by Tyler Durden
Japan reports first virus death
President Xi says China will minimize impact from virus
Chinese leadership scapegoats local officials
Death toll and case count soared last night: There are more than 60k cases worldwide, and more than 1300 deaths
EIA joins OPEC in warning about upcoming drop in oil use, the first in a decade.
HHS Secretary says CDC will announce another confirmed COVID-19 case in US on Thursday
21 people in Spain released from quarantine
US admin reportedly questioning China’s reporting
White House reportedly “doubts” China’s coronavirus numbers
CDC warns more infections possible after first US case confirmed in Texas (15th overall)
2 Russian women attempt escape from quarantine
EU could close border if outbreak worsens
Kudlow says US “disappointed” in China virus response
Shanghai reports 300+ more cases
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Update (1400ET): President Trump just reportedly said during a radio interview that he believes China is handling the outbreak “professionally.”
This after a slew of frustrated messages from his administration and officials including Larry Kudlow.
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Update (1320ET): Following last night’s admission that local officials in Wuhan were undercounting the number of cases, a reporter appears to have found evidence that more than 300 unreported cases are active in Shanghai, as well as 1 previously unreported death.
#BREAKING: Shanghai has banned people and cars from entering the city starting at 00:00 on February 14 in order to put the #CoronavirusOutbreak under control. At least 300 cases of such infection have been confirmed in Shanghai. And at least one died from the disease in the city. pic.twitter.com/h8AKfTxAPK
— Ezra Cheung (@ezracheungtoto) February 13, 2020
So China is tightening the lockdown in Shanghai to hide the truth about the outbreak? That’s unconfirmed for now.
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Update(1250ET): Not long after reports claimed the White House is widely skeptical of Chinese numbers, Trump’s top economic advisor Larry Kudlow appeared on television to say the US is “disappointed” in how China has handled the virus response, and that the Trump administration wishes there was more clarity.
Specifically, the US was most hurt by China’s refusal to accept an American team of experts from the CDC, who offered to help.
The US economy would be at 3% growth if not for the virus, he added.
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Update (1230ET): As Beijing insists that it’s safe for foreign nations to soon lift their travel restrictions on China, CNN reports that the European Union is considering closing its borders if the outbreak really escalates.
They cite a Croatian health official, who said the plan is in the works, though he strongly suspects that it won’t be necessary.
The WHO has said that level of restriction isn’t necessary, but that’ hasn’t stopped Russia from closing part of its border and other countries restricting travel by Chinese.
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Update (1215ET): For the second day in a row, the CDC has warned that more confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the US are inevitable, especially as the testing of ~800 evacuees from Wuhan continues.
After confirming the US’s 15th case at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, officials warned that “there may be additional cases” identified during this period.
The 15th patient was a “solo traveler” from China who has been quarantined “since arriving at Lackland Air Force Base from Wuhan.
They remain in isolation at a local hospital.
Officials assured the public that there’s no risk to the local community, according to CNN.
“We are right in the middle of that incubation period so it is not surprising” that the individual developed symptoms, McQuiston said.
“For the most part the people in quarantine are not doing much associating with each other,” McQuiston said.
Across the ocean in Russia, two women being held under quarantine over fears they might have contracted the virus managed to escape, citing the appallingly poor conditions of their medical detention, according to the NY Post.
Both of the women were hospitalized with flu-like symptoms after returning the Hainan region in southern China that is popular with Russian tourists because of its tropical environment.
In honor of US stocks turning green, we’d like to share this memorable clip of hazmat-suit-wearing person spraying an office down with disinfectant as China continues to slow lurch back to work.
Remember, it’s just like the flu – except much, much worse.
If it was really so mild, would authorities be treating anybody even suspected of having the virus like this?
But as the lockdown begins to lift in Beijing, here’s how people are reacting to…well…being around other people.
Update (1150ET): Citing a senior White House official, CNBC reports that the White House doesn’t have “high confidence” in the coronavirus numbers coming out of China.
The U.S. does “not have high confidence in the information coming out of China” regarding the count of coronavirus cases, a senior administration official told CNBC.
The official also noted that China “continues to rebuff American offers of assistance.”
The current thinking is there must be a reason why they won’t allow the CDC to send over personnel to help with the virus response.
Meanwhile, Jennifer Zeng tweeted out video of migrant workers being forced to sleep outside because of the draconian lockdown.
How much longer until President Trump demands evidence that the virus wasn’t bioengineered?
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Update (1015ET): Following last night’s debacle over China reporting, Fox News’ Edward Lawrence reports that administration sources say they believe China is under reporting the number of coronavirus cases by at least 100,000 in China.
Additionally, Lawrence notes that administration sources say scientists working on how the coronavirus spread are having difficultly getting to the sight on where the first case happened.
We suspect Chinese authorities will do their best to keep any “help” from the west at arm’s length for fear of discovering the truth behind this deadly outbreak.
Jennifer Zeng meanwhile tweeted a video of migrant workers in Jiangsu province being reduced to sleeping in the streets or woods thanks to the lockdown.
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Update (0950ET): Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Thursday morning that the CDC is preparing to announce another confirmed coronavirus case in the US later in the day. That would be the 15th case in the US.
The announcement hit US stocks just minutes after the open.
In Europe, CNN reports that 21 Spaniards who returned from Wuhan on an evacuation flight have been released from Gomez Ullah Hospital in Madrid. The Spanish Health Ministry said the individuals had finished their quarantine stretches.
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Update (0915ET): Even China’s state-controlled press is beginning to sound alarmist as it becomes increasingly clear that the epidemic is anything but ‘contained’.
Meanwhile China’s CDC has reportedly declared ‘War Time Status’ to authorize war-time conditions on quarantine, supplies, management and, of course, control & discipline.
If you thought the lockdowns were bad, it looks like Beijing is about to get pretty creative as it tries to walk the balance of pushing the public to get back to worked and protecting them from the virus.
In Xiaogan, in Hubei Province, two young men were forced to kneel in the street after violating restrictions of traveling outside.
Reuters adds that Huanggang, another city in Hubei, that it will tighten epidemic controls by “sealing residential complexes and only allowing essential vehicles on roads.”
Patients quarantined in China’s hospital jails are clearly hoping that their patriotic socialist principles of valuing the common good over individual liberty will see China through.
In other news, the EIA warned earlier that the COVID-19 outbreak would cause the first drop in oil use in a decade.
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Update (0750ET): News out of China is presenting yet another lesson in contrasts.
In his latest remarks, President Xi said his government is striving to hit China’s development targets, and that the government will “definitely be able to minimize impact from the virus,” according to Chinese state media that has been relayed to English-language newswires.
He also pledged to maintain the development momentum of China’s economy.
Meanwhile, over in Macau, the government of the beleaguered casino paradise is planning to hand out vouchers to residents allowing to buy food to try and help boost local consumption once the outbreak starts to subside, Bloomberg reports.
They can only be used at local restaurants and businesses over the next 3 months.The government is also planning to reduce some taxes and fees to help people recover (a rare example of fiscal stimulus directed at main street).
Here’s a video report published on NHK’s site (please excuse the excess text):