Coronavirus spreads in China prisons, Korean church as fears weigh on global markets


22 Feb, 2020 8:44 am

BEIJING/SEOUL (Reuters) The coronavirus has infected hundreds of people in Chinese prisons, authorities said, as cases climbed outside the epicentre in Hubei province, including 100 more in South Korea and a worsening outbreak in Italy where officials announced the country’s first death.

A total of 234 infections among Chinese prisoners outside Hubei ended 16 straight days of declines in new mainland cases. Another 271 cases were reported in prisons in Hubei – where the virus first emerged in December in its now locked-down capital, Wuhan.

US stocks sold off and the Nasdaq had its worst daily percentage decline in about three weeks on Friday as the spike in new coronavirus cases and data showing a stall in US. business activity in February fueled investors’ fears about economic growth. The rise in coronavirus cases sent investors scrambling for safe havens such as gold and government bonds.

Chinese state television quoted Communist Party rulers as saying the outbreak had not yet peaked amid a jump in cases in a hospital in Beijing.

Total cases of the new coronavirus in the Chinese capital neared 400 with four deaths.

China has reported a total of 75,567 cases of the virus to the World Health Organization (WHO) including 2,239 deaths. In the past 24 hours, China reported 892 new confirmed cases and 118 deaths.

U.S. activity in the manufacturing and services sectors stalled over growing concern of the potential toll of the virus, a survey of purchasing managers showed on Friday.

The IHS Markit flash services sector Purchasing Managers’ Index dropped to its lowest since October 2013, signalling that a sector accounting for roughly two-thirds of the US economy was in contraction for the first time since 2016.


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