U.S. officials will have a better idea of how the coronavirus outbreak will impact the economy in “three or four weeks,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Sunday.
This story by Chloe Taylor originally appeared on CNBC.
Speaking to CNBC’s Hadley Gamble at the G-20 summit in Riyadh, Mnuchin said it was difficult to make strong predictions about the economic impact of the outbreak right now.
“I think we’re going to need another three or four weeks to see how the virus reacts, until we really have good statistical data,” he said. “Although the rate the virus spreads at is quite significant, the mortality rate is quite small. It’s something we’re monitoring carefully, one of the discussions we’re having here is that countries should be prepared, but I think we’re at a point where it’s too early to either say this is very concerning or it’s not concerning.”
Mnuchin also told CNBC he did not believe the Chinese government was aware of the coronavirus danger when a delegation traveled to the White House for the signing of the Sino-U.S. “phase one” trade deal in January.
When asked if the U.S. had a backup plan in place in terms of a fiscal response to the virus outbreak, Mnuchin said there was “no question about it.” However, he reiterated that it was too early to predict how the coronavirus – formally named COVID-19 – would affect the global economy.
At a hearing before the Senate Finance Committee last week, Mnuchin insisted the coronavirus would not have an economic impact that lasted beyond 2020.
China’s National Health Commission on Saturday reported 97 new deaths from COVID-19 and 648 additional cases for Feb. 22, taking the total number of confirmed cases on the mainland up to 76,936.