Chinese President Xi Jinping has declared a “people’s war” against the fast-spreading coronavirus whose impact has been felt around the world.
The death toll in mainland China has jumped by 73 to 563, with more than 28,000 infections also confirmed inside the world’s second-largest economy.
Xi, seeking to prevent global panic, said China’s strong mobilisation capacity and rich experience in public health would enable it to beat the coronavirus.
“The whole country has responded with all its strength to respond with the most thorough and strict prevention and control measures, starting a people’s war for epidemic prevention and control,” Xinhua news agency quoted him as saying in a telephone call with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Thursday.
In a striking image of the epidemic’s reach, about 3700 people moored off Japan on the Diamond Princess faced testing and quarantine for at least two weeks on the ship, which has 20 cases, including two Australians.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed a third person in the UK had tested positive for coronavirus – a British citizen who had travelled from an Asian country, not China.
In Hong Kong another cruise ship with 3600 passengers and crew was quarantined for a second day pending testing after three cases were discovered on board.
Taiwan, which has 13 cases, banned international cruise ships from docking.
In China, sometimes dubbed the world’s workshop, cities have been shut off, flights cancelled and factories closed, shutting supply lines crucial to international businesses.
Companies including Hyundai Motor, Tesla , Ford, PSA Peugeot Citroen, Nissan, Airbus, Adidas and Foxconn are taking hits.
Financial analysts have cut China’s growth outlook, with ratings agency Moody’s flagging risks for auto sales and output.
Indonesia said it stands to lose $US4 billion ($A5.9 billion) in tourism if travel from China is disrupted for the whole year.
Chinese-ruled Hong Kong, hit by months of anti-China unrest, said the coronavirus was hurting its economy and urged banks to adopt a “sympathetic stance” with borrowers.
But US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he still expected China to maintain its commitment to boost purchases of American goods and services by at least $US200 billion ($A296 billion) over the next two years, as part of a trade deal.
Health officials in the United States and China want to get a vaccine to initial human testing within months, but drugmakers have cautioned they have a long way to go.
“There are no known effective therapeutics,” WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said, when asked about reports of “breakthroughs” that boosted markets on Wednesday.
China’s National Health Commission said the HIV drug lopinavir/ritonavir could be used for coronavirus patients, without specifying how.
That triggered a rush for drugmaker AbbVie’s off-patent version of lopinavir/ritonavir, the only version approved for sale in China.
Shandong province resident Devy, 38, was among hundreds who had asked people with HIV for their medicine.
“When you are left alone, seeing the blur shadow of death far away, I think no one can feel calm,” Devy told Reuters.