CHINESE President Xi Jinping on Thursday declared a “people’s war” against the fast-spreading coronavirus, whose impact has been felt around the world from slowing factory floors to quarantined cruise liners.
The death toll in mainland China jumped by 73 to 563, with more than 28,000 infections also confirmed inside the world’s second-largest economy.
Such was the anxiety that some Chinese were asking HIV patients for medicines.
But Xi, again seeking to prevent global panic, said China’s strong mobilization capacity and rich experience in public health would enable it to beat the coronavirus.
“The whole country has responded with all its strength to respond with the most thorough and strict prevention and control measures, starting a people’s war for epidemic prevention and control,” Xinhua news agency quoted him as saying in a telephone call with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman.
In a striking image of the epidemic’s reach, about 3,700 people moored off Japan on the Diamond Princess faced testing and quarantine for at least two weeks on the ship, which has 20 cases.
Gay Courter, a 75-year-old American novelist on board, appealed for the U.S. government to take Americans off.
“It’s better for us to travel while healthy and also, if we get sick, to be treated in American hospitals,” he told Reuters.
In Hong Kong, another cruise ship with 3,600 passengers and crew was quarantined for a second day pending testing after three cases on board. Taiwan, which has 13 cases, banned international cruise ships from docking.
In China, sometimes dubbed the world’s workshop, cities have been shut off, flights cancelled and factories closed, shutting supply lines crucial to international businesses.
Companies including Hyundai Motor (005380.KS), Tesla (TSLA.O), Ford (F.N), PSA Peugeot Citroen (PEUP.PA), Nissan (7201.T), Airbus (AIR.PA), Adidas (ADSGn.DE) and Foxconn (2317.TW) are taking hits.
Financial analysts have cut China’s growth outlook, with ratings agency Moody’s flagging risks for auto sales and output.
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