Cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus increased by 14 to 122 in South Korea, where more than 2,000 schools are closed in response to the outbreak that has disrupted businesses and hurt tourism.
A 39-year-old woman is the first in the country to have the infection during pregnancy, South Korea’s Health Ministry said on its website. Hong Kong said Thursday no cases have been found so far in the city after officials investigated a possible case at a subway station that prompted the Hang Seng Index to fall as much as 1.5 percent Wednesday.
A worsening of the epidemic in South Korea to a situation resembling the 2003 SARS outbreak in Hong Kong could shave at least 0.8 of a percentage point from the nation’s gross domestic product growth this year, Morgan Stanley economists said in a report Monday. The Bank of Korea lowered its key interest rate Thursday to an unprecedented low as the outbreak threatens to weigh on consumer sentiment.
“While household debt has been a long-lasting issue that’s curbed consumption, MERS emerged recently as an imminent risk to consumption,” Governor Lee Ju Yeol told reporters in Seoul Thursday.
The hardest-hit retailers in South Korea could report profit declines of as much as 60 percent if MERS-CoV persists for as long as the four-month SARS outbreak in Hong Kong in 2003, Bloomberg Industries said in a report Thursday. Visitor arrivals to South Korea are poised to fall in June, it said.
Air traffic could be reduced in Thailand and Malaysia as a result of the outbreak in South Korea, analysts at Nomura said in a note Thursday. This could have a bearing on Airports of Thailand PCL’s and Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd’s international traffic, they said.