Japan postpones J-League football games
Japan’s J-League says it has postponed seven Levian Cup matches scheduled for Wednesday, due to concerns about the coronavirus outbreak and is considering postponing all domestic soccer games through the first half of March.
The J-League said the decision to postpone Wednesday’s matches was part of efforts to contain the spread of the virus.
“The J-League will make maximum efforts to prevent infection and prevent its spread,” it said in a statement.
The spread of the coronavirus has forced the cancellation of many sports events in recent weeks, including Serie A soccer matches in Italy, and raised alarm bells for Tokyo 2020 organisers.
Japan’s health minister, Katsunobu Kato, said on Tuesday it was still too early to talk about cancelling the Olympics, which are due to start on 24 July.
The International Olympic Committee has said it had been advised by the World Health Organization that there is no case for contingency plans to cancel or relocate the Games.
You may recall that yesterday we reported that Wuhan was lifting some restrictions for people who wanted to leave the city. However, it was reversed a few hours after being announced and Ying Yong, the newly appointed party chief in Hubei, called for strict control of the exit routes. The province’s health commission has reiterated that on Tuesday.
Hong Kong schools closed until after Easter – report
Schools in Hong Kong will stay closed until after the Easter holidays have finished in April, according to a report in the South China Morning Post.
They were due to reopen on Monday 16 March but the Post says the government will keep them shut until after Easter, which is the weekend of 11/12 April.
However, they may allow students to sit university exams set to start on 27 March.
South Korea cases rise to 893
South Korea’s numbers for coronavirus infections has gone up again – 60 new infections were announced on Tuesday, bringing the country’s total to 893. Nine people have died in the country.
Hubei remains on lockdown – health commission
China’s national health commission says strict control and prevention measures will remain in place in Hubei province, the epicentre of the global outbreak.
The national health commission added it would also strictly control the outbound movement of people in Wuhan and other cities in Hubei province with existing traffic controls.
It follows an announcement yesterday – later reversed – that non-infected people who required medical operations would be able to leave Wuhan.
Here are some more figures from state media on the scale of the fight against the virus in China.
Six per cent of Chinese firms face bankruptcy, state media says
Some sobering statistics from Chinese state media on the economic impact of the virus – 60% of firms face difficulties, with 6% facing bankruptcy.
The Wall Street Journal reporter in Beijing makes a good point about the difficult choice facing Chinese migrant workers: stay at home without a job, or return to cities where they will face quarantine.
Fourth Diamond Princess passenger dies as Japan closes some schools
A passenger from the Diamond Princess in their 80s has died, the Japanese broadcaster NHK has reported. The country’s education minister has also asked asked education boards with reported coronavirus cases to temporarily close schools.
Koichi Hagiuda told reporters on Tuesday that education boards of Hokkaido in northern Japan and Chiba City near Tokyo have been told to take this preventive measure, NHK says.
He also said some schools without confirmed infections should also consider closing.
Trading is now well under way in Hong Kong where the index is down slightly, and China where the Shanghai Composite is off 1.17%.
But Asia Pacific has continued to recover lost ground elsewhere with the Nikkei down a mere 2.84% and Australia off 1.3%. Seoul is up 0.5%.
Australian Olympic team doctor warns of ‘significant challenge’ posed by virus
We heard in that news conference questions about the impact of the virus on the Olympics. Brendan Murphy, the country’s chief medical officer said it was too early to tell, but the Australian Olympic team’s medical director, David Hughes, has told the Sydney Morning Herald that human-to-human transmission of Covid-19 in Japan was a “far from ideal” situation.
He has warned that the next two weeks will be “the real test” in assessing what risk the coronavirus poses to this year’s event in Tokyo, and says the Australian team has begun drawing up contingencies for training in “safe areas”.
Dr Hughes told the news outlet the virus was a “significant challenge that we would rather not have” but was proceeding on the basis the Games would go ahead.
“The next couple of weeks is going to be the real test in seeing whether this local transmission can be brought under control,” he said.
Japan has 851 confirmed cases of the virus. Of those, 691 were passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
The Tokyo Olympics are due to be held from 24 Jul to 9 August.
Global economy could shrink this quarter – AMP
Shane Oliver, chief economist of the wealth manager AMP in Sydney, says in a note today that he now expects the global economy to stagtnate or possibly shrink a bit in this quarter.
His base case is that the outbreak will be contained by March and that markets will bounce back.
But there is still uncertainty as he notes that “some estimates suggest that as much as 50% of China’s economy has been locked down for the last three weeks which means nearly 12% knocked off Chinese GDP this quarter”. Containment measures across large economies such as Italy and South Korea “will spread the economic disruption globally”.
As such, he says:
Our rough estimate is that March quarter global GDP could now be zero or slightly negative.
The increasing global spread of the coronavirus has increased the risk of greater economic disruption for longer resulting in say a 20% fall in share markets. However, our base case of containment is that Chinese, global and hence Australian growth will rebound in the June quarter (avoiding recession in Australia’s case) although the risk of a delay is significant. Against this background share markets, commodity prices and the $A remain at high risk of more downside in the short-term, but assuming some containment and a growth rebound in the June quarter markets should rebound by then. Easier than otherwise monetary and fiscal policies – with ever more stimulus measures announced in China and more monetary and fiscal easing globally – would add to this. The key things to watch for remain a further downtrend in the daily number of new cases globally and a peak in new cases in developed countries.
In a big picture sense, the fall in share markets should be seen as just another correction after markets ran hard and fast into record highs this year from their last decent correction into August last year.
Australia’s chief medical officer is asked about the impact on the Olympics of the virus. He says it’s too early to tell.