The World Health Organization raised its risk assessment of the coronavirus to “very high” Friday, citing risk of spread and impact. WHO officials said their assessment — the highest level short of declaring a global pandemic — doesn’t change the approach countries should take to combat the virus but should serve as a “wake up” and “reality check” for countries to hurry their preparations.
Fears that a coronavirus pandemic could tip the world economy into recession sent global stocks into a tailspin Friday, with markets on track for their worst week since the financial crisis that began in 2008.
The Dow Jones industrial average plunged 1,000 points in morning trading before paring its losses. By noon, the Dow was down 700 points, or around 2.7 percent. The Standard & Poor’s and Nasdaq composites were down 2 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively. The 10-year U.S. Treasury yield also hit a record low Friday morning. European indexes fell sharply, led by losses in the travel and resources sectors, continuing the slump in Asia earlier in the day.
While there were indications that the outbreak may be slowing in China, France and Germany reported upticks in infections and South Korea’s tally surpassed 2,300, as more events were canceled and airlines said they would cut flights. In Japan, officials declared a state of emergency on the northern island of Hokkaido and told residents to stay indoors as the country reported its 10th death from covid-19, as the disease caused by the virus is known.
Investors have watched the outbreak with increasing concern. U.S. oil futures slipped again Friday, raising expectations that officials from oil-exporting nations will cut output after they meet next week.
Here are the latest developments:
Stocks in Europe and Asia tanked as the specter of prolonged economic disruption haunted investors. Swiss authorities on Friday banned all events with more than 1,000 participants until mid-March, forcing the cancellation of the Geneva International Motor Show, which was scheduled to open next week.
Japan’s Hokkaido island — where Olympic marathons are due to take place this summer — declared a state of emergency. Olympic organizers indicated that they would announce plans next week to scale back the torch relay.
An Italian man diagnosed with the virus in Nigeria marks the first confirmed instance of the virus in sub-Saharan Africa.
Far more coronavirus cases appeared likely to be confirmed outside China, where the crisis originated, than within it. China announced 327 new cases and 44 deaths. South Korea announced 571 new cases Friday, bringing its total to 2,337, while France and Germany confirmed new infections.
President Trump tweeted that the virus was spreading “very slowly in the U.S.” and suggested that his political opponents were blaming him for the outbreak. His remarks came after a whistleblower alleged that the U.S. government sent workers without proper training for infection control or appropriate protective gear to greet evacuees from Wuhan, China.