Asia-listed shares fell overnight as concerns grew about China’s Coronavirus after officials confirmed it can be spread through human contact.
China reported a fourth death from the Coronavirus today as authorities confirmed that 15 medical staff had also been infected.
The editor-in-chief of the Chinese and English editions of the Global Times has tweeted that cases have been found “in other places out of Wuhan, Hubei Province, indicating the epidemic is expanding. Concerns are mounting.”
China’s Shanghai Composite closed 1.4 per cent lower, while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong fell by 2.6per cent. Japan’s Nikkei 225 ended the day down by 0.9 per cent.
An 89-year-old man who lived in Wuhan was the latest victim of the mysterious virus. It is reported he had underlying health conditions.
Scientists believe that the primary source is likely an animal but it has now been confirmed that the virus could be spread through human contact.
The Coronavirus, which has been likened to the Sars virus that killed hundreds in 2002, is believed to have started in a market in the city of Wuhan.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) called a meeting for tomorrow to consider declaring the virus, which began in the tech hub of Wuhan in central China, an international health emergency.
WHO’s regional director for the Western Pacific, Takeshi Kasai, said: “Information about newly reported infections suggest there may now be sustained human to human transmission.”
The organisation has not yet recommended trade or travel restrictions but measures could be taken at tomorrow’s meeting.
The total number of confirmed Coronavirus cases is now 223, with most in Wuhan. But there have been some isolated cases in Beijing and Shanghai. There have also been two cases in Thailand, one in Japan and one in South Korea.
Health authorities around the world have stepped up their screening of travellers arriving from China, with Australia announcing it would start screening flights from Wuhan.
Meanwhile China’s agriculture ministry said today it had found the highly pathogenic H5N6 strain of avian flu in swans in western Xinjiang.