Market hit on coronavirus health warning for UK
Virus warning is spreading worldwide
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has given the Government greater powers to fight the spread of the coronavirus, with four confirmed cases in the UK.
The FTSE 100 edged down as continued concern over the coronavirus outbreak knocked investor confidence around the world.
London’s blue chip index fell 0.2% in early trading, as Mr Hancock declared the virus a ‘serious and imminent threat’ to public health.
A Department of Health statement said: “The Secretary of State has made regulations to ensure that the public are protected as far as possible from the transmission of the virus.
“The Secretary of State declares that the incidence or transmission of novel Coronavirus constitutes a serious and imminent threat to public health, and the measures outlined in these regulations are considered as an effective means of delaying or preventing further transmission of the virus.”
Neil Wilson, chief markets analyst at markets.com, “what’s still unknown is the real economic damage this has wrought”.
The DAX and the CAC 40 fell a similar amount to the FTSE this morning, down 0.2% and 0.3% respectively .
Asian stocks saw a more dramatic impact as China returned to work after its extended lunar New Year holiday, with the Nikkei and the Hang Seng both down about 0.6%.
The Health Department’s announcement comes as a British businessman is feared to have infected at least seven other people with the coronavirus, prompting the emergency testing of hundreds of people on his flights, ski break and at his local pub.
Cases stretch across the UK, France and Spain after he apparently contracted the virus during a four-day trip to Singapore for a sales conference for gas analysis company Servomex.
The man in his fifties then jetted from south-east Asia to the Alps to ski in Les Contamines-Montjoie in late January where two more Britons became infected despite the ‘super spreader’ not having any cold or flu-like symptoms.
Britain’s health authorities have also contacted 183 passengers and six crew on an Easyjet flight then taken by the unnamed man from Geneva to London, warning that they could be infected.
Nine Britons have been confirmed to have the killer virus – five in France, one in Japan, one in Spain and two in the UK. Two others in the UK are ill, but they are believed to be Chinese nationals holidaying in Yorkshire.
There have been more than 40,000 cases of the virus globally, mostly in China, with four so far in the UK. The total number of deaths in China is now 908.
The crisis deepened on board a stranded cruise ship in Japan today as another 60 people were confirmed to have the virus.