Even as the world hunkers down to fight off the fast-spreading coronavirus epidemic, the latest projections show that the Asia-Pacific region will bear a combined hit of $211 billion. The economies of Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia will be the hardest hit in the Asia-Pacific region, S&P Global Ratings said.
The rating agency also slashed its 2020 growth forecasts for the various major economies of the region. It said China's growth will tumble down to 4.8 percent from previously forecast 5.7 percent. While Australia's growth will be a muted 1.2 percent, Japan will take 0.5 percentage point hit. South Korea is projected to expand one percentage point lower than the previous estimates.
As many as 3,042 people have died from the Covid-19 disease in China so far, the National Health Commission said on Friday. The country, where the virus originated, reported 30 more deaths on Friday, while new infections stood at 143. In Singapore, five new coronavirus cases were reported on Friday. The Ministry of Health said one of the new cases is from a newly identified cluster in SAFRA Jurong.
In South Korea, 196 new coronavirus cases were reported on Friday, taking the country's total cases to 6,284. Seoul also reported seven more deaths from the virus, bringing the total number of dead to 42. Australia, which reported 60 cases of infection and two deaths from the virus, ordered its first school closure on Friday after a 16-year-old student in Sydney tested positive for the virus.
Japan, which has seen more than 1,000 infections, is mulling a state of emergency over the coronavirus outbreak.The country's ruling and opposition parties have agreed to vote on temporary legislation to declare the emergency on March 12.
Outside of the Asia-Pacific region, countries like Italy, Britain and Iran have reported more deaths and infections. Italy said the number of deaths from the new virus reached 148 and that more than 3,800 people have been infected. The UK reported its first death due to coronavirus on Thursday. The total cases rose to 115. The number of dead rose to 12 in the United States, with 11 deaths being reported from Washington state and one from California.
Central banks around the world have slashed rates and announced expansionary policy pitches to cushion the impact of the virus outbreak on the economy. On Tuesday, the US Federal Reserve reduced interest rates by a half percentage point to a target range of 1.00 percent to 1.25 percent. The Fed move comes amid rising fears that the world would slip into a recession if the virus outbreak is not contained fully in the near term.
In another major move the World Bank said on Tuesday it was committing $12bn (Â£9.4bn) for developing countries struggling with the fight against coronavirus outbreak. The emergency package will help hard hit countries offer low-cost loans, grants and technical assistance, the bank said. "What we're trying to do is limit the transmission of the disease," World Bank Group President David Malpass told the BBC.
The International Monetary Fund on Wednesday announced a $50 billion aid program to combat the deadly coronavirus. The money will be available immediately, said IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, while announcing the package.