Corona Virus Update: Stock Selloff Might Be Exaggerated; Economic Impact Still Unclear; Fear Remains

Concern remains elevated about the coronavirus behind an epidemic in China and dozens of other countries. The number of people newly diagnosed with the illness caused by the virus appears to be on the decline in the epicenter of Hubei Province, China, though it is still high. International health officials are still worried about growing outbreaks of the virus in countries such as South Korea, Italy, Iran and Japan. It appears that some of the cases outside of China include people who neither have been to China nor in contact with anyone who has. On Friday, Feb. 28, the World Health Organization raised the global risk for the new virus from “high” to “very high.”

U.S. health officials have warned that they expect more transmission of the virus in the country. Scientists and public-health officials keep learning more about the virus, called Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, or SARS-CoV-2. The disease it causes is called COVID-19. This new virus belongs to a family of viruses known as coronaviruses. Seven strains are known to infect humans, including this new virus, causing illnesses in the respiratory tract. Four of those strains cause common colds. Two others, however, are significantly more serious infections: SARS, and Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS.[1]

SARS-CoV-2 appears to be less deadly than a related pathogen—SARS, which erupted in China in 2002 and spread globally in 2003. SARS killed about 10 percent of people it infected, while less than 3 percent of people confirmed to have COViD-19 have died, according to publicly released data.

The current risk to the U.S. public is low, says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, although, of the date of this commentary, 6 deaths related to the virus have been announced in the U.S. Even so, the virus isn’t spreading widely. The majority of confirmed infections are in people who were infected while abroad and were quarantined upon their return to the U.S., although some “community spread” has occurred.

Read the rest of the update here.

[1] What We Know About the Coronavirus, From Symptoms to Who Is at Risk, Betsy McKay, Wall Street Journal 2/27/20