Coronavirus Q&A

I've been fielding many questions from investors about the new coronavirus, COVID-19, and would like to share my answers with you in this issue of Sinology.

I want to caveat my remarks with the caution that knowledge of this new disease is incomplete and evolving, so I will continue to monitor the scientific literature on a daily basis.
Before we get to the Q&A, all of us at Matthews Asia would like to express our sympathy for everyone affected by the virus.

What does the latest coronavirus data tell us?

At this time, data for the number of cases and fatalities due to the coronavirus, now officially referred to as COVID-19, reflects several promising trends. [All data in this report are as of February 23, 2020.]

I think it is significant that 97% of global cases of COVID-19 are still within mainland China, despite the virus having been around since at least December. [The disease COVID-19, which is an abbreviation for “coronavirus disease 2019,” is caused by a virus which has been named “SARS-CoV-2.”]

The virus first appeared in the city of Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, and 81% of the global cases are still in that province, up from 66% 20 days earlier. Hubei remains a public health disaster, which is important, as the province has a population roughly equal to that of of New York and California states combined. But the virus seems to be coming under control in the rest of China. In Shanghai, for example, the number of cases has risen to 335 today, up significantly from 208 cases 20 days ago, although a modest number for a city of 24 million people. The picture is similar in Beijing, which has a population of 22 million: 399 cases, up from 228 cases 20 days ago.