The UK confirmed its first two cases of novel coronavirus on Friday, while the US and Japan advised citizens to avoid travelling to China. This came hours after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak a global health emergency.
“The main reason for this declaration is not what is happening in China but what is happening in other countries,” the WHO said, raising concerns over the effects it would have if the virus spreads to countries with weaker health systems.
Cases around the world rose to 9,950, surpassing the number officially reported during the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic. The death toll in China has climbed to 213. The country announced it will send charter flights to bring back its citizens from Wuhan who are overseas.
Dow fell 519 points in intra-day trade. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq were also in the red.
In India, the government banned exports of all kinds of personal protection equipment, including clothing and masks used to protect people from air borne particles. The move assumes significance as there could be a spurt in domestic demand for such products.
Meanwhile, Air India’s 423-seater jumbo B747 plane took off from the Delhi airport at 1.20 pm on Friday to evacuate Indian nationals from Wuhan, officials said. Five doctors from Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital and one paramedical staff was onboard, they said. An Air India spokesperson said another special flight may fly from Delhi airport on Saturday to evacuate Indians from Wuhan.
All Indian ports have been asked to scan people disembarking from ships. Advisories were issued to shipping liners.
In Kerala, where a positive case of novel coronavirus was detected, the state health minister, K K Shailaja said an awareness campaign would be launched to help people identify the infection.