From cruise liners to supply chains, China virus hurts

Beijing (Reuters) – China’s fast-moving coronavirus spread among passengers of a quarantined Japanese cruise liner on Thursday and dragged down production at more global businesses, as scientists across the world searched for a vaccine.

The death toll from the virus in mainland China jumped by 73 to 563, with more than 28,000 confirmed infections inside the workshop of the world and its second-largest economy.

Moored off Japan, about 3,700 people on Carnival’s Diamond Princess face testing and quarantine for at least two weeks on the ship, which has 20 virus cases.

Japan now has 45 virus cases.

Gay Courter, a 75-year-old American novelist on board, said he hoped the U.S. government would take the 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, cities have been shut off, flights cancelled and factories closed, shutting supply lines crucial to the world economy. 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 signalling risks for auto sales and output.

Nintendo Co Ltd (7974.T) said on Thursday delays to production and shipping of its Switch console and other goods to the Japan market were “unavoidable” due to the coronavirus.

Honda Motor Co (7267.T) was considering keeping operations suspended for longer than planned at its three plants in Wuhan, the epicentre of the virus, Japan’s Nikkei newspaper reported.

Indonesia said it stands to lose $4 billion in earnings from tourism if travel from China is disrupted for the whole year.

Chinese-ruled Hong Kong, hit by months of sometimes violent anti-China, pro-democracy unrest, said the coronavirus was hurting its economy and urged banks to adopt a “sympathetic stance” with borrowers.

But global stocks extended their recovery, cheered by record closes on Wall Street and China’s announcement of a tariff cut on some imports from the United States, which analysts saw as a move to boost confidence.

China, which has bristled at being ostracised over the virus, was considering delaying an annual meeting of its highest legislative body, the National People’s Congress, from March 5, sources said.

“The situation doesn’t look likely to be contained by March,” a government official told Reuters.