Monday evening came the news that UK prime minister Boris Johnson was to be moved to intensive care as his own battle with Coronavirus worsened. The PM who contracted the virus 2 weeks ago had been on the mend, but was moved to hospital for further testing over the weekend, which then was upgraded to an intensive care unit stay. This comes as the UK enters the third week of the original lockdown time frame. Many now believe that this could be extended towards the end of the month as cases in the Kingdom continue to surge as NHS workers continue to battle the pandemic.
The UK now has over 50,000 cases, it is reported that around 51,608 people have contracted the virus thus far. Out of the 51,608 reported cases, it is said that around 5,373 people have unfortunately died as a result. This brings the UK death rate to 10.4%, with an average of just over 500 deaths per day.
Is this Peak Week?
In the US many are calling this peak week, as politicians and doctors say that the end is near, once the virus reaches its peak level of infections. With over 370,000 reported cases, and 10,943 deaths, the US has so far a death rate of 3%. Which with a bigger population than the UK, means the severity of the impact in the UK has been greater thus far. So when will the peak hit?
In a press conference the Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Chris Whitty, who himself had contracted symptoms of the virus, stated: “We do not think we know for certain that the peak will be at the end of this week.”
Boris Johnson, in his address on the 23rd March, said that he hoped that after a 3 week lockdown, which is set to end on Easter Monday, may need to be reassessed if Professor Whitty’s claims are to be acknowledged.
He went on to add that: “The key thing is to get to the point where we are confident we have reached the peak, and gone beyond the peak, and at that point I think it is possible to have a serious discussion about what we need to do step-by-step to move to the next phase of managing this. But I think to start having that discussion until we’re confident that’s where we’ve got to, would be a mistake.”
Reaction in Financial Markets
Financial markets in the UK, mainly the FTSE 100 and GBP have continued to consolidate on the latest developments. The early swing in price we saw at the initial stage of the pandemic seemed to have calmed. Even following the news that Boris was moved to intensive care, only served as a boost in the price of the FSTE which rallied, from 5460 – 5747.
This move shows that the markets are paying some attention to this news, however the continued spread of the virus and potential ending of lockdowns the world over, may be the real factor in shifting markets towards their next destination, whether bullish or bearish.