World stocks tumbled for the fifth day on fears of prolonged disruption to global supply chains, while safe-haven gold rose back toward seven-year highs.
Stock markets globally have wiped out $3.3 trillion of value in the past four trading sessions, as measured by the MSCI all-country index.
The disease is believed to have originated in a market selling wildlife in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year and has infected about 80,000 people and killed more than 2,700, the vast majority in China.
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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged Americans to prepare, saying that while the immediate risk there was low the global situation suggested a pandemic was likely.
“It’s not a question of if. It’s a question of when and how many people will be infected,” the CDC’s principal deputy director, Anne Schuchat, said on Tuesday.
World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, however, advised against referring to a pandemic, defined by the agency as the “worldwide spread” of a new disease.
“We should not be too eager to declare a pandemic without a careful and clear-minded analysis of the facts,” Tedros said in remarks to Geneva-based diplomats.
“Using the word pandemic carelessly has no tangible benefit, but it does have significant risk in terms of amplifying unnecessary and unjustified fear and stigma, and paralyzing systems. It may also signal that we can no longer contain the virus, which is not true.”
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