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Coronavirus update: 638 deaths, 4 from Royal Caribbean ship in Bayonne to undergo testing, Foxconn to make surgical masks

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Foxconn plans to produce 2 million masks per day by the end of February, as WHO says there is a shortage

There are currently 31,424 confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide and at least 638 people have died, according to the latest data from the World Health Organization (WHO).

The number of cases and deaths in China continues to rise – the latest update from the National Health Commission of China cited 31,161 cases and 636 deaths – while companies with exposure to China warn investors about the potential financial fallout from production delays, flights canceled, shop closings and sales decreasing.

The virus was first identified in December in Wuhan, a city in central China. It has now spread to 24 countries, although most of the diseases and deaths are located in Hubei province, where Wuhan is located. There are 12 confirmed cases in the United States

The latest concern is a worldwide shortage of personal protective equipment, such as masks, clothes and gloves, according to comments made on Friday by dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, on Twitter. Foxconn, better known as Apple Inc.’s AAPL, -0.76% iPhone production partner, also announced on Friday on WeChat that it will begin manufacturing surgical masks alongside Apple products in its Shenzhen factory. The goal is to make 2 million masks per day by the end of February.

China is facing criticism over its initial response to the outbreak following the death of Dr. Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist in Wuhan who was reportedly reprimanded by the authorities after raising concerns about the virus. He died on February 7, according to a statement published on Weibo by the Wuhan General Hospital, the hospital that was treating him. Even before his death, Dr. Li was seen as a symbol of Chinese frustration and fear of the epidemic. “He was our hero,” said a doctor to the Wall Street Journal ….

What to pay attention to next week:

• The lunar new year holiday in China, which lasted a week due to the outbreak, should end on Sunday 9 February.

• 774 deaths were reported during the 2002 and 2003 epidemic of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), a type of coronavirus. The deaths caused by this coronavirus are likely to exceed the SARS figure over the weekend.

Passengers on cruise lines tested for coronaviruses:

Twenty-seven passengers in a Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. RCL, -3.09% of the ship in Bayonne, New Jersey, were examined for coronavirus after recently visiting mainland China, according to comments from Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis and the governor of NJ Phil Murphy said that those passengers were examined for the virus, four were sent to hospitals in the area for further examination and the other passengers were released. A “family has a travel history in mainland China, but not a travel history in Hubei province,” a Caribbean spokesman said in an email, adding that health officials are evaluating the virus in four family members.

• Princess Cruises, which is part of Carnival Corp. CCL, -2.35%, confirmed that there are 41 new confirmed cases of coronavirus on its Diamond Princess ship in Yokohama, Japan. Of that group, 21 come from Japan, eight from the United States, five from Australia, five from Canada, one from Argentina and one from the United Kingdom, a spokesman said Thursday. The remaining patients will be quarantined until February 19.

Virus concerns affect 2020 performance for businesses:

• Canada Goose Holdings Inc. GOOS, -3.84% reduced forecasts for the full year, citing a “material negative impact” of the coronavirus epidemic. The luxury apparel company has told investors that it is witnessing a “sharp drop in customer traffic and purchasing activities”, including physical and online stores. It now predicts year-over-year revenue growth from 13.8% to 15.0%, compared to the previous orientation of at least 20% growth. – Tomi Kilgore

• VF Corp. VFC, -0.73%, which manages the Vans footwear brand, has closed 60% of its stores and associates in China. Stores that have remained open report “significant” drops in retail traffic. – Ciara Linnane

Pacific Biosciences of California Inc. PACB, -5.39%, a gene sequencing company, said the Chinese market represents a quarter of its revenue. “This may be largely inaccessible until the epidemic subsides and normal trade resumes,” CEO Michael Hunkapiller told investors.

• Tyson Foods Inc. TSN, + 0.85%, told investors that it had restarted some of its operations in China. CEO Noel White said that during a profit call, he expects the company to face the short-term impacts of the epidemic, but the consequences of the virus could possibly help support the government’s efforts in China to “reduce” the number of wet markets. The researchers believe that the virus, common to bats, may have been transmitted to humans through another animal sold in the seafood market in Huanan, a wet market in Wuhan. “We will continue to see how modern food continues to grow in China,” said White, “the combination of [African swine fever] and coronavirus would accelerate this transition.”

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