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Coronavirus on the agenda of the G20

21 Feb 2020 11:04 AM

China reported a sharp increase in cases of coronavirus on Friday, when more than 200 people were found to have contracted the disease in two prisons outside Hubei Province, the epicenter of the outbreak.

As international authorities try to prevent an outbreak in China from becoming a global epidemic, G20 finance ministers will meet in Saudi Arabia over the weekend to discuss the risks of the global economy.

China has seen more than 75,400 cases of coronavirus and 2,236 people have died from the disease so far.

On the financial markets front, Asian stocks fell today as fears of a creeping spread of the disease led to the flight of funds to safe havens like American assets, which raised the dollar to its highest level in three years, and gold recorded its highest level in 7 years.

On the other hand, Japan and Singapore are on the verge of recession and South Korea said on Friday that its exports to China declined in the first 20 days of February, with global supply chains cut off.

The virus has appeared in about 26 countries and regions outside the Chinese mainland, killing 11 people. South Korea reported 52 new confirmed cases of the virus, bringing the total number to 156.

In Hong Kong, 69 confirmed two cases and deaths from the disease, and another hot spot is the quarantine cruise ship in Japan since February 3.

Tokyo said it would cancel or delay major internal events for three weeks, as the city prepares to host the Olympic Games, which begin in July.

As the G20 finance ministers prepare for the meeting, the International Monetary Fund said it is too early to know the impact of the virus on global growth.

"We still hope the effect will be a V-shaped curve with a sharp drop in China and a sharp recovery after the virus is contained, but we do not rule out that it might turn into a different scenario like the U-curve where the effect is somewhat longer," said Kristalina Georgieva, IMF director.

Meanwhile, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said it is studying more financial measures to support companies.

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