The corona virus outbreak in China may be over by April, the country’s senior medical adviser said on Tuesday, but deaths surpassed 1,000 and the World Health Organization (WHO) warned of a global threat potentially worse than terrorism.
The world must “wake up and consider this enemy virus as public enemy number one,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters.
As the epidemic squeezed the world’s second-biggest economy, Chinese firms struggled to get back to work after the extended Lunar New Year holiday, hundreds of them saying they would need loans running into billions of dollars to stay afloat.
Company layoffs were beginning despite assurances by President Xi Jinping that widespread sackings would be avoided, as supply chains for global firms from car manufacturers to smartphone makers ruptured.
China’s foremost medical adviser on the outbreak, Zhong Nanshan, told Reuters numbers of new cases were falling in some provinces and forecast the epidemic would peak this month.
“I hope this outbreak or this event may be over in something like April,” added Zhong, 83, an epidemiologist who won fame for his role in combating an outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome in 2003.
The WHO said on Tuesday 1,017 people had died in China, where there were 42,708 cases.
Only 319 cases have been confirmed in 24 other countries and territories outside mainland China, with two deaths: one in Hong Kong and the other in the Philippines.
World stocks, which had seen rounds of selloffs due to the corona virus’ impact on China’s economy and ripple effects round the world, surged to new record highs on Zhong’s comments.
Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said the financial spill over from the outbreak looked containable, and output lost to pandemics tends to be recovered in subsequent quarters, but added it was still early to judge the economic impact.