Brussels: The coronavirus epidemic is bound to dent global economic growth, the European Union’s Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said on Wednesday as the outbreak continued to spread to more countries, wiping trillions of dollars off world financial markets.
“The only certainty about Covid-19 is that it will have an economic impact at global level,” Gentiloni said in Brussels, referring to the new coronavirus strain, whose symptoms are similar to those of flu.
Believed to have originated from wildlife in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year, Covid-19 has infected 80,000 people in 27 countries. The vast majority of cases have been in China, where the virus has killed nearly 2,700 people.
After South Korea, Gentiloni’s native Italy is the country with the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases outside China – 374 with 12 deaths. Economists have warned the outbreak may tip Italy back into another recession – its fourth since 2008.
The United Nations World Health Organisation says Covid-19 has been declining in China since early February, but US health experts have warned that a pandemic of the disease is now inevitable.
WHO Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday there were now more new coronavirus cases outside than inside China, in a major turning-point for the spread of the disease. WHO has declared a public health emergency of international concern- its highest alarm level – over the “deeply concerning” Covid-19 virus, he said.