Sat, 04 Apr 2020

Coronavirus update: nations and companies react

29 Feb 2020, 22:13 GMT+10

Unexplained infections in California, Oregon and Washington indicated the coronavirus is spreading within the community on the U.S. West Coast. President Donald Trump said his administration is prepared for the worst.

China's factory activity fell to a record low after weeks of closures caused by the virus, while the number of cases reported in South Korea soared 35%, or by over 800, in 24 hours. Nigeria, Mexico and New Zealand were among countries reporting their first infections. There were more cases in Australia and Thailand.

US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the central bank is prepared to cut interest rates and U.S. equities suffered their worst week since the financial crisis.

China vaccine could arrive by April

China's vaccine research experts told premier Li Keqiang that a vaccine for coronavirus could be introduced for emergency use as early as April.

Researchers said some coronavirus vaccines could be used under certain conditions, according to a statement posted on government website Saturday, citing a trip Li made to the coronavirus national medical equipment emergency platform on Friday. The statement didn't give details on the vaccine or the conditions.

Washington State reports new cases

Health officials in the west coast state identified two new cases, including a school-aged adolescent who has no known connection to an outbreak-hit country or anyone who has visited such an area. The other patient had traveled to South Korea.

US postpones meeting with Asian leaders

The Trump administration postponed a meeting with Asian leaders that was set to be held next month in Las Vegas, citing efforts to contain the coronavirus. The US made the decision in consultation with members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, a White House official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

ASEAN includes 10 countries in Southeast Asia. China, the epicenter of the outbreak, is not among the members.

WHO says travel bans don't prevent virus' spread

The World Health Organisation, in a status report on Friday, said a preliminary analysis of countries that blocked entry of travelers from China "suggest that such measures may have delayed the importation of new cases, but did not prevent the importation of the disease".

The United Nations agency has recommended against imposing travel or trade restrictions to combat the outbreak.

Google cancels conference in Las Vegas

Google canceled a major internal gathering, the latest in a wave of events and conferences being called off around the world.

The sales and marketing event was set to take place in Las Vegas in March, a Google spokesman said. "In light of the evolving coronavirus situation, we made the decision to cancel an internal event that would have brought thousands of employees together from across two continents," the spokesman said.

Google will also ban business travel to and from Japan and South Korea starting March 2, according to an internal employee memo seen by Bloomberg.

Amazon tells workers to avoid non-essential travel

Amazon this week asked employees to defer non-essential travel out of caution around the spread of the coronavirus, a spokeswoman said.

Dave Clark, the leader of Amazon's worldwide logistics and operations teams, told employees in its largest unit to put off travel until at least the end of April, according to a memo first reported by the New York Times. The company employs 798 000 people globally, including more than 50 000 at its Seattle headquarters.

Separately, the company pulled out of the Game Developers Conference, scheduled for next month in San Francisco.

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