Ag Policy Blog

Increasing Worries Over China's Coronavirus Outbreak

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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The coronavirus in China now has reached more than 7,700 confirmed cases in the country. While only five U.S. cases have been reported, the White House has created a task force to respond to the situation. (DTN graphic)

The United States government is becoming increasingly concerned about the rise of cornonavirus cases in China and globally.

The White House late Wednesday issued a statement regarding the formation of the President's Coronavirus Task Force. The White House stated the group has been meeting since Monday and the president chaired the meeting on Wednesday.

According to the White House, the Task Force will lead the administration’s efforts to monitor, contain, and mitigate the spread of the virus, while ensuring that the American people have the most accurate and up-to-date health and travel information. The White House added that, The risk of infection for Americans remains low, and all agencies are working aggressively to monitor this continuously evolving situation and to keep the public informed."

Trump had tweeted photos on Wednesday showing he was being briefed on the government's response to the virus.

As for how high the focus is, the issue came up while USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue held a telephone briefing with reporters from Italy to provide an update on his discussions this week with European Union (EU) officials.

Asked of the China coronavirus situation could impact the commodity purchase commitments, Perdue said, “We don’t really know that yet. We would love and pray for a very quick resolution and conclusion to the coronavirus outbreak.”

Coronavirus is “obviously going to have some ramifications economy wide, which we hope will not inhibit the purchase goal that we have for this year,” he concluded.

Chinese officials reported Thursday the number of cases had reached more than 7,700 people with 170 fatalities. Another 68 cases have been reported globally. As of Wednesday, the U.S. still had five cases, according to the CDC.

As DTN's Early Word Grains highlighted, the market impacts continue with stocks and currencies, and most agricultural commodities are responding with lower prices as well.

According to the Washington Post, roughly 200 Americans who had been evacuated from Wuhan, the center of the epidemic, landed in California on Wednesday. The Wall Street Journal reported another flight to evacuate Americans was being scheduled.

Meanwhile American businesses are now shutting down operations in parts of China and many also have now banned employee travel there.

Highlighting some food impacts in China, the cookie and snack mater Mondelez International stated it expects lower sales in China because of the outbreak, the WSJ reported.

The World Health Organization is planning a third emergency meeting this week to determine if the outbreak should be considered an international public health emergency.



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