Illness Spreads in Hospitals; New Hubei Leaders: Virus Update

China reported the number of infections on the mainland climbed to more than 31,000.

Illness Spreads in Hospitals; New Hubei Leaders: Virus Update
A passenger wearing a gas mask rides a subway train, operated by MTR Corp., in Hong Kong, China. (Photographer: Justin Chin/Bloomberg)  

(Bloomberg) -- China named two officials to take charge of the response to the coronavirus outbreak in the province of Hubei as the government attempts to slow the spread of the illness. A new report in a medical journal said the infection was spreading inside a Wuhan hospital taking care of patients.

The Federal Reserve Board said that the coronavirus outbreak presented a “new risk” to the economic outlook for the U.S. and warned of disruptions in global markets. Canada Goose Holdings Inc. cut its sales and profit forecasts, hours after Burberry Group Plc withdrew its full-year outlook, with both companies blaming the new coronavirus.

Key Developments

  • World’s retailers take hit as Chinese shoppers stay home
  • China death toll at 636; confirmed cases at 31,161
  • Death of a hero doctor sparks crisis of confidence in Xi’s China
  • Japan cruise ship outbreak is now the biggest outside China with 61 sick
  • Number of new cases reported in China decline for a second day: WHO

Bloomberg is tracking the outbreak on the terminal and online.

Illness Spreads in Hospitals; New Hubei Leaders: Virus Update

Medical Supply Chain From China Unaffected (3:30 p.m. NY)

The coronavirus hasn’t led to any disruptions in the U.S. in the supply chain of medical and protective gear, much of which is made in China, officials from President Donald Trump’s task force said at a briefing Friday where they updated the public on progress.

Efforts to produce drugs to treat infections and vaccines to prevent new cases are proceeding smoothly, said Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

There are two studies underway using Gilead Sciences Inc.’s remdesivir to see if patients treated with it recover more quickly than those given standard supportive care. Efforts to start human studies of Moderna Inc.’s potential vaccine within the next two-and-a-half months are proceeding with no glitches, Fauci said.

The U.S. is still waiting to hear from China about whether its offer to send experts in virology, drug development and epidemiology as part of a team from the World Health Organization will be accepted, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said at the briefing.

U.S. Ready to Aid China, Others (2:30 p.m. NY)

The U.S. is prepared to spend as much as $100 million to help China and other nations fighting the spread of the coronavirus, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said Friday. The U.S. this week helped ship to China 17.8 tons of donated supplies, such as masks, gowns, gauze, respirators and other materials this week, he said in a statement.

The financial assistance to foreign government is direct and through multilateral organizations, the Sate Department said.

Coronavirus Spreads Inside Wuhan Hospital, Study Finds (1:23 p.m.)

A Chinese hospital taking care of patients with the novel coronavirus saw the infection spread at high rates among health-care staff and other patients, according to a study of cases at a Wuhan hospital.

The report, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, looked at 138 patients from the Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University who had the coronavirus and developed pneumonia, which can be a sign that the infection has grown more severe.

Many of the pneumonia cases were in workers and other patients at the hospital: Transmission within the hospital was responsible for about 41% of cases, including 40 health professionals and 17 other patients.

Among the group of 138 patients, 26% required intensive care and 4.3% died, higher than other, broader estimates of fatality from the virus. Just 47 patients, or about one-third of the total, have been discharged.

New Jersey Lets Cruise Ship Passengers Disembark (12:40 p.m. NY)

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. passengers aboard the New Jersey-docked Anthem of the Seas were cleared to disembark Friday after more than two dozen were screened for coronavirus, the first such cruise scare on America’s shores.

Four passengers have been transferred to an area hospital for review and tests are pending, according to the company. Other passengers are free to go, and the ship had been permitted to depart.

China Puts Two Officials in Charge of Outbreak (12:03 p.m. NY)

China has assigned two new officials to be in direct control of the efforts to manage the coronavirus outbreak in Hubei province.

Chen Yixin, who was previously the top Communist Party secretary in the capital of Hubei, will be the the deputy head of the central government’s directing group on Hubei, according to a WeChat blog affiliated with state media. The group is in charge of sorting out the epidemic in the province and is led by Vice Premier Sun Chunlan.

Wang Hesheng, who is the deputy head of China’s National Health Commission, will become a member of Hubei’s standing committee, which is the top decision-making body for the province, according to the blog Taoran Notes, which is connected to the Economic Daily Newspaper.

Medical Workers’ Protective Equipment Runs Short (11:35 a.m. NY

Medical workers’ protective equipment is running short and there’s evidence of price inflation as concern about coronavirus spreads, World Health Organization officials said in Geneva.

Prices for some pieces of protective equipment used by medical staff have risen 20-fold, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a briefing with reporters. Demand for equipment is 100 times normal, he said.

The outbreak has sharply increased usage of equipment such as masks and gowns that health workers use to protect themselves from infection. Global front-line health workers need about 7% to 10% of market capacity to respond to the outbreak, Tedros said.

Fed Warns of Potential Effects on Growth (11:10 a.m. NY)

The Federal Reserve Board said that the coronavirus outbreak presented a “new risk” to the economic outlook for the U.S. and warned of disruptions in global markets.

“Because of the size of the Chinese economy, significant distress in China could spill over to U.S. and global markets through a retrenchment of risk appetite, U.S. dollar appreciation, and declines in trade and commodity prices,” the U.S. central bank wrote in its semi-annual report to Congress released on Friday in Washington. “The effects of the coronavirus in China have presented a new risk to the outlook.”

Read the full story here.

CDC Screens Cruise Passengers in New Jersey (10:10 a.m. NY)

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said CDC officials boarded a cruise ship docked in Bayonne Friday morning and screened 27 passengers who recently traveled from China.

“After being assessed by the CDC, 23 of those passengers were cleared and four individuals are being evaluated at an area hospital,” Murphy said in a statement. “The hospital is following proper infection control protocols while evaluating these individuals. New Jersey currently has no confirmed cases of novel coronavirus and the risk to residents remains low”

Royal Caribbean Shares Tumble (8:39 a.m. NY)

Shares of the cruise ship operator fell in pre-market U.S. trading. Some passengers -- all Chinese nationals -- on the company’s Anthem of the Seas, which docked in Bayonne, New Jersey, on Friday morning, have shown signs of respiratory illness, website reported.

Shenzhen Asks Drivers to Register Before Entering (7:56 a.m. NY)

China’s tech hub of Shenzhen will require that drivers register online before they enter, effective Feb. 8, according to the city’s official WeChat account.

Canada Goose Cuts Forecasts (7:02 a.m. NY)

Canada Goose Holdings Inc. tumbled in early trading after the company said the coronavirus is “having a material negative impact” and cut its full-year forecast for sales and profit.

“Retail stores and e-commerce across Greater China have and continue to experience significant reductions in revenue,” the company said. “Due to global travel disruptions, retail stores in international shopping destinations in North America and Europe are also affected.”

Separately, VF Corp said about 60% of owned and partner stores in China have been temporarily closed.

Researchers Defend Findings of Symptom-Free Coronavirus Spread (6:52 a.m. NY)

Researchers stood behind their finding that a woman wasn’t feeling ill at the time she set off a cluster of coronavirus cases in Germany last month, adding fuel to a debate over how the disease spreads. Their response counters a statement from German health officials earlier this week that the Chinese woman was in fact experiencing symptoms.

Ericsson Pulls Out of Biggest Mobile Industry Event (6:33 a.m. NY)

Ericsson AB withdrew from the telecommunications industry’s biggest annual event, MWC Barcelona 2020, to protect its staff and visitors from the coronavirus. Nokia Oyj, Ericsson’s Finnish rival, said it’s monitoring the situation closely and as of now is still planning to attend the event, “but the situation is fluid.” The organizers said the event will proceed as planned on Feb. 24 to Feb. 27.

South Korea’s LG Electronics Inc. has also announced plans to withdraw from exhibiting at the conference. China-based ZTE Corp. will send a delegation, but has canceled its press conference.

Most Firms See Virus Impacting Revenue: Survey (6:11 a.m. NY)

A survey of 127 companies showed 87% expect revenue to drop because of the coronavirus, AmCham Shanghai says. The survey was conducted between Feb. 4 and Feb. 6.

Number of New Cases Reported in China Declines (6 a.m. NY)

The number of new cases reported in China declined for a second day, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a technical briefing with health representatives in Geneva. “It’s good news, but we caution against reading too much into this,” he said. China reported 3,696 new cases, according to the WHO tally as of late yesterday.

There’s a global shortage of protective clothing, Tedros also said. The WHO plans to hold a call with suppliers for pandemic equipment to discuss remedies and how to distribute material fairly

Trump Says U.S. Working ‘Closely’ With China (6:39 p.m. HK)

The U.S. is working “closely” with China to help with responding to the coronavirus, President Donald Trump said in a series of tweets, in which he also praised China’s leader Xi Jinping for “strongly” leading the country’s response to the threat. Trump said he’d had a “long and very good conversation” with Xi by phone and that his counterpart’s response is “strong, sharp and powerfully focused.“

Foxconn Warns Staff to Keep Away From Shenzhen Base (6:34 p.m. HK)

The company told employees at its Shenzhen facility not to return to work when the extended Lunar New Year break ends Feb. 10, according to a memo obtained by Bloomberg. Foxconn’s main iPhone-making base is farther north in Zhengzhou but coastal Shenzhen serves as its Chinese headquarters. The company also assembles a small portion of iPhones there.

China LNG Force Majeure Rejected (6:29 p.m. HK)

Two of Europe’s biggest energy companies rejected a Chinese force majeure on liquefied natural gas contracts. Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Total SA didn’t accept the legal grounds for the move by China National Offshore Oil Corp. that would have freed it from its contractual obligations to take delivery of the shipments.

Samsung Vietnam Sees Virus-Tied Production Problems (6:26 p.m. HK)

Samsung Vietnam’s production will face difficulties because major components including batteries and LCD screens are imported mostly from China, the news website of Vietnam’s Ministry of Trade reported.

China’s Refiners Process 15% Less Crude (6:02 p.m. HK)

Oil refineries across China have cut the amount of crude they’re turning into fuels by around 15%, and could deepen those reductions in the coming weeks. State-owned and private plants have pared back refining by at least 2 million barrels a day over the last week, said people with knowledge of operations at the nation’s largest complexes.

Thai Minister Sorry For Threatening Tourists Without Masks (6 p.m. HK)

Thai Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul apologized after saying that foreigners should be “kicked out of Thailand” for refusing to wear face masks. Tourism comprises about one fifth of the Thai economy, and has faced a slowdown after the novel coronavirus prompted an 80% drop in Chinese visitors, the largest market.

Hong Kong Airport to Segregate China Flights: SCMP (5:52 p.m. HK)

Planes coming from and going to mainland China will depart and arrive at remote parking stands as Hong Kong’s airport adopts stricter quarantine measures to contain the outbreak, the South China Morning Post reported, citing unidentified people.

Citizen Journalist Covering Virus Missing in China (5:36 p.m. HK)

Chinese citizen journalists Chen Qiushi and Fang Bin have served as the world’s eyes and ears in the city of Wuhan. Now one of them is missing.

Chen has been out of reach for more than 20 hours. Fang, who was silent much of Friday until a video posted in the evening, was previously detained briefly by authorities for his video of corpses in a hospital.

China Urges Employees, Clients to Scour World for Masks (5:35 p.m. HK)

As the virus triggers shortages of medical supplies in China, businesses are urging employees and their clients to bring back face masks from overseas. Meanwhile, alcohol and ethanol makers including Tsingtao Brewery Co. are shifting to produce disinfectant to help ease a shortage in medical grade alcohol, with an industry association urging others to follow suit.

Singapore Raises Alert Level (5:27 p.m. HK)

Singapore raised its national disease response level to Orange, its second-highest level and the same one used during the SARS epidemic, the Ministry of Health said.

The Orange designation means the nature of disease “is severe and spreads easily from person to person,” but “has not spread widely in Singapore and is being contained,” according to the Disease Outbreak Response System Condition color-coded framework.

Singapore Examining Residents in Event-Linked Cases (3:17 p.m. HK)

Singapore is investigating four residents who last month went to the Grand Hyatt hotel for a private business meeting that’s been linked to several overseas cases of coronavirus.

One of two new cases of the virus is a 27 year-old male Singaporean citizen with no recent travel history to China, according to the Ministry of Health on Thursday evening. He is one of the four people included in the probe at the National Center for Infectious Diseases after he attended the meeting at the hotel from Jan. 20 to Jan. 22.

Burberry Abandons Forecast as Virus Hits China Sales (3:01 p.m. HK)

Burberry Group Plc scrapped its financial guidance for the year, warning that the coronavirus epidemic has wiped out three-quarters or more of sales at stores in China. The British fashion house said it has closed 24 of its 64 shops on the mainland. Over the past two weeks, sales at mainland stores that remain open have declined 70% to 80%, Chief Financial Officer Julie Brown said.

It’s one of the most dramatic illustrations so far of the effects of the virus on global brands, with the luxury-goods industry particularly exposed. Cosmetics companies L’Oreal SA and Estee Lauder Cos. said Thursday that they expect temporary