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Asia

Virus crisis gives Church a chance to shine

Catholic leaders should focus on the pastoral duties that so many of them have let slip

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Virus crisis gives Church a chance to shine

Vietnamese citizens repatriated from Wuhan, where the novel coronavirus originated, wait in a queue after their arrival at Van Don airport in Vietnam's Quang Ninh province on Feb. 10. (Photo: Son Nguyen/AFP)

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Infection and death rates of the China-born respiratory coronavirus continue to accelerate, with the latest count at 910 deaths and 40,536 people infected across mainly Asia, although the virus is spreading and has been confirmed in 28 countries.

The virus is proving particularly contagious, although its fatality rate appears to be in the 2-3 percent range, assuming the statistics China has been producing are accurate. That makes it more like a particularly virulent influenza significantly less fatal than the 2002-03 SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) pandemic with its fatality rate of about 10 percent of about 8,000 confirmed infections or its even more deadly big brother MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome), whose fatality rate was a terrifying 35 percent.

What is clearer is that the virus will trigger a significant hit on the Chinese economy, with economists expecting a 2 percent gap between pre-virus expectations and the post-virus world. Any significant downturn in the Chinese economy has stark implications for the global economy, where it is the second biggest player, and the Asia-Pacific region, where China is the largest trading partner for almost all countries and the top export destination for most.

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