Markets across the Asia-Pacific region are falling as the coronavirus as new data released on Tuesday indicated over 100 people have died in China and over 4,500 people infected worldwide.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 and Topix dropped around one percent while South Korea’s Kospi dropped three percent and Singapore’s Straits Times index dropped 2.85 percent. Australia’s S&P fell 1.4 percent. Markets in mainland China and Hong Kong were closed due to the Lunar New Year holiday.
Economic analysts fear that the dangerous virus will slow down growth after a difficult 2019 filled with trade wars and a global growth slowdown.
Authorities are taking precautions because of the virus’s link to SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) that ravaged Asia between 2002 and 2003 and killed 800 people in mainland China, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia.
Experts have found that the SARS pandemic’s economic impact in those two years to have been as high as tens of billions of dollars.
“GDP growth in China, for example, appears to have been reduced by 3.1 percent in the second quarter of 2003, when the outbreak was at its peak,” stated a report by Singapore-based Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. “The loss in Hong Kong was estimated at nearly US$3.7 billion, less than Singapore’s loss of nearly US$5 billion.”
“The costs extended beyond Asia as well, exemplified by the greater than US$4 billion impact on Canada, which also resulted in an estimated 28,000 lost jobs,” added the report.
The current SARS-like virus appears to have originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.
The World Health Organization (WHO) released information Monday night stating that the source of the virus most likely originated from an animal source.
“An animal source seems the most likely primary source of this novel #coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak, with some limited human-to-human transmission occurring between close contacts,” tweeted the WHO.
The WHO advised those at risk of coronavirus infection to keep their hands washed with soap and water, eat thoroughly cooked meet and eggs, and to avoid contact with wild or domestic animals.