The Coronavirus Outbreak : What do you need to know?

What is Coronavirus?

It is a novel virus named for the crown-like spikes that protrude from its surface. The coronavirus can infect both animals and people and can cause a range of respiratory illnesses from the common cold to more dangerous conditions like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS.

How contagious is the virus?

According to preliminary research, it seems moderately infectious, similar to SARS and is possibly transmitted through the air. Scientists have estimated that each infected person could spread it to somewhere between 1.5 and 3.5 people without effective containment measures.

Where has the virus spread?

The virus originated in Wuhan, China, and has sickened tens of thousands of people in China and at least two dozen other countries.

How worried should I be?

While the virus is a serious public health concern, the risk to most people outside China remains very low, and seasonal flu is a more immediate threat.

Who is working to contain the virus?

World Health Organization officials have praised China’s aggressive response to the virus by closing transportation, schools, and markets. This week, a team of experts from the W.H.O. arrived in Beijing to offer assistance.

What if I’m traveling?

The United States and Australia are temporarily denying entry to noncitizens who recently traveled to China and several airlines have canceled flights.

How do I keep myself and others safe?

Washing your hands frequently is the most important thing you can do, along with staying at home when you’re sick.

The sportswear giant Under Armour told investors on Tuesday that its revenues in the first few months of 2020 — and potentially beyond — would take a hit of $50 million to $60 million because of the outbreak.

The Asia-Pacific region made up about 12 percent of Under Armour’s total sales last year and has been one of its faster-growing markets. “Given the significant level of uncertainty with this dynamic and evolving situation, full-year results could be further materially impacted,” the company said.

Patrik Frisk, the company’s chief executive, said Under Armour was monitoring the situation in China, which could affect its ability to obtain some materials.

“With respect to factories,” he said, “we are continuing to see closures and changing timelines of when they might reopen, and trying to assess what it means.”

Germ meets germophobe: Some worry about how Trump might respond to an outbreak.

President Trump has made no secret about his phobia of germs.

Never was it more in evidence than during the Ebola outbreak in 2014, when Mr. Trump was not yet president but was an active voice on Twitter. He demanded draconian measures like canceling flights, forcing quarantines and even denying the return of American medical workers who had contracted the disease in Africa.

“Ebola patient will be brought to the U.S. in a few days — now I know for sure that our leaders are incompetent. KEEP THEM OUT OF HERE!” Mr. Trump tweeted after learning that one American medical worker would be evacuated to Atlanta from Liberia.

He also said, “People that go to faraway places to help out are great-but must suffer the consequences!”

Now Mr. Trump confronts another epidemic in the form of the coronavirus, and this time he is at the head of the country’s health care and national security agencies.

The illness has infected few people in the United States, but health officials fear it could soon spread more widely. Public health experts worry that his extreme fear of germs, disdain for scientific and bureaucratic expertise and suspicion of foreigners could prove a dangerous mix.


Back to work: That’s the message Beijing is sending companies and farms.

Even as China struggles to contain the outbreak, the government is urging factories and farmers to get up and running again.

Local governments should help businesses reopen, Cong Liang, secretary-general of the National Development and Reform Commission, the country’s top economic planning body, said at a news conference on Tuesday.

He said that local officials should establish ways for factories to restart, and that they should also eliminate bureaucratic hurdles like “filling out forms to fight the epidemic,” according to a transcript provided by the agency.

A day earlier, the Ministry of Agriculture issued a notice urging that farms begin spring planting. Addressed to its “numerous farmer friends,” the notice said they should buy seed and seedlings, and apply fertilizer and pesticides as needed.

The government statements reflect the problems that China’s containment efforts have caused the world’s No. 2 economy. Many businesses remain closed, well after the end of the Lunar New Year holiday, in large part because workers are unwilling or unable to leave their hometowns and villages to go back to their jobs.

Chinese officials must walk a fine line, however. Getting China to work again means more human-to-human contact at a time when more cases and deaths are still being reported every day.

The Fed is closely watching the outbreak, its chairman told U.S. lawmakers.

The rapid spread of the coronavirus could pose broad economic risks, the Federal Reserve chairman, Jerome H. Powell, told American lawmakers on Tuesday. But he indicated that the central bank was comfortable holding interest rates steady for now.

“We are closely monitoring the emergence of the coronavirus, which could lead to disruptions in China that spill over to the rest of the global economy,” Mr. Powell told House Financial Services Committee members.

The Fed’s policy rate is now set in a range of 1.5 to 1.75 percent. Officials cut it three times last year to insulate the economy against wobbling global growth and fallout from President Trump’s trade battles.

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