Asian stock markets nosedived on Thursday in the wake of President Donald Trump’s announcement that Washington is suspending all travel to the US from mainland Europe in an attempt to contain the coronavirus outbreak.
Morning trading sessions saw Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 plunge by more than 4.5 percent; Hang Seng in Hong Kong and China's Shanghai Composite fell by 3.8 percent and 2 percent, respectively.
This followed US stocks plummeting sharply on 11 March, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average index (DJIA) closed the day with a 1,464.94 point loss, plunging by almost 5.8 percent.
The S&P 500 fell by 140.85 points, while the Nasdaq Composite dropped by 392.20 points as a result of economic concerns brought on by the global COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.
US Suspends All Travel From Europe For Next 30 Days
The developments were preceded by President Donald Trump announcing a raft of measures to counter the spread of the outbreak, including the suspension of all travel from Europe to the US until at least the middle of April. The ban, however, will not be applied to the United Kingdom.
Among other steps, Trump recommended nursing homes suspend all unnecessary visits, pledging to provide financial relief for workers who are ill, quarantined, or caring for others due to the coronavirus.
“We are marshaling the full power of the federal government and the private sector to protect the American people. This is the most aggressive and comprehensive effort to confront a foreign virus in modern history”, he said.
WHO Declares Coronavirus Outbreak Pandemic
In a separate development, World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters on Wednesday that after having assessed the situation, WHO officials concluded that the COVID-19 outbreak can officially be viewed as a pandemic.
“In the past two weeks the number of cases outside China has increased thirteenfold and the number of affected countries has tripled. In the days and weeks ahead, we expect to see the number of cases, the number of deaths, and the number of affected countries to climb even higher”, he said.
He also urged all countries to activate and scale up emergency response mechanisms.
“This is not just a public health crisis, it is a crisis that will touch every sector – so every sector and every individual must be involved in the fight”, Ghebreyesus stressed.
Current global data shows more than 126,000 infected, at least 4,600 dead and an estimated 68,000 recovered in the current coronavirus pandemic.