City waits to see if stock markets plunge further on coronavirus fears

More than £62 billion was wiped off the value of Britain’s top index on Monday after first outbreak in Europe.


The City will be looking to see if it will be hit by a further slump in the markets on Tuesday over fears about the spread of coronavirus.

More than £62 billion was wiped off the value of Britain’s top index on Monday, as global traders reacted with fear to the first major outbreak of coronavirus in Europe, in Italy.

The FTSE 100 lost 247.09 points to 7156.83, a 3.3% drop, its biggest one-day fall in more than four years.

Asian markets opened  sluggishly on Tuesday, with Japan’s Nikkei 225 dropping 3.6% in early trade after returning from a long weekend and Australia’s S&P ASX/200 falling 2.6%.

South Korea’s Kospi had a flat opening after closing nearly 3.9% down the day before, while the Shanghai Composite index shed 1.08% and markets in India and Taiwan recorded falls.

The market slumps follow Italy’s announcement it had diagnosed more than 150 cases of coronavirus in the country, the biggest outbreak outside China. A lockdown was in place in the Italian regions of Lombardy and Veneto.

Fears among investors that coronavirus could weaken global economic growth also saw the US Dow Jones Industrial Average dive more than 1,000 points in the worst day for the stock market in two years.

Cruise ship passengers  at Arrowe Park Hospital (Danny Lawson/ PA)

It came as the World Health Organisation (WHO) director general Tedros Ghebreyesus warned that while the spread of the virus around the world is not yet at pandemic stage, it has the potential to become one.

He said the WHO was “encouraged by the continued decline in cases in China” where the virus originated though more 77,362 cases have been declared there, including 2,618 deaths.

Outside China, there are now 2,074 cases confirmed in 28 countries, and 23 deaths, including a rapid rise in cases in Italy, South Korea and Iran, he added.

For people with mild disease, recovery time is about two weeks, while people with severe or critical disease recover within three to six weeks.

Cruise ship passengers  at Arrowe Park Hospital (Danny Lawson/ PA)

In the UK, 13 people have been diagnosed with Covid-19 caused by the virus, including four over the weekend who had been on the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was held in quarantine in Japan.

The four Britons from the Diamond Princess cruise ship are being treated at specialist centres. They were among a group of 30 Britons and two Irish citizens who arrived at a quarantine block at Arrowe Park Hospital in Merseyside on Saturday.

Two of the patients are in the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield, one is in the Royal Liverpool University Hospital and a fourth was taken to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle.

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