Coronavirus on G20 agenda as China reports uptick in cases

CHINA reported an uptick in new cases of coronavirus on Friday, boosted by more than 200 people testing positive for the disease in two prisons outside of Hubei province, the epicentre of the outbreak.
As international authorities tried to stop the outbreak in China from becoming a global pandemic, finance leaders from the Group of 20 major economies meeting in Saudi Arabia over the weekend were set to discuss risks to the global economy.
“We’re watching the impact with grave concern and keeping a close eye on downside risks,” Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda told parliament in Tokyo before leaving for the meeting.
China has had more than 75,400 cases of the coronavirus and 2,236 people have died, most in Hubei province and its capital of Wuhan where the virus emerged in a wildlife market in December.
Asian shares dipped on Friday as fears over the creeping spread of the disease sent funds fleeing to the sheltered shores of U.S. assets, lifting the dollar to three-year highs. [MKTS/GLOB]
Japan and Singapore are on the brink of recession and South Korea on Friday said its exports to China slumped in the first 20 days of February, with the outbreak upending global supply chains.
Mainland China had 889 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections as of Feb. 20, the National Health Commission said, up from 394 cases a day earlier. The death toll rose by 118, with most in Wuhan, which remains under virtual lockdown.
Infections found in two jails, in the northern province of Shandong and the eastern province of Zhejiang, made up most of the 258 newly confirmed cases outside Hubei.
Top officials deemed responsible for the outbreaks have been fired, authorities said.
There have been 11 deaths outside mainland China, according to a Reuters tally of official statements.
The South Korean city of Daegu is the latest hot spot after dozens of people were infected in what authorities described as a “super-spreading event” at a church.
The deserted streets, shopping malls and cinemas of Daegu, a city of 2.5 million people, provided some of the most striking images outside China of the chilling effect on everyday life.
South Korea reported 52 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus on Friday, taking the national total to 156, the majority in Daegu. More than 400 members of the Daegu church were showing symptoms of the disease, though tests were still going on.
In Hong Kong, which has confirmed 69 cases and two deaths from the disease, dozens of police officers were quarantined after an officer tested positive following a banquet on Tuesday.
Iranian health officials urged all religious gatherings to be suspended in Qom, news agency ISNA said on Thursday after two more people tested positive for the virus in the holy city where two died of it this week.
Another hot spot has been the Diamond Princess cruise ship held under quarantine in Japan since Feb. 3.
Japan has allowed passengers who test negative to leave the ship and hundreds have done so this week, with hundreds more set to disembark on Friday.
Japan reported the deaths of two elderly passengers on Thursday, the first fatalities from aboard the ship where more than 630 cases account for the biggest cluster of infection outside China.
Amid criticism of the government’s handling of onboard quarantine, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said one of the passengers who died had developed a fever on Feb. 5 but was not removed from the ship until Feb. 12.
The Tokyo Metropolitan government said it would cancel or postpone major indoor events for three weeks, Jiji newswire reported, as the city prepares to host the 2020 Olympic Games starting in July.