(Adds details on number of coronavirus cases in Australia)
SYDNEY, March 5 (Reuters) - Australia’s Treasury Department estimates the coronavirus will subtract at least half a percentage point off growth in the first quarter of 2020, but it said it is too early to make a longer-term assessment of the impact of the virus.
“At this stage we expect the virus to detract at last half a percentage point from growth in the March quarter 2020,” Treasury Secretary Steven Kennedy told a parliamentary committee in Canberra on Thursday.
“This preliminary estimate takes into account the direct impacts on tourism, international education exports and some exchange-rate effects. It does not include supply-chain disruptions or other broader impacts.”
The estimate is in line with an estimate made by the Reserve Bank of Australia.
The projected toll on Australia’s economy came as health officials battle to contain the spread of the virus. Australia late on Wednesday confirmed a second coronavirus death after tests showed a 95-year-old woman had the virus when she died early this week.
Australia now has nearly 50 cases of coronavirus. The bulk of the cases have been contracted overseas, though at least five patients have caught the virus locally. (Reporting by Wayne Cole, John Mair and Colin Packham Editing by Chris Reese and Leslie Adler)