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New China virus: Drug makers soar on contagion fears

This article was taken from: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-51171395

Shares in Chinese drug makers have risen sharply as concerns grow over a new virus spreading across the country.

Several pharmaceutical giants on the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges have risen by their 10% daily limit.

The moves follow the confirmation that the new strain of coronavirus can pass from person to person.

The number of people infected tripled over the weekend, with the outbreak spreading from Wuhan to other major cities.

Millions of Chinese people are preparing to travel both within the country and abroad for the New Year holidays.

Jiangsu Sihuan Bioengineering, Shandong Lukang Pharmaceutical, and Hengrui Medicine were among the drug makers that gained 10%.

Meanwhile, face mask manufacturers Tianjin Teda and Shanghai Dragon also rose by 10%.

Stock prices are constrained in China by limits that allow them to move by a maximum of 10% higher or lower in a day.

These latest gains follow sharp rises in Chinese pharmaceutical companies’ shares yesterday.

On the other hand, Chinese airlines, tour and hotel companies have fallen.

Shares in state-owned Air China added to yesterday’s losses. BTG Hotels Group, which also fell yesterday, has lost more ground today.

In the “Golden Week” holiday in China stock markets will be closed for five working days from Friday 24 January to Thursday 30 January.

What we know about the virus

  • 2019-nCoV, as it’s been labelled, is understood to be a new strain of coronavirus that has not previously been identified in humans
  • Coronaviruses are a broad family of viruses, but only six (the new one would make it seven) are known to infect people
  • Scientists believe an animal source is “the most likely primary source” but that some human-to-human transmission has occurred
  • Signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties
  • People are being advised to avoid “unprotected” contact with live animals, thoroughly cook meat and eggs, and avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms

Source: World Health Organization

There are now more than 200 cases, mostly in Wuhan, though the illness has also been detected in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen.

Experts in the UK told the BBC the number of people infected could still be far greater than official figures suggest.

In the early 2000s Sars, another coronavirus, killed 774 people across dozens of countries, mostly in Asia.

Analysis of the new virus shows it is more closely related to Sars than any other human coronavirus.