Fears mounted on Monday that the coronavirus outbreak in China will grow into a pandemic with disruptive and deadly consequences for countries around the world, after sharp rises in infections in South Korea, Italy and Iran.
A surge of infections outside mainland China triggered steep falls in Asian share markets and Wall Street stock futures as investors fled to safe havens such as gold. Oil prices tumbled and the Korean won fell to its lowest since August.
“The news flow from the weekend has changed the game somewhat, where the focus is much more on the threat of an outbreak outside of China,” said Chris Weston, head of research at broker Pepperstone.
South Korea’s fourth-largest city Daegu grew increasingly isolated as the number of infections there increased rapidly, with Asiana Airlines and Korean Air suspending flights to the city until March 9 and March 28 respectively.