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Coronavirus in the UK

Coronavirus: Digest of business-focussed articles from national and international media, selected by George Hamilton. Some may require a subscription to obtain the full version (paywall)

Coronavirus in the UK: Drugs companies told to keep no-deal Brexit stockpiles of medicines in case lockdown hits supplies

Pharmaceutical companies in the UK have been told to keep hold of stockpiles of urgent medicines amassed during no-deal Brexit preparations in case the coronavirus outbreak hits supplies.

Ministers fear that restrictions by the Chinese government on air and rail travel could hit global supply chains and have asked firms to carry out a risk assessment on whether coronavirus will affect supplies.

The Department for Health and Social Care said that as an “extra precaution” drugs companies were being asked to keep hold of existing stockpiles of medical supplies from their contingency plans for a no-deal Brexit.


Independent 11 Feb

Two somewhat different expert views of the future spread of the coronavirus in these next two items:

Coronavirus ‘could infect 60% of global population if unchecked’

The coronavirus epidemic could spread to about two-thirds of the world’s population if it cannot be controlled, according to Hong Kong’s leading public health epidemiologist.

Prof Gabriel Leung, the chair of public health medicine at Hong Kong University, said the overriding question was to figure out the size and shape of the iceberg. Most experts thought that each person infected would go on to transmit the virus to about 2.5 other people. That gave an “attack rate” of 60-80%.

“Sixty per cent of the world’s population is an awfully big number,” Leung told the Guardian in London, en route to an expert meeting at the WHO in Geneva on Tuesday.


The Guardian 11 Feb

Coronavirus expert says he knows when the virus ‘will burn itself out’

With the death toll climbing each day, fear and uncertainty have spread farther and farther around the globe as coronavirus continues to captivate the world’s attention. However, John Nicholls, a pathology professor at the University of Hong Kong, says he knows when the virus will become inactive.

Nicholls believes weather conditions will be a key factor in the demise of the novel coronavirus. Referencing the SARS outbreak from 2002 and 2003, Nicholls said he thinks similar weather factors will also shut down the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“Three things the virus does not like: 1. Sunlight, 2. Temperature, and 3. Humidity,” Nicholls said

For that reason he doesn’t expect areas such as Australia, Africa and the Southern hemisphere to see high rates of infection because they are in the middle of summer.


Accuweather 10 Feb

Coronavirus Shock Could Push Europe Into a Downturn

FRANKFURT — So far, only scattered cases of the coronavirus have appeared in Europe, but the economic effects are proving harder to quarantine. The shock may be severe enough to push the vulnerable German economy, and perhaps the entire eurozone, into a recession.

That is the conclusion of a growing number of economists as it becomes clear that it will take weeks, at best, before the Chinese economy resumes its role as a prolific exporter of essential factory goods, and as an increasingly important consumer market for the rest of the world.

“The longer it takes for production to resume, the higher the risks,” said Jörg Krämer, chief economist at Commerzbank in Frankfurt. For the chief executive of Daimler, one of Germany’s most prominent companies with several auto plants in China, the crisis is one of uncertainty.

“I’m calling China every day,” Ola Källenius said at a news conference in Stuttgart on Tuesday. “It’s too early to say if and how other factories could be affected. We are talking about global networks.”


New York Times 11 Feb

As Coronavirus Stifles China, Economic Logjams Build Worldwide

In Australia, after hauling hundreds of thousands of tons of iron ore to China, returning freighters can face a 14-day quarantine before being able to reload.

And from Qatar to Indonesia, exporters of liquefied natural gas face the prospect of disrupted shipments after a crucial importer in China is reportedly turning back deliveries after invoking clauses in long-term contracts that blame a “greater force.”The coronavirus outbreak in China has generated economic waves that are rocking global commodities markets and disrupting the supply networks that act as the backbone of the global economy.

Prices for key industrial raw materials such as copper, iron ore, nickel, aluminum and liquid natural gas have plummeted since the virus emerged.


New York Times Feb 11