The rapid spread of the Wuhan coronavirus that has seen transport services and business events cancelled, and kept consumers at home in cities across China has battered travel and retail stocks. But it is proving a boon for health care, home entertainment and e-commerce shares. Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng Index closed on Wednesday 2.8 per cent lower at 27,160, in its worst Lunar New Year debut since 2016. “The Wuhan virus will cut down travelling in and out of mainland China for a while, which will hit retail, tourism and airlines stocks hard, while pharmaceutical and e-commerce players will benefit from the outbreak,” said Edmond Hui, chief executive of Bright Smart Securities. “People may avoid travelling but will shop or order food online.” China Health Group, listed on the Growth Enterprise Market, saw the biggest jump in the sector. Trading of the shares was suspended at 1.28pm, by which time they had surged 280.5 per cent to 43 HK cents, the company said in a stock exchange filing, without giving a reason. A firm “connected” with it, named Wanquanwante Xiamen Pharmaceutical, produces a medicine normally used to treat and prevent HIV, which is now being given to people infected with the Wuhan virus, China Health said in a stock exchange filing after the market closed on Friday. It did not elaborate on the relationship between the two firms. Beijing municipal government confirmed on Sunday that this drug – an antiviral combination of Lopinavir and Ritonavir – has been given to patients infected with the Wuhan coronavirus by some of the city’s hospitals. Starbucks close mainland China stores in response to Wuhan coronavirus Lopinavir/Ritonavir is developed by Chicago-based Abbvie which owns patents related to it. China Health did not give details of its business association with the firm, and phone calls to its Beijing office went unanswered. A staff member at Wanquanwante, who gave her surname as Huang, said China Health has no direct ownership in her firm, but belongs to the same business group. She was unable to give more details. Wanquanwante is making preparations to resume production of Lopinavir/Ritonavir after a hiatus of several years, she said. It has no licensing relationship with Abbvie and is producing it as a generic product with Chinese government approval, she added. Hangzhou-based Ascletis Pharma, the first firm to take advantage of revamped rules in Hong Kong allowing drugmakers and medical companies without profit float their shares back in 2018, jumped 33 per cent to HK$3.97. The hepatitis drugs developer is working on a potential inhibitor to treat HIV type-1 infections. China Traditional Chinese Medicine, a unit of state-backed Sinopharm Group that makes chongcao qingfei capsules, yupingfeng granules and jinye baidu granules – all used to relieve respiratory disease symptoms – gained as much as 5.9 per cent before sliding back to close the day 0.8 per cent lower at HK$3.89. Ping An Healthcare and Technology closed the session up 3.7 per cent at HK$72.45 after surging as much as 6.3 per cent. The company, which runs one of China’s largest online healthcare platforms, has seen a sharp rise in the number of online searches for health care products and online medical consultations, a spokeswoman said, without giving figures. But many pharmaceutical and biotech stocks were unable to buck the market rout. Sino Biopharmaceutical slid 3 per cent, Sinopharm sank 2 per cent and cancer drugs developer Beigene tumbled 5.1 per cent. “Counters that have news directly related to the coronavirus have been bought up this morning, but those without are facing selling pressure as investors remained concerned about the pricing cutting risks they face due to mandatory state hospital bulk drug procurement tendering,” said UOB Kay Hian senior healthcare analyst Carol Dou. Some new economy stocks also did well on Wednesday. Hong Kong Television Network ended the day 13.7 per cent higher, while internet giant Tencent jumped as much as 1 per cent before closing 0.7 per cent lower at HK$388.2. Online food delivery firm Meituan Dianping gained as much as 3.3 per cent before closing 1.1 per cent lower. Retail stocks were among the biggest losers. Cosmetics retailer Sa Sa International Holdings dropped 9.1 per cent, while Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group plunged 8.1 per cent. China Eastern Airlines dropped 3.4 per cent to HK$3.63, while China Southern Airlines fell 3.7 per cent, Air China slipped 2.8 per cent and Cathay Pacific Airways was 3.2 per cent lower. Macau casino operators that relied heavily on mainland tourists’ spending also tumbled. Galaxy Entertainment Group fell 5.2 per cent while Sands China dropped 5.6 per cent.