Coronavirus live updates: US hospitals prepare for possible pandemic, Air France tallies brutal impact from outbreak

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  • Total confirmed cases: More than 75,700
  • Total deaths: At least 2,130

The CDC has been working with the health-care sector to prepare for a possible pandemic outbreak in the U.S. The potential threat of the new virus comes at an already busy time for most U.S. hospitals. Another serious respiratory illness, the seasonal flu, is at its peak in the United States with more than 26 million cases and many hospitals stretched thin. A larger spread of the new virus across the U.S. could overwhelm emergency rooms and quickly cause supply shortages of some crucial medical supplies, according to half a dozen interviews with doctors, U.S. hospitals and health systems. — Lovelace

Shipping giant Maersk warned that the coronavirus outbreak would weigh on earnings this year, compounding the woes of a container shipping industry already subdued by trade wars and an economic slowdown. Maersk, which reported a lower-than-expected fourth-quarter profit on Thursday, forecasted a weak start to the year because factories in China were closed for longer than usual after the Chinese New Year holiday. “Weekly container vessel calls at key Chinese ports were significantly down compared to last year during the last weeks of January and the first weeks of February,” Maersk, the world’s biggest container shipping firm, said in a statement. It reiterated, however, a forecast for growth in global container demand of 1% to 3% this year, saying Chief Executive Soren Skou remained optimistic of a rebound in the second quarter. Global container demand grew 1.4% in 2019 and 3.8% the year before. — Reuters

Air France-KLM warned of a 150 million to 200 million euro ($162 million to $216 million) hit to earnings by April as it contends with the epidemic’s “brutal” impact on the airline industry. The Franco-Dutch group’s shares fell sharply after its full-year results and 2020 outlook, which was in the spotlight as markets watch for economic effects well beyond the Asian center of the outbreak. Like many global airlines, Air France-KLM has canceled flights to mainland China until the end of March, basing its impact estimate on the assumption that flights will then will resume progressively. “That’s the hypothesis we’re using for the moment, but we don’t know how credible it is,” Chief Financial Officer Frederic Gagey said. “Obviously if it lasts longer, the impact will be heavier.” — Reuters

Foxconn, the world’s largest contract manufacturer of electronics and the biggest assembler of Apple products, said Thursday it is cautiously restarting production at its main plants in China, Reuters reported, but it warned revenue will be hurt this year by the coronavirus epidemic.


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