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Coronavirus latest: American Airlines shares plunge 9.2%

written by Adam Thorn | February 26, 2020

American Airlines shares plunged 9.2 per cent to a six-year low on Tuesday as coronavirus caused another painful day for airlines.

The crisis led to United dropping 6.2 per cent to its lowest price in 18 months, Delta falling 6.2 per cent, EasyJet 2.2 per cent and Ryanair 2 per cent.

The severe falls came after a dramatic day of losses on Monday, which were sparked by a major acceleration of coronavirus cases in Italy. On Tuesday, a 76-year-old woman became the 11th to die in the country.

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Other developments overnight include:

  • More cases were reported in Spain, Austria, Croatia, Switzerland and France;
  • However, the pace of confirmed cases in China, which had exceeded 2,000 per day a month ago, had dropped to a low of 508 on Monday;
  • The worldwide number of cases of hit 80,238, with 2,700 deaths, according to the WHO;
  • Italy reported a total of 322 infections through Tuesday, up from 229 a day earlier;
  • The Six Nations rugby match between Ireland and Italy, due to take place this weekend in Dublin, was cancelled;
  • Around 1,000 holidaymakers at the H10 Costa Adeje Palace hotel in south Tenerife were told to remain in their rooms and wait to be tested;
  • Overall US stock dropped 3 per cent, while the yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to a record low; and
  • The US began testing an experimental new drug to treat the disease.

The crash followed conflicting reports from the US on the impact of the virus.

An American Airlines Boeing 737

Its Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned the outbreak could cause “severe disruption” to the lives of ordinary citizens, while President Donald Trump told journalists the disease is “very well under control in our country” and “is going to go away”.

So far, only 14 coronavirus cases have been identified in the US, which includes 12 travellers returning from abroad and two patients who had contact with them.

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Nancy Messonnier, the head of immunisation at the CDC, told reporters at a press briefing, “As more and more countries experience community spread, successful containment at our borders becomes harder and harder.

“Ultimately, we expect we will see community spread in this country. It’s not so much a question of if this will happen any more, but rather more exactly when this will happen, and how many people in this country will have severe illness.

“I understand this whole situation may seem overwhelming, and that disruption to everyday life may be severe. But these are things that people need to start thinking about now.

“I had a conversation with my family over breakfast this morning, and I told my children that – while I didn’t think they were at risk – right now, we as a family, need to be preparing for significant disruption of our lives.”

The bad news came as airlines earlier said they would waive cancellation and change fees for travellers booked to South Korea.

On Monday, EasyJet crashed 15 per cent and Ryanair 12 per cent, while in the US American Airlines dropped 8.5 per cent, Delta 6.3 per cent and United Airlines 3.3 per cent.

On 1 February, Australia imposed a travel ban on anyone arriving from, or transiting through, mainland China, unless they had been out of the country for 14 days. It’s currently scheduled to run until 29 February.

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