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Virus outbreak chills markets, outlook for global economy – Nanaimo News NOW



China, the epicenter of the outbreak, faces the most acute near-term difficulties as factories lie idle and people remain homebound. But the ripple effects are being felt all around the world, as China is both a major importer of goods as well as a source of parts through intricate supply chains. Growth estimates for China are already being cut.

Concerns are growing in the 19-country eurozone, whose three biggest economies — Germany, France and Italy — are stalling. Concerns over the knock-on effects on Germany, Europe’s export powerhouse, are particularly acute. Germany’s main DAX stock market closed a whopping 4% lower Monday. .

“Given the latest developments, one has inevitably to talk about downside risks for German exporters,” said Andreas Rees, chief German economist at UniCredit.

Rees cited figures showing car sales in China fell 92% in the first two weeks of February, and pointed out that of the 21 million cars sold in China last year, about 1 in 5 was made either in Germany or through German investment in China. Most Chinese auto showrooms are closed.

Meanwhile Italy’s FTSE MIB slumped 5.4% as Italian civil protection officials said at least 222 people had tested positive for the virus in the country and that six people had died.

Jack Allen-Reynolds, senior Europe economist at Capital Economics, said the virus “makes another recession in Italy more likely than not.”

Europeans had been hoping for a modest upturn this year after major economies staggered through a rough patch at the end of the year. Germany showed zero growth in the fourth quarter, while the No. 2 and No. 3 economies, France and Italy, shrank slightly. Two straight quarters of falling growth is one definition of a recession.

The global economy was just stabilizing after wobbles caused by the trade war between the U.S. and China and fears of a disorderly British exit from the European Union.The coronavirus hit just as a U.S.-China preliminary deal and a Brexit withdrawal divorce agreement had boosted hopes for a modest upswing, particularly in Europe.

Nowthe world economy could see its first quarterly fall in seasonally adjusted output since the global financial crisisof more than a decade ago, says Ben May, director of global macro research at Oxford Economics.

Frequent business and tourism destinations for people from China are already being hit hard, confirming that this will be a key way that the pain will spread to other Asian economies, with Singapore and Hong Kong feeling the effects.

Comparisons to the 2003 SARS epidemic, another deadly outbreak that originated in China, aren’t reassuring because China’s share of the global economy is much bigger than it was back then, and supply chains moving raw materials, parts and products snake through the global economy more than ever.

Stock markets may have been slow to appreciate the risk posed by the outbreak because they hoped central banks could step in with more stimulus.

Individual companies have already reported trouble, most notably Apple, which said it will miss its sales target. But it could take until April or May before hard data on production and sales gives a clear picture of the impact on a regional or global level, Oxford Economics’ May said.

Markets are now pricing in a bigger chance for a rate cut by the European Central Bank by July, even though the ECB has already cut rates into unprecedented negative territory. Its key benchmark deposit rate is minus0.5%.

Kristalina Georgieva, the head of the International Monetary Fund, said that the fund’s baseline scenario is that China’s economy slows but returns to normal in the second quarter.

“But we are looking at more dire scenarios, where the spread of the virus continues for longer and more globally, and the growth consequences are more protracted,” she said.

Testifying to Congress on Feb. 11, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said that it was too early to assess the scope of the impact the virus poses to the U.S. economy. He noted that at the moment the economy “is in a very good place ”with strong job creation and steady growth.

Powell indicated that he saw no need to change the Fed’s benchmark interest rate, which is in a range of 1.5% to 1.75% after three rate cuts in 2019.

Raphael Bostic, head of the Fed’s Atlanta regional bank, said Friday that he expected the coronavirus to “be a short-time hit; we’ll get the economy back to its usual level” after the adverse effects pass.

The U.S. economy still looks resilient, growing at a solid 2.1% annual rate the last three months of 2019. American consumers are driving the record-breaking expansion, now in its 11th year.

Business investment has been weak, partly because President Donald Trump’s trade wars have generated uncertainty about where companies should locate factories and buy supplies. Investment could get weaker if the virus continues to disrupt the supply chains American businesses rely on.


AP business writers Paul Wiseman and Martin Crutsinger contributed from Washington.

David McHugh, The Associated Press

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Dutch former queen Beatrix tests positive for COVID-19



Dutch former queen Beatrix, 83, has tested positive for COVID-19, the royal information service RVD said in a statement Saturday.

Princess Beatrix, as she has been known since her abdication in 2013, got tested after coming down with “mild cold symptoms”, the statement said.

“The princess is at home in isolation and adheres to the rules of life for people who have tested positive,” it added.

The Netherlands has been experiencing a record-breaking wave of COVID-19 cases that is threatening to overwhelm the country’s healthcare system.

(Reporting by Stephanie van den Berg; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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‘I was shocked’: Mother, child mistakenly given COVID-19 vaccine instead of flu shot – Comox Valley Record



A Manitoba mother says a routine appointment for her and her three-year-old to get flu shots ended in frustration and mixed messages after they were each mistakenly given an adult dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Jenna Bardarson is calling for policy changes at the province’s vaccination centres to make sure that doesn’t happen to another family.

The shots were administered on Nov. 24 at the Keystone Centre in Brandon.

Bardarson says that shortly after she and her daughter, Dali, got their shots, the health worker who had given them excused herself to speak with a supervisor. When the worker returned, she told them she had made a mistake and given them both the adult Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

“I was shocked. I didn’t know what to say. My immediate concerns were, of course, would my daughter be OK and also who could I speak to about this,” Bardarson said in online social media messages Friday to The Canadian Press.

Once she got home, Bardarson made multiple calls to different departments with the regional medical authority, hoping to speak with someone about the error and her concerns, she said.

She said no one was able to provide her with the answers or information she needed. “The conversations with various Prairie Mountain Health members have been frustrating, to say the least.”

Bardarson said she already had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine and was due for her booster shot next month. Her daughter is too young to be eligible.

Health Canada last month approved a pediatric version of the Pfizer shot for children ages five to 11, but it has not yet approved a vaccine for those under five.

Bardarson said she and her daughter had headaches and sore arms the following day. Her daughter had no appetite and was throwing up.

Manitoba Health confirmed the mistake in a statement and said staff from Prairie Mountain have reached out to the mother to discuss what happened as well as to provide an update on an investigation.

“Patient safety is a critical aspect of all health-care services in Manitoba. We are constantly reviewing our processes to ensure that our systems support our staff in preventing errors,” it said.

“In this case … our team reviewed the existing processes to make adjustments that would help avoid a similar error from occurring in the future.”

Bardarson said the health region has not provided her with updated information on the investigation and would not discuss any consequences the health worker may have faced.

Manitoba Health said no further action would be taken against the worker, because she immediately recognized the error and told a supervisor.

For Bardarson, that’s not enough.

“I by no means want her fired; however, there should be some sort of measures in place for harm reduction.”

Bardarson suggested taking away the worker’s injection privileges or enhanced supervision during vaccinations.

She said she would also like to see areas at vaccination centres separated by vaccine types, instead of having different vaccines offered in the same booth.

Manitoba Health could not say if others have been given a COVID-19 vaccine by mistake, but acknowledged that medication errors, although rare, do occur. It added that Bardarson was provided with information about the risks of the COVID-19 vaccine, which in this case it says are low.

Health Canada said it is not in charge of immunization monitoring and could not comment on whether similar mistakes have occurred in other parts of the country.

– Brittany Hobson, The Canadian Press


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Two hippos in Belgian zoo test positive for COVID-19



Two hippos have tested positive for COVID-19 at Antwerp Zoo in Belgium in what could be the first reported cases in the species, zoo staff said.

Hippos Imani, aged 14, and 41-year-old Hermien have no symptoms apart from a runny nose, but the zoo said the pair had been put into quarantine as a precaution.

“To my knowledge, this is the first time in this species. Worldwide, this virus has been reported mainly in great apes and felines,” said the zoo’s vet, Francis Vercammen.

The coronavirus is thought to have jumped from an animal to a human, and it is proved to have passed from humans to animals.

Pets including cats, dogs and ferrets have become infected following contact with their owners, while in zoos, cases have been reported in animals such as big cats, otters, primates and hyenas.

The disease has also spread in mink farms and to wild animals, such as deer.

Antwerp Zoo is investigating the causes of the contagion. None of the zookeepers had recently shown COVID-19 symptoms or tested positive for the virus, the zoo said.


(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio; Editing by Helen Popper)

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