Wuhan, an example of risk management failure

Officially known as COVID-19, the virus has so spread to almost 30 countries and killed about two dozen people.

In China, it has infected some 77,000 people and killed more than 2,500, most of them in the central province of Hubei.

Beijing postponed the annual meeting of the National People’s Congress – due to start on March 5 – for the first time in decades due to the coronavirus outbreak, state broadcaster CCTV said on Monday.

“So far, no new date has been set,” Al Jazeera’s Katrina Yu, reporting from Beijing, said.

“But analysts say when the meeting is rescheduled, that will be the biggest indicator that the country has finally won its so-called war against the coronavirus outbreak.”

Yu said 24 of China’s 31 provinces reported no new cases in the past 24 hours, while a visiting WHO team noted that a turning point had been reached in Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak and the capital of Hubei.

“They’re at a point now where the number of cured people coming out of hospitals each day is much more than the sick going in,” Bruce Aylward, head of the WHO delegation in China, said in Beijing.

He added that China’s actions, especially in Wuhan, had probably prevented hundreds of thousands of cases and urged the rest of the world to learn the lesson of acting fast.

“The world is in your debt,” Aylward said, referring to the people of Wuhan. “The people of that city have gone through an extraordinary period and they’re still going through it.”

Meanwhile, the virus is taking an increasingly heavy toll on the global economy, with many factories in China closed or subdued due to the quarantines.

The surge of cases outside mainland China triggered sharp falls in global share markets as investors fled to safe havens. European share markets suffered their biggest slump since mid-2016, gold soared to a seven-year high, oil tumbled nearly 5 percent and the Korean won fell to its lowest level since August.

Wall Street dived around 3 percent after it opened as the ugly sell-off spread. Italian shares tumbled nearly 5 percent.

The International Monetary Fund warned on Sunday that the epidemic was putting a “fragile” global economic recovery at risk, while the White House said the shutdowns in China will have an impact on the United States.