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  • China’s Refineries Throttle Back; Deaths Top 2,000: Virus Update

    (Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong had a second fatality from the coronavirus while China’s death toll from the outbreak went past 2,000.All remaining passengers in the Westerdam cruise ship in Cambodia tested negative for the virus and Japan began releasing passengers from a quarantined cruise ship. Chinese oil refineries cut production even further to cope with weak demand.The number of people infected worldwide exceeded 75,000. The Hubei province at the center of the outbreak reported the fewest number of additional cases since it changed its method for counting infections last week. China’s strict quarantine likely bought the rest of the world several weeks to prepare for the virus, according to the World Health Organization.Key DevelopmentsAll remaining passengers from the Westerdam ship test negative A 70-year-old diagnosed with coronavirus died in Hong KongCruise ship passengers begin disembarking vessel quarantined in JapanChina death toll tops 2,000, global confirmed cases exceed 75,000Click VRUS on the terminal for news and data on the novel coronavirus and here for maps and charts. For analysis of the impact from Bloomberg Economics, click here.Chinese Oil Refineries Deepen Run Cuts (4:09 p.m. HK)Chinese refineries are throttling back production even further to cope with weak demand and a lack of workers due to the coronavirus, and are now processing 25% less oil than they were last year.No Wages for Chinese Workers (2:50 p.m. HK)A growing number of China’s private companies have cut wages, delayed paychecks or stopped paying staff completely, saying that the economic toll of the coronavirus has left them unable to cover their labor costs. To slow the spread of the virus, Chinese authorities and big employers have encouraged people to stay home. Shopping malls and restaurants are empty; amusement parks and theaters are closed; non-essential travel is all but forbidden.What’s good for containment has been lousy for business. To read the full story, click here.Glovemaker Increases Debt Sale (12:54 p.m. HK)The world’s biggest glovemaker got a vote of confidence from investors in the credit market, as the spreading coronavirus fuels demand for the Malaysian company’s rubber products. Top Glove Corp. sold 1.3 billion ringgit ($313 million) of Islamic notes, more than its planned offering of 1 billion ringgit. To read the full story, click here.All Negative for Westerdam Passengers (12:19 p.m. HK)All remaining 781 passengers of the Westerdam cruise ship moored in Cambodia have tested negative for coronavirus. Holland America Line, which owns the vessel, made the announcement, citing the Cambodian Ministry of Health.Japanese Efforts Criticized (12:15 p.m. HK)As Japan began releasing passengers from a stricken cruise ship anchored off Yokohama, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criticized the Japanese government’s quarantine efforts, saying they may not have been sufficient to prevent transmission of the coronavirus aboard the vessel.The CDC said in a statement Tuesday there may be additional virus cases among the remaining passengers, as the rate of new infections presents an “ongoing risk.” It said passengers and crew are prevented from returning to the U.S. for at least 14 days after leaving the ship.APEC to Discuss Impact of Coronavirus (11:30 a.m. HK)Senior officials of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Secretariat will discuss the impact of the coronavirus in the next few days, said Michael Chapnick, direct of communications and public affairs. The Secretariat sees the outbreak as “a challenge for the region” as they prepare to host meetings in Malaysia this year.Hong Kong Reports Second Death (11:05 a.m. HK)A 70-year-old male who had been diagnosed with coronavirus died this morning at Princess Margaret Hospital, a spokesperson for the hospital said by phone. He had underlying illnesses and had a day trip to mainland China on Jan. 22. Local news site HK01 reported the death earlier this morning.China Mulling Airline bailout (11:01 a.m. HK)China is considering measures such as direct cash infusions and mergers to bail out an airline industry crippled by the virus outbreak, according to people familiar with the matter. One proposal involves allowing some of the nation’s biggest carriers -- which are controlled by the state -- to absorb smaller ones suffering the most from the collapse of travel, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information hasn’t been discussed publicly. To read full story, click here.Cruise Passengers Begin to Disembark (10:10 a.m. HK)Passengers finally began leaving a cruise ship that has been quarantined off Yokohama, Japan, the NHK reported.Many of those who leave the ship will be subject to another 14 days of quarantine once they return home. All passengers are set to leave the Diamond Princess cruise between Wednesday and Friday. About one in seven people aboard became infected, with 542 people confirmed to have contracted the virus as of Tuesday.To read full story, click here.Taiwan Extends Hong Kong Tour Suspension (10:05 a.m. HK)Taiwan’s Tourism Bureau said suspension on group tours to Hong Kong and Macau will be extended to April 30 from original schedule of March 31. Taiwan had earlier barred entry for all residents of mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau. Taiwan had also halted all passenger flitghts to China except for those to and from the Chinese cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Xiamen and Chengdu.Gauging the Damage From the Virus (10 a.m. HK)U.S. corporations are rushing to assess the impact on their business from the coronavirus infection spreading across China. Bloomberg economists reviewed all mentions of the coronavirus for S&P 500-listed firms - a total of more than 150 companies with a combined market cap of $9 trillion - and found that 56% of them said it was too early to gauge how the virus might play out. Another 36% said it would have an effect, but likely limited. Only 5% anticipate a severe blow. But the harsh reality on the ground in China points to a different conclusion - so companies and investors may be in for a nasty shock.To read the full report, click here.South Korea Confirms 15 More Cases (9:30 a.m. HK)The Korea Center for Disease Control & Prevention confirmed 15 more cases of people with coronavirus, 13 of them in Daegu city, southeast of Seoul. Eleven of the newly confirmed cases were linked to a patient that tested positive yesterday, the CDC said. The Kyungpook National University Hospital in Daegu has been asked to close down its emergency room after at least one patient in the facility was found to have been infected.China’s Coronavirus Death Toll Hits 2,000 (7:00 a.m. HK)China’s Hubei province reported 132 new coronavirus fatalities for Feb. 18, bringing the death toll on the mainland to 2,000.Total confirmed cases in Hubei rose by 1,693 to 61,682, Hubei’s health commission said in a statement. Discharged patients increase by 1,266 to 9,128.China Measures Seem to Have Delayed Spread, WHO Says (2:50 p.m. NY)China’s aggressive quarantine tactics delayed the spread of the coronavirus from the outbreak’s center, said a top official at the World Health Organization. Officials in China’s Hubei province locked down travel to and from the province, and later sharply restricted people’s ability to leave their homes.“Those measures on movement restriction have delayed the dissemination of the outbreak by two or three days within China, and two or three weeks outside China,” said Sylvie Briand, the WHO’s director of global infectious hazard preparedness.Briand said that estimate was based on modeling of the disease’s spread, and it will take time to know for certain.Russia Bans Chinese Citizens From Entry (1:05 p.m. NY)Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin signed an order temporarily banning Chinese citizens from entering Russia for tourism, personal reasons or work starting Thursday, Interfax reported, citing Deputy PM Tatyana Golikova’s office. The ban doesn’t apply to passengers continuing to a destination outside Russia.China Aims to Stabilize Trade, Promote Consumption (10:25 a.m. NY)China’s Commerce Ministry will take steps to help stabilize the nation’s foreign trade and prod consumption in a bid to reduce the impact of coronavirus outbreak on commercial activities, the ministry said in statement.Sanofi to Work on Coronavirus Vaccine (10 a.m. NY)French pharmaceutical company Sanofi jumped into the race to combat the fast-spreading coronavirus, betting that earlier work in pursuit of a SARS vaccine could accelerate its effort.Read the full story here.\--With assistance from Emi Nobuhiro, K. Oanh Ha, Adrian Kennedy, Adela Lin, Yudith Ho and Michelle Fay Cortez.To contact the reporter on this story: Jeff Sutherland in Tokyo at jsutherlan13@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Emma O'Brien at, Anand KrishnamoorthyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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