels picked up noticeably in most major cities on Monday to their highest levels since the virus outbreak.

Public transportation systems have also gotten busier. Of the 33 Chinese cities that have metro lines, only three have system restrictions still in place: Wuhan where the virus originated, Wenzhou in manufacturing hub Zhejiang province, and Urumchi in northwestern Xinjiang.

11.12am GMT

In the UK, cabinet ministers have been attending No 10 Downing Street for a Cobra national security committee meeting chaired by the prime minister, Boris Johnson.

10.57am GMT

Health officials in Ireland are expected to decide on Monday whether to restrict mass gatherings, including the St Patrick’s Day festival, Rory Carroll reports from Dublin.

The possible curbs come as a secondary school in Dublin closed for two weeks to prevent the spread of infection after a pupil was identified as Ireland’s first case of coronavirus.

10.34am GMT

Portugal registered its first two cases of the new coronavirus on Monday, SIC television channel reported. Reuters reports:

SIC said one case was discovered in a man who had recently travelled to Italy and another one in a man who had returned from Spain. Both were taken to hospital in Porto.

Health ministry officials were not immediately available for comment.

10.32am GMT

An escalation in the coronavirus outbreak could cut global economic growth in half and plunge several countries into recession this year, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development has warned.

Sounding the alarm as the disease spreads around the world and rattles investors, the OECD said global GDP growth could plunge this year to as little as 1.5%, almost half the 2.9% rate it forecast before the outbreak took hold.

Related: Coronavirus escalation could cut global economic growth in half – OECD

10.30am GMT

Ireland’s chief medical officer has defended the decision to close a secondary school after it was confirmed a student was diagnosed with coronavirus.

Dr Tony Holohan said the move to shut the school for two weeks was a “proportionate measure”. PA Media reports:

Dr Holohan also said he believes the risk of the infection spreading in Ireland is still low.

It was confirmed on Saturday night that the male student who lives in the east of the country contracted the virus in one of the affected areas of northern Italy. The school has been closed for 14 days from today, during which all pupils and teachers are being asked to restrict their movements.

10.22am GMT

The global death toll from the coronavirus outbreak exceeded 3,000 on Monday as South Korea reported almost 500 new cases of the disease and a second person died in the US, Justin McCurry, the Guardian’s Tokyo correspondent, reports.

Covid-19 has now infected more than 88,000 people and spread to more than 60 countries after first emerging in China late last year. Indonesia, which has so far claimed to be virus-free, registered its first two cases on Monday.

Related: Coronavirus: death toll passes 3,000 worldwide as second person dies in US

10.17am GMT

Authorities in China have closed the first of 16 hospitals specially built in Wuhan to tackle the coronavirus epidemic, the Chinese state broadcaster CCTV has said. According to Reuters:

News of the closure coincided with a sharp fall in new cases in Hubei province and its capital of Wuhan but China remained on alert for people returning home with the virus from other countries where it has spread.

“The rapid rising trend of virus cases in Wuhan has been controlled,” Mi Feng, a spokesman for China’s national health commission told a briefing.

9.50am GMT

Paul Cosford, the emeritus medical director of Public Health England, who we reported earlier as telling Good Morning Britain that the UK could expect to see widespread coronavirus infection “fairly soon”, has also been speaking on the Today programme this morning.

Cosford told today that there will come a point “where we reduce social contact if we see more widespread transmission”.

I think the increase in number that we are seeing, coupled with the increases in countries nearby in Europe and of course in south-east Asia, do make it much more likely we will get more widespread transmission in the UK.

It’s still the case that the vast majority of the cases we’ve got in the UK, we can trace a link to countries where there’s infection and people returning from those countries, but we’ve not been able to identify that in every single case now, so that’s something we are looking at extremely carefully to understand where the source of those infections may be.

The vast majority of people will make a recovery from it and it is a relatively mild illness. Children and otherwise healthy adults seem to be at much lower risk of getting into serious complications you get with this sort of disease.

It’s older people and people with severe underlying conditions that we will be particularly concerned about.

9.40am GMT

People in Israel are voting in a national election today and the government has set up 16 special voting booths for roughly 5,000 people who are in precautionary home isolation, Oliver Holmes, the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent, reports. The polling stations are small tents made of plastic sheeting, with staff in full protective suits.

9.28am GMT

India said on Monday two people in the country had tested positive for coronavirus. According to Reuters:

One case was detected in the capital, New Delhi, while the other was in the southern state of Telangana, the government said in a statement.

The patients had a travel history from Italy and the United Arab Emirates, respectively, the statement said. Both patients were stable and being closely monitored.

9.27am GMT

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany has risen to 150 on Monday from 129 on Sunday, Reuters reports the Robert Koch Institute for disease control as saying.

More than half of the cases, 86, are in the western region of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state, where several schools and daycare centres will be closed on Monday to try to prevent the spread of the virus after staff members tested positive.

9.26am GMT

Iraq has detected two new coronavirus patients, both of whom had recently visited Iran, the Health Ministry said on Monday, bringing the total cases recorded so far to 21, Reuters reports. The news agency goes on:

The two new cases were detected in Baghdad and had recently returned from Iran, the ministry said in a statement.

The first case was detected on Tuesday and was of an Iranian student who has since been sent back home.

9.20am GMT

Public Health England’s emeritus medical director, Paul Cosford, says the UK can expect to see widespread coronavirus infection “fairly soon.” Speaking on Good Morning Britain, Cosford said:

The extent of infection we are seeing in other countries suggests it is likely that we will see more widespread infection in the UK and that is what we have to be prepared for.

We should expect at times that might be quite challenging for us, it is therefore very important that we do everything we can to reduce the spread of infection.

9.18am GMT

In the UK, Jonathon Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, says he would support shutting down cities to control the spread of coronavirus.

Ahead of a meeting of the government’s Cobra national security committee this morning, to be chaired by the prime minister, Ashworth told BBC Breakfast this morning that he wanted greater clarity from the government about its next steps.

It would be a move by Government so drastic that we hadn’t seen it. And I’m not sure how practical it could be in reality. However this virus is serious and appears to spread very easily and we need to contain it and slow down the spread.

If the medical advice is to do something like that then of course we should support it. That is why I am keen, however, that Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, comes to the House of Commons today after the Cobra meeting to update MPs on plans.

8.57am GMT

Concern is growing among campaigners that vital UN climate talks will be derailed by the coronavirus outbreak, while government officials are working to find ways round the problem, reports Fiona Harvey, the Guardian’s environment correspondent.

This year’s UN talks on the climate are the most important since the Paris agreement in 2015, as the world is now far adrift of the Paris goals and the Cop26 summit – scheduled for Glasgow this November – is seen as one of the last chances to put nations back on track to avoid climate breakdown.

Related: Vital Cop26 climate talks could be derailed by coronavirus

8.51am GMT

A member of the council that advises Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran, has died today after falling sick with Covid-19, the Associated Press reports, citing Iranian state radio.

Expediency council member Mohammad Mirmohammadi, 71, died at a Tehran hospital of the virus, making him the the first top official to succumb to the illness that is affecting members of the Islamic Republic’s leadership.

His death comes as other top officials have contracted the virus in Iran, which has the highest death toll in the world after China, the epicenter of the outbreak.

Those sick included include Vice President Masoumeh Ebtekar, better known as Sister Mary, the English-speaking spokeswoman for the students who seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and sparked the 444-day hostage crisis, state media reported. Also sick is Iraj Harirchi, the head of an Iranian government task force on the coronavirus who tried to downplay the virus before falling ill.

8.39am GMT

A school in London, UK, Wimbledon College, is to close for at least a week and undergo a deep clean after a member of staff tested positive for coronavirus.

The school will be closed to all pupils as of Monday 2nd March. Parents are asked to read the letter from the Head Master sent on 1/3/2020′

Confirmed case of coronavirus at Wimbledon College, one of the most exclusive schools in south London.

A member of staff contracted COVID-19 after a recent trip to northern Italy. #CoronavirusOutbreak

7.52am GMT

G7 countries will take “concerted action” to limit the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on economic growth and their finance ministers will discuss by phone this week how best to act, the French finance minister, Bruno Le Maire, said on Monday.

According to Reuters:

“There will be a concerted action. Yesterday I spoke with the G7 president, the US. Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, and this week we will have a meeting by phone of the finance G7 ministers to coordinate our responses,” Le Maire told France 2 television.

He also said that eurozone finance ministers would be in touch with each other and that he would speak with the ECB chief, Christine Lagarde.

7.44am GMT

A medical worker from the Mount Vernon Cancer Centre is one of three people confirmed to have coronavirus in Hertfordshire, UK, the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust has confirmed.

The trust said the risk to patients and staff at the centre in Northwood is very low. Patients were told they should continue to attend appointments. In a statement on its website, the trust said:

We are very well-prepared for incidents like this and the NHS and Public Health England are taking all necessary steps to manage the situation.

All individuals who were in contact with the clinician have been identified and the appropriate measures taken. The risk to patients and staff at Mount Vernon Cancer Centre is very low and we are working with individual patients to appropriately manage their care.

7.39am GMT

This is Damien Gayle taking over the live blog from London, where concerns are beginning to grow about the domestic spread of Covid-19, following a weekend in which the number of people infected in the UK climbed to 36.

Later this morning, the prime minister, Boris Johnson, is to chair a meeting of the UK government’s Cobra national security committee regarding the coronavirus. There is “little doubt” coronavirus will present a “significant challenge” for the UK, Johnson will tell those signing off the government’s battle plan to fight the disease. That’s expected at about 10.30am.

7.04am GMT

It’s been a very busy news day on this live coverage of coronavirus. Here are the main points:

6.36am GMT

Nike will close its European headquarters in the Netherlands on Monday and Tuesday after an employee was infected with the coronavirus, the Dutch news agency ANP said.

Citing an internal email, ANP reported overnight that the office in Hilversum would be disinfected. The employee was staying home in isolation for 14 days, it said. Roughly 2,000 employees from 80 countries work at the site.

6.25am GMT

Chant is talking about the risk in Iran and from people who have been to Iran: “It’s probably equivalent (risk) to the risk we have seen in Wuhan” – the centre of the outbreak in China.

6.19am GMT

Kerry Chant is now talking about how they identify close contacts with confirmed cases. She says health authorities are working through the process of getting in touch with contacts of people diagnosed.

There’s particular concern with regards to the health worker who has been diagnosed and who he has been in contact with.

6.17am GMT

Hazzard has taken the floor again. He tells people he is not changing anything he is doing at the moment in his day to day life.

He suggests people stop shaking hands as a greeting, and instead pat each other on the back.

6.14am GMT

We’re now hearing from Kerry Chant, the chief medical officer for the state of New South Wales.

She applauds the family for coming forward to be tested. Both members are now in Westmead hospital in Sydney.

6.11am GMT

Brad Hazzard, the New South Wales health minister is now speaking. He confirms that there are three new cases of Covid-19 in the case, taking the total to 9.

One of the new cases was a man who arrived from Iran on Saturday, the day before the travel ban on entry from Iran began. The man’s sister has also been confirmed as having the virus. She had not travelled to Iran so, he says it appears she caught the infection in NSW.

6.05am GMT

We are about to hear from the health minister in the Australian state of New South Wales, Brad Hazzard, and the state’s chief health officer, Kerry Chant.

Australia now has 30 confirmed cases of coronavirus. The numbers are moving very quickly … the last four (at least) cases of the virus were in people entering the country from Iran.

5.58am GMT

The confirmation of two coronavirus cases in Indonesia – the first to be reported in the world’s fourth most populous country – follows mounting concern that the country is failing to identify transmission of the virus.

Health experts have warned that the lack of confirmed patients in Indonesia, a country of 272 million people, was surprising, especially given its close links to China.

5.55am GMT

On Sunday Australia updated its travel restrictions for people arriving from Iran.

You need to isolate yourself in your home or hotel if you have been:

5.51am GMT

We are hearing reports that Australian health authorities say there has been the first case of community transmission in the country. We are expecting a news conference from the health authorities in the state of New South Wales shortly.

5.38am GMT

On the reports of empty shelves in Coles and Woolworths as a result of people stockpiling food in Australia as a result of coronavirus, both supermarkets say there has been an increase in long-life product sales but say they’re well equipped.

A spokeswoman for Coles said the company had boosted deliveries this week to increase stock of long-life food and healthcare products.

Empty toilet paper shelves in the IGA in Castlecrag, Sydney, on Monday

5.15am GMT

In case some of you may have missed this from Friday, the New England Journal of Medicine published its latest report on the coronavirus, in which it extracted data regarding 1,099 patients with laboratory-confirmed Covid-19 from 552 hospitals in 30 provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities in China through January 29, 2020.

You can read the whole study here, but here are the main points:

4.52am GMT

Thailand has reported one new coronavirus case, bringing the total number of such cases in the country to 43 since January, a senior health official said on Monday.

The new case is a 22-year-old Thai woman who works with another Thai patient, a Thai driver for foreign tourists, Sukhum Kanchanaphimai, the permanent secretary of the health ministry, said in a news conference.

4.50am GMT

We are hearing that the Australian state of Tasmania has its first coronavirus case, a 40-year-old man who travelled from Iran, via Melbourne to Launceston. People on the same flight as the man are being contacted by health authorities. He arrived in Tasmania on Saturday, prior to restrictions on entry from Iran being introduced.

4.43am GMT

Indonesian President Joko Widodo said on Monday two Indonesians had tested positive for coronavirus, marking the first confirmed cases in the world’s fourth most populous country.

The two had been hospitalised, Widodo told reporters at the presidential palace in Jakarta. He did not specify where the patients were being treated.

Indonesia confirms its first two cases of coronavirus – a 64 yo woman and daughter, 31, from the Jakarta satellite city of Depok. Health minister says their cases were confirmed on Sunday and they are already in a hospital isolation ward

4.35am GMT

Shares across Asia Pacific have returned to positive territory after a week of heavy losses on the hope of stimulus measures from central banks.

In Japan the Nikkei is up 1.4% and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong has risen 0.9%. In Shanghai the Composite is up nearly 3% while Seoul is 0.9% to the good. Australia’s ASX200 is still off 1% but that’s an improvement on earlier when it plunged 2.7%. The Aussie dollar, a China proxy, has been under pressure for weeks but recovered slightly to US65.25c.

Quite the turnaround in financial markets from what was seen earlier in the session.

The reversal largely mirrors the price action in Chinese stocks . CSI300 was +3.2% at lunch, its highs for the session.

Back to 1.11%. If nothing else, we should view these pre-market fluctuations as a forward indicator of a volatile session on Monday and the immediate future. #economy #markets #stocks #bonds

4.35am GMT

Australian officials have been telling people there’s no need to stock up on essentials due to the coronavirus. But it would seem many are not listening.

Below are some pictures from Woolworths supermarket in Northbridge, on Sydney’s lower North Shore. The photos were taken at around 3pm. A store employee said many of the aisles in the photos had been empty for a few hours. One shopper said it was so busy it felt like trying to buy goods on Christmas eve.

Woolworths supermarket in Northbridge (Sydney) at 3pm on Monday. In order top left to bottom right: empty shelves including toilet paper, hand wash, tissues and Panadol.

4.05am GMT

The Chinese city of Shenzen, which borders Hong Kong, has identified its first case of imported coronavirus.

The China Daily says the male patient surnamed Sun, 35, flew from London to Hong Kong on 27 February, where he took a ferry to cross the Shekou port to arrive in Shenzhen the next day, according to the Shenzhen Municipal Health Commission.

Shenzhen in South China’s Guangdong province has confirmed one imported case of novel #coronavirus disease (#COVID-19), local health authorities said.

3.53am GMT

Sumo wrestling has become the latest sport to be affected by the coronavirus outbreak, after officials decided that the spring tournament would be held behind closed doors.

“To those many who were looking forward to this, we are sorry for this huge inconvenience,” Hakkaku, the chairman of the Japan Sumo Association, told reporters.

3.44am GMT

South Australia plans to amend its Public Health Act to allow for the compulsory quarantine of people with coronavirus.

Premier Steven Marshall announced the move on Monday, saying:

My number one priority is the safety of all South Australians.

This is about getting on the front foot and making sure we have the legislative necessities in place as soon as possible.

BREAKING: SA Government will introduce legislation to Parliament tomorrow to strengthen laws to allow people to be detained if they are engaging in conduct that risks spreading disease #coronavirus @abcadelaide

3.33am GMT

Sixteen temporary hospitals have been set up in gyms and other buildings in Wuhan in China’s central Hubei province to cope with demand caused by the coronavirus.

These images of some of one of those temporary hospitals, Wuhan Living Room Temporary Hospital, were taken last week but released today.

3.26am GMT

The captain of the Diamond Princess cruise ship, Gennaro Arma, has been praised by passengers for his frequent messages and strong leadership during their gruelling quarantine.

In a profile of Arma by AFP (which you can read here), the Italian says the experience gave him “a few grey hairs.”

For all of you who are concerned about me, I’m extremely moved by your kindness and I’d like to reassure you all that I’m absolutely fine. I’m very much the same captain that I was 12 days ago, just with the addition of a few new grey hairs.

3.08am GMT

Here is a bit more information about the second person to die from Covid-19 in the US, who was a patient at the Life Care Centre of Kirkland nursing home in Washington State.

That nursing home is under close monitoring after five residents and a staff member tested positive to the virus, and 50 more showed respiratory symptoms, Hallie Golden reports.

We are very concerned about an outbreak in a setting where there are many older people, as we would be wherever people who are susceptible might be gathering.

2.48am GMT

The Australian Academy of Science has published a fact-check video on the coronavirus with Professor Raina MacIntyre, a global biosecurity expert and head of the biosecurity program at the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales.

MacIntyre said this about how the virus spreads, and why global health agencies keep telling you to wash your hands:

We know that the load of virus, the number of viruses you can find, is higher in the lungs, deep in the lungs, than in the throat or the nose.

But we also know that like Sars and Mers coronavirus is spread by droplets… large respiratory droplets coming from the throat and the nose.

2.40am GMT

Health officials in Washington state have confirmed another death from coronavirus – the second in the US and the state.

A man in his 70s with underlying health conditions who had been hospitalised with Covid-19 died on Saturday at a Kirkland nursing facility, Public Health – Seattle & King County said on Sunday local time.

#BREAKING: 2nd U.S. death from #coronavirus reported in Seattle’s King County, Washington state public health officials say. The first reported death Saturday was also in King County

Related: Coronavirus: Washington state nursing home under close watch

2.33am GMT

With regards to South Korea, the Australian government is advising people to “reconsider your need to travel” to Daegu and Cheongdo, the centre of the infections.

2.28am GMT

I’m just looking at the detailed advice for Australians travelling to Italy. The Level 3 advice (“reconsider your need to travel”) to northern Italy includes 10 towns in Lombardy and one in Veneto.

Lombardy towns:

2.25am GMT

Murphy says the travel ban is a way of slowing things down. He says in Italy and South Korea the outbreaks are confined and localised and that travel bans were not needed for those countries at the moment.

In the case of Iran are very such a high risk that a travel ban is worth doing it because it will slow it down the number of cases.

2.23am GMT

We’re now hearing from Brendan Murphy, Australia’s chief medical officer. He emphasises the risk from travel to Iran.

I think as we have been saying for some time, these additional cases that we have seen over the weekend from Iran were expected and I think as we also said over the weekend we had a very high index suspicion that the caseload in a run was much greater than being reported, because of the death rate.

The most important thing, anyone who has come back from a country with a COVID-19 outbreak who gets unwell in any way, please isolate yourself and contact medical advice.

2.20am GMT

Greg Hunt also says they are changing entry advice to Japan for people travelling home from Italy or South Korea.

The chief health and medical offices have recommended that if you are returning from Italy or South Korea, and you work as a healthcare worker, or as a residential aged care worker, you should not attend your regular work for 14 days. That is an additional level of protection which has been advised by the Chief health and medical offices and accepted by the Australian government.

2.18am GMT

We’re now hearing a press conference from Australia’s health minister, Greg Hunt. He says coronavirus is now in 67 countries globally.

Australia has 29 cases, he says: 15 who had travelled from China, 10 cases from the Diamond Princess cruise ship (including one man who died on Sunday). In addition there are four cases of people who have travelled from Iran. They are all under treatment and are tracing people who may have been in contact with them.

2.11am GMT

We’re getting new figures on South Korea …. 476 new cases taking their total number of infections to 4,212. The country has also recorded 22 fatalities, a jump of 4 from yesterday.

It’s believed 60% of confirmed cases are linked to a branch of Shincheonji religious sect in the southeastern city of Daegu.

2.06am GMT

Despite that poor Chinese data, stocks markets are recovering across Asia Pacific on the prospect of rate cuts by the US Federal Reserve that we referred to earlier.

The Nikkei is Tokyo is up 0.28%, the Kospi in Seoul is up 0.95%, the Hang Seng has risen 0.7% at the opening and Shanghai is up 1.2%. Oil has also rebounded on hopes of a production cut by Opec.

Market now sees FOUR rate cuts from the Fed by January 2021. So significant policy support is arguably now priced in.

Questions: Is this too much now? Have markets (again) overshot the target?

1.54am GMT

Chinese factory activity slumped to its sharpest contraction on record, according to a survey released on Monday, after the virus crippled manufacturing in February.

The closely watched Caixin/Markit manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) tumbled to 40.3 last month, the lowest level since the survey began in 2004, and down sharply from the 51.1 reading in January, Reuters reports. The 50 mark separates growth from contraction.

JUST In:#China‘s Caixin #manufacturing #PMI fell to 40.3 in Feb, vs previous 51.1, expected 46.

Official PMI mainly tracks large companies, mostly SOEs. Caixin PMI tracks smaller companies.

Just breaking, Caixin / Markit PMI survey of China’s manufacturing sector shows a record low in February, 40.3 – way, way below the forecasts (again).

1.49am GMT

The online giant Amazon has confirmed that two of its employees in Milan have tested positive for coronavirus.

1.28am GMT

New York state has confirmed its first coronavirus case, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Twitter Sunday evening, calling on residents to remain calm and not have any “undue anxiety.”

Cuomo said the patient is a woman in her 30s who contracted the virus while traveling abroad in Iran. He said the woman is in quarantine in her home.

We have learned of the 1st positive case of COVID-19 in NY. The patient contracted the virus while in Iran & is isolated

There is no reason for undue anxiety—the general risk remains low in NY. We are diligently managing this situation &will provide info as it becomes available.

1.23am GMT

We’re seeing a news conference from the Australian city of Melbourne, where more cases of Covid-19 have been detected.

Four new virus cases were confirmed on the weekend in people returning from Iran before the ban on entry from Iran was imposed in Australia.

People don’t need to rush out and purchase goods in a rush, currently. We are telling people to go about their normal lives. But they do need to think about what it would mean, should they become a case, should they be infected with Covid-19, and therefore need to isolate at home for two or three weeks, or indeed to look after a carer for two or three weeks at home.

So what are the things that they need to think about in order to manage the situation? Pet food? Food for themselves. Understand how to care for themselves. Understand how others could care for them should they require it, or if they have emergencies.

1.08am GMT

South Korea is the worst affected countries outside of China in terms of coronavirus cases. We are waiting today’s update, but as of Sunday, 3,736 people were infected, with 17 deaths.

A large proportion of the cases are connected to the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in Daegu. The leader of the group, Lee Man-hee, was tested on Staruday and is awaiting results, according to the Yonhap news agency.

Some 4,000 Shincheonji followers across the country have not been reached, so local governments have been working together with police to trace them, they group added.

In a statement addressed to South Korea’s political leaders Sunday, Shincheonji asked them to stop portraying the sect as a criminal organisation.

12.46am GMT

The Chinese health commission’s daily national briefing has reported 202 new confirmed cases of coronavirus and 42 new deaths.

The total confirmed cases has passed 80,000 for the first time. Of the 80,026 confirmed cases, 44,462 (56%) have recovered and 2,912 (or 3.6%) have died.

12.23am GMT

One more post on Australian interest rates. The doyen of economic forecasters, Bill Evans of Westpac bank, says developments over the weekend over the coronavirus impact have prompted him to change his prediction froman April cut to tomorrow.

He sees the RBA cutting the cash rate by 25 basis points tomorrow to 0.5%, and then again in April to take the rate to 0.25%.

Bill Evans now looking for RBA rate cut tomorrow, another in April then QE #ausbiz

12.22am GMT

The WHO chief has said the spread of the coronavirus to countries with weaker health systems is “one of our biggest concerns”.

On Sunday the organisation released US$15 million from its Central Emergency Response Fund to help fund global efforts to contain the COVID-19 virus. The same day the WHO upgraded the global risk assessment for Covid-19 as “very high” – its highest level.

The potential spread of the #coronavirus to countries with weaker health systems is one of our biggest concerns. @WHO thanks @UNCERF for releasing $15 million to help these countries battle the spread of the virus.

12.18am GMT

We’ve seen the stock markets crashing for a week now. While that’s bad if you hold shares and have a lot of your pension funds invested in equities, other movements on the financial markets are arguably more significant, especially the continued fall in US government bond yields.

The implied yield on US 10-Year Treasury futures traded below 1% for the first time on Monday morning. This is because investors are dumping risky assets like shares and buying government securities. But more demand pushes up the price of bonds, forcing down the yield, or interest paid on them.

After Jay #Powell‘s remarks Friday, a #FederalReserve rate cut in March seems a done deal. Markets give a 50% chance to a 50 bps cut.

The surge in bond yields comes ahead of tomorrow’s Reserve Bank of Australia board meeting. Short-term markets indicate traders think an interest rate cut tomorrow is a virtual certainty. The combination of lower interest rate expectations and tumbling commodity prices propelled AUD/USD to a new eleven-year low this morning.

12.08am GMT

Factory activity in China contracted at the fastest pace ever in February, even worse than during the global financial crisis, highlighting the colossal damage from the coronavirus outbreak on the world’s second-largest economy, Reuters reports.

China’s official Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) fell to a record low of 35.7 in February from 50.0 in January, the National Bureau of Statistics said, well below the 50-point mark that separates monthly growth from contraction.

12.06am GMT

Trading has started in Tokyo where the Nikkei is down 1.3% in the first few minutes.

It’s not all bad though – the Kospi index in Seoul is up 0.5%.

Japanese markets just opened, and the Nikkei is down 1.3% amid further global spread of the Coronavirus.

12.00am GMT

Egypt’s has recorded its second case of Covid-19. A statement on Facebook from the health ministry said it was a foreign citizen, who was taken to an isolation unit in hospital and was receiving the necessary medical care.

Egypt’s first case was also a foreign national, who was the first confirmed case of Covid-19 on the African continent. Cases in Algeria and Nigeria were announced last week.

11.58pm GMT

We’re now seeing the Australian market has dropped 2.7%. The Japanese markets are about to open and we’ll bring you news on that shortly.

11.53pm GMT

The Australian dollar is in freefall this morning as investors expect the economic impact of the coronavirus to worsen and weaken demand for the country’s industrial commodities.

The Aussie has fallen 0.84% in the current trading session, taking it to US65.18c.

Is the worst over for the $AUDUSD? Can the battler recover from its lows? Lots of questions in traders’ minds as the $AUD traded lower to 0.6506 level last week – an 11-year low against the $USD. What can pull the $AUD up in the ST?#Forex #Trading #FX
Losses may exceed deposits

China data over the weekend offered hard evidence of the negative impact of the COVID-19 virus, and growth fears are likely to dominate trading today. The official PMI reads in China released on Saturday showed both manufacturing and non-manufacturing activity contracted during February. The manufacturing index plummeted to 35.7, from a neutral 50.5 previously, and non-manufacturing activity fell from an expansionary 54.1 to a shrinking 29.6.

This macro evidence of the economic impact of the coronavirus could see economists dropping their estimates of GDP growth in China, with potential knock-on effects. Today’s read on the Caixin manufacturing PMI, due mid-session, is forecast at 46.0. A big miss on this read could keep pressure on regional currencies, shares and industrial commodities.

Related: Markets expected to fall further as coronavirus hits China’s economy

11.38pm GMT

In Australian the stock market opened down 2.2% on Monday morning, marking the seventh straight trading day of losses as the coronavirus spreads.

The S&P/ASX200 index was down 144.2 points at the start of trade on Monday.

The decline means the ASX has now gone down over 10% in the last seven trading days.

Among the biggest drops at the opening of trade were Bega down 10%, and Fortescue down 9.92%.

11.35pm GMT

Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. Before we kick off, here’s a summary of the top points so far.

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Source: china
Link : Coronavirus live updates: UK holds emergency meeting while Australia reports first community transmission



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