Australia Markets close in 3 hrs 4 mins

10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

James Hennessy

Good morning.

1. The World Health Organisation has declared the coronavirus a global health emergency. As of now, at least 170 people have died and 8,100 other people have caught the virus – more than the total number of cases during the 2003 SARS coronavirus outbreak.“Over the past few weeks, we have witnessed the emergence of a previously unknown pathogen which has escalated into an unprecedented outbreak,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “We don’t know what sort of damage this virus could do if it were spread in a country with a weaker health system. We must act now to help countries prepare for that possibility.”

2. However, at present, the coronavirus has a lower mortality rate than SARS. SARS had a mortality rate of 9.6%, whereas only about 2% of people have died from the new coronavirus. Experts say that for the most part, global panic over Wuhan coronavirus is unproductive. The public should take precautions to avoid getting sick, but the most effective preventative measures are everyday actions like increasing hand washing and avoiding touching your face.

3.Australians trapped in Wuhan by the coronavirus outbreak say they were told they would be charged AU$1,000 to be rescued by the government. This is in addition to the fact they'd be ferried straight to quarantine on Christmas Island, and then dropped off in Perth where they'd have to find their own way home. Tough deal. We've identified six other problems with this incredibly cowboy plan to evacuate Aussies from Wuhan.

4. Apple, Amazon, Google, and other major tech companies have restricted employee travel to and from China in response the coronavirus outbreak. “We’re taking additional precautions and frequently deep-cleaning our stores as well as conducting temperature checks for employees,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook. Here's a list of companies which have taken such precuations, and what they've done.

5. One more. You knew it was going to be a thing, but coronavirus influencers are very much here, Influencers are posing in face masks and trendy outfits and hashtagging #coronavirus. That's just the way the world works now, and you'll have to deal with it.

6. Swedish fintech Klarna launched in Australia yesterday. Backed by the Commonwealth Bank, it will be competing in the buy now, pay later market with its new shopping app, which lets users pay for products from virtually any online store in instalments. But co-founder and CEO Sebastian Siemiatkowski told us he believes the company will offer much more to Aussie consumers than a BNPL service.

7. While we're on the subject: buy now, pay later companies are killing the credit card for younger Australians. Exclusive research provided to Business Insider Australia shows that one BNPL company, Afterpay, alone commands a larger market share than the entire credit card sector for Australians under 25 – 17% versus 12%. “Clearly the next generation of shoppers have behaviours wildly different from the last – and it’s changing at a pace no marketers can keep up with,” Power Retail managing director Grant Arnott said.

8. Sound Relief 2020, a series of bushfire relief concerts originally slated to be held in March, has been cancelled. While the exact details are still hazy, Sound Relief said in its statement “we believe proceeding with the concerts in March won’t produce the impactful result that we believe these events can – and should – have.” It seems we're very much in the period following the immediate outpouring of public and support and efforts for bushfire relief, when some of the initiatives are starting to collapse under their own ambition.

9. A newly built chunk of Trump's border wall fell over. You hate to see it. Video of the incident showed the border-wall section swaying in the wind as crews tried to stabilise it. The section of the wall was under construction as one of Trump’s signature campaign promises. It replaced existing wall rather than extending the coverage.

10. More big quarterly earnings – this time from Amazon. The company's fourth quarter earnings was a huge beat across the board, driving its stock up more than 13% in after hours trading. The surge in stock on Thursday could bring the company back across the $US1 trillion market cap.

We know you love points hacks. We spoke to a guy who has racked up nearly 10 million of them across a few programs – here are his tips.